The Civic Hybrid 1st Gen
The Civic Hybrid (2003-2005)
This Civic looks just like a regular Civic, except for the light weight aluminum wheels, pillar antenna, and hybrid placard on the back. It’s not as light or as aerodynamic as the Insight so it has a larger gas motor and a more powerful electric motor to compensate for the added weight and drag. However, it may not compensate enough for some drivers. When compared to the Insight, the Civic is obviously less zippy. The Civic weighs about 30% more than the Insight, but only has 14% more power to compensate, causing one of our former Honda techs to dub it “a slug”. But hey, not everyone wants or needs zip. Some just want to save some gas in a normal sized car. Because the Hybrid Civic uses a larger gas motor and the resultant increased compression braking interferes with the regenerative braking, Honda uses their VTEC technology to close the valves on deceleration. This allows the gas motor to spin freely and the electric motor / generator to slow the car and charge the battery on decel.
What can go wrong:
The hybrid Civics with CVTs share the Insight’s troubles with start clutch judder due to degraded or wrong type transmission fluid.
We’ve also seen EGR valve problems with the Civic hybrids.
Overall, the 2003-2005 Civic Hybrid is very reliable.