San Francisco: Honda
was the first manufacturer to introduce a car with a hybrid engine
technology to the American market, with the tiny Insight in 1999. Honda
has been building efficient automobiles for decades, so making a hybrid
version of the Civic seems like a great idea.
With a complete redesign for 2006, the new Civic is
now a multi award winner, too. The Civic Hybrid has just won the World
Car of the Year for greenest car. Motor Trend magazine already gave the
entire Civic line its prestigious Car of the Year award. Looking at the
roadways, the 2006 car is obviously a winner with the driving public as
Hybrids get better fuel mileage, because they use
gas engines and electric motors together. Beyond that, it starts to get
technical. The Civic Hybrid's Integrated Motor Assist system (IMA) pairs
a small, highly efficient gasoline engine with a compact electric motor
to produce enough power to propel the 2,875 pound sedan in a
satisfyingly quick manner. The electric motor runs on power that is
generated whenever the brakes are applied, so the car never needs to be
plugged in, as a matter of fact, you can't plug it in.
The Civic Hybrid's 1.3-liter four cylinder gas
engine produces 110 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 123 lb.-ft of torque.
The electric motor generates 20 horsepower at a low 2,000 rpm and a
substantial 76 lb.-ft. of torque at 1-1,160 rpm. The engine and motor,
as you can see, complement each other. With a combined 130 horsepower
and 199 lb.-ft. of torque, the Civic Hybrid never feels like a slug.
Previous Civic Hybrids used their gasoline engines
all the time, with the electric motor chiming in when needed for
acceleration, climbing hills, and so on. For 2006, the engine shuts down
during certain cruising situations. The car normally shuts off at
stops to conserve gas, turning on automatically as soon as you release
the brake pedal.
Honda's philosophy of hybrids is to make the cars
efficient for high mileage commuters, so the EPA mileage figures are
almost exactly the same for city and highway driving, at 49 mpg and 51
I had the good fortune to drive an Alabaster Silver
2006 Honda Civic Hybrid during some rare nice weather this spring. I
took a 224 mile round trip from my home to Monterey. On my way down, I
averaged 43 miles per gallon, and for the total trip, it improved to
45.9 mpg. At the 200 mile mark, before commute traffic set in, I hit my
peak average of 53.0 miles per gallon. Now that's good! The overall
mileage for the 486.3 mile week dropped to 38.0 mpg, which is a still
quite an achievement.
The Civic is a very comfortable, pleasant car to
drive. The new larger shape, which rises from nose to rooftop and tapers
back to the tail in one grand sweep, conveys a spacious feeling inside.
The front pillar, with its little window inside, gives a mini minivan
feeling up front.
The progressive new body styling permeates into the
slick interior, with sweeping, dramatic curves and textures blending
together. An ingenious double bent brake lever takes up much less space.
Most impressive is the split gauge panel, which shows essential
information such as speed and fuel as digital readouts just below the
windshield glass. The analog tachometer and warning lights live inside
the steering wheel rim, in a more traditional dash. The whole thing has
a bit of a video game feel, especially at night with the colorful panel
My car came with a voice recognition system. I was
able to set the navigation destination, although it required some
repeats. I turned the audio system on and off. I asked the time and it
told me. I turned on the rear defroster, played CDs, and raised and
lowered the temperature. I asked the device to find me the nearest gas
station and it listed several, with the nearest at the top. If I
selected one, it would be glad to guide me there. The system didn't
always understand me. I asked for Chevron stations and got shoe stores.
But my favorite command was, How far to the destination? The voice
promptly told me.
The Civic Hybrid costs more than the other Civics,
but it has much to recommend it. Besides the obvious fuel savings, in
California you can drive in the carpool lane with a single driver, if
you're willing to apply some homely decals. There are some one-time tax
advantages too (see your accountant).
Expect to pay $24,200, including destination
charges, for the Civic Hybrid with the navigation system, $22,700
without. For comparison, the top level Civic EX non-hybrid sedan, with
automatic, retails for $19,710.
Can you ever recoup the additional price of the
Hybrid with the better mileage it delivers? It depends on how much you
drive, how efficiently you drive, how long you own it, and how much gas
is going to cost. But there are other good reasons for driving a hybrid
car, such as saving the planet. The best thing is, it takes no extra
effort to drive one, and Hondas are known for quality and reliability.
Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Honda Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
are good reasons for driving a hybrid car
2006 Honda Civic Hybrid
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