Honda is releasing a new Civic for the 2012 model year to battle ambitious entries like the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus. In addition to conventional sedan and coupe models, the 2012 Civic will offer a sedan-only 41-mpg HF model, a hybrid sedan, a natural gas model, and Si coupe and sedans.

“For the ninth-generation Civic, we are emphasizing improved fuel economy across the board, from the hybrid sedan to the sporty Si model,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda Motor Co.,Inc.

Civic Si
The Si lives on in the 2012 model year, with a new six-speed manual transmission and a new engine. Replacing the 197-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 139 pound-feet of torque is a 2.4-liter unit with 200 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. As with all 2012 Civics, the styling on the new model is very similar to the outgoing car, but there are changes. A more aggressive lower grille appears on the new Si, as well as more aggressive sculpting on the side panels. Fuel economy on the 2012 Civic Si is up from 21/29 mpg city/highway to 31 mpg on the highway for the 2012 car. City mileage on all models has yet to be announced.

New 41-MPG Civic HF Model
Likely inspired by the 40-mpg Hyundai Elantra and 42-mpg Chevrolet Cruze Eco, Honda is bringing back the HF trim on the Civic. For the 2012 model year, this means 41 mpg on the highway and, as with the volume Civic models, a five-speed automatic transmission and 140-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Most Civic models will be equipped with what’s called Honda ECO Assist technology, which gives drivers feedback that can help increase efficiency. The HF model will only be offered on the sedan.

45-MPG Civic Hybrid
Big changes are headed to the Civic Hybrid for the 2012 model year. No, it still falls far short of the Toyota Prius’ combined 50 mpg, but the 45-mpg combined score of the 2012 Civic Hybrid is far above the 2011 model’s 41 mpg combined. The hybrid’s nickel metal hydride battery is gone, replaced by a lithium-ion battery. The engine has increased in size, from 1.3 to 1.5 liters while combined electric and gas engine power remains at 110 horsepower. A CVT is the only transmission here. The Civic Hybrid is distinguished from other 2012 Civics by the turn signals integrated into the side mirrors and a horizontal piece of blue trim on the unique front grille. The natural gas Civic GX will continue to be offered, and Honda says it receives a 7-percent improvement in fuel economy.

Civic Sedan and Coupe
The Civic retains its 140-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine for 2012. With the five-speed automatic, non-HF models are expected to achieve 39 mpg on the highway, a 3-mpg increase from the 2011 model. Honda wouldn’t confirm any information on the manual transmission model, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the five-speed manual transmission is a carryover from the 2011 model year, with highway fuel economy bumping up to 38 mpg.

So the 2012 Civic is class competitive on mileage, how about dynamics and pricing? We’ll have to wait a little longer for those details on the 2012 Civic, which launches this spring.

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