Models like the Honda Civic Hybrid will receive powertrain updates.

Honda trails competitors whose vehicles are equipped with engines that mesh good performance and high fuel economy ratings. Honda hopes to lead the pack in this area with its new “Earth Dreams Technology.”

In a statement, Honda says its main targets include new gasoline and compact diesel engines, a new continuously variable transmission, a new two-motor hybrid system, an electric SH-AWD hybrid system and a new electric powertrain for electric vehicles. With these systems, Honda says one if its main goals is to offer the best balance of performance and fuel efficiency.

Most shoppers will see the changes on the Fit, Civic Hybrid, Insight, gas-only Civic, Accord and CR-V. “The 1.5-liter and 1.3-liter four-cylinder, currently found in the Civic Hybrid, Fit and Insight, also will feature additional extensive friction reduction measures,” says Kicking Tires. “The 1.5-liter will make 127 horsepower, which is 10 more hp than what’s available currently in the Fit, Keiji Ohtsu, a chief engineer with Honda R&D, told Automotive News. Honda’s bread and butter is its 2.4-liter four-cylinder that’s available on the Accord and CR-V. The motor will be 5% more fuel efficient with the addition of DOHC and direct injection, says Honda. It will produce 181 hp, Ohtsu said.”

Kicking Tires also says that with mechanical adjustments such as friction reduction, the Civic’s 1.8-liter and new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines should get more miles per gallon. On all four-cylinder Hondas, five-speed automatic transmissions will be replaced with CVTs for greater efficiency.

Honda doesn’t say which models will get the new hybrid systems. “The two-motor hybrid system is set to debut in unnamed midsize Honda vehicles starting with a plug-in hybrid model in 2012 and a hybrid model in 2013, said Honda in a statement on Wednesday. Presumably, the plug-in hybrid is the 2013 Honda Accord, which has not been officially announced, but is believed to be bound for the U.S. next year,” says Inside Line.

Inside Line predicts that the next NSX could get the electric SH-AWD hybrid system. Honda hasn’t confirmed this claim, though it mentions that the hybrid system’s 3.5-liter V6 engine will have the “acceleration equivalent to V8 engines, as well as fuel efficiency equal or superior to in-line 4-cylinder engines. ...”

There’s no word on which vehicle will get the electric powertrain, but Honda says it will have a range of 123 miles, and will charge in three hours with a 240-volt outlet. That’s outstanding compared with the seven hours it takes to charge the Nissan Leaf.

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