The Honda Civic is one of the most popular cars in America. People love its reliability, great gas mileage, and driveability. The Honda Civic hybrid, on the other hand, has stayed largely in the shadows. In the United States, the market for gas/electric cars has been dominated by another Japanese car, the
But if you're in the market for a sedan that's dependable, gets great gas mileage, and is easy to drive, check out the Civic hybrid, which shares those qualities in almost equal proportions with its traditional-fuel sibling. Plus, you can sport that smug little grin that says, "I'm not consuming as much fossil fuel as you are," or something like that.
Our test drive model, which came with a navigation system and satellite radio, costs about $24,350. Seating is comfortable, and larger drivers and passengers won't feel too cramped in the Civic.
There's plenty of storage space up front for MP3 players, wireless phones, and CDs. Rear seat passengers who are of average size also should be fairly comfortable, but tall passengers might be a bit squeezed.
For the driver, the instrumentation is extremely user friendly, with all gauges well-placed and well-illuminated.
With regards to gas mileage, it's a hybrid, so lots of miles per gallon are expected. And you get it, if you stick to mostly in-town, stop-and-go driving. But we did a fair amount of highway driving and gas mileage fell significantly short of the Civic hybrid's EPA numbers of 40 miles per gallon, city, and 45 miles per gallon, highway. Our numbers were closer to 35 and 37. But hey, we weren't complaining, with gas costing more than $3 a gallon.
Dual-stage, side, and side-curtain airbags are standard on the Civic, as are antilock brakes. The car gets a five-star (top-notch) government crash-test rating for frontal crashes and a four-star rating for side crashes for the front seat passengers.
The four-cylinder, 1.3-liter engine and its accompanying electric motor produce a modest 110 horsepower, but don't be fooled by that number. The Civic hybrid has adequate power to break into a full sprint when it is time to merge onto a busy highway, and it can playfully jog over winding country roads. Engine noise is somewhat high, but it's not bothersome. And in fact, when you're stopped at a light, there's no engine noise at all: like most hybrids, the gas-powered motor cuts off, thanks to the idle stop feature.
The car then runs on electricity only. Steering is fairly responsive and braking is sure.