The Civic Hybrid was the first mainstream hybrid on the market when it was introduced in 2003 -- and it's the premium car in Honda's popular Civic family. It gets its fuel savings by using a stingy, 1.3-liter gasoline engine that's helped along, when necessary, by the electric motor. That kicks in for hard acceleration to join freeway traffic or go up long grades.
The Good Okay performance from a tiny gasoline engine
The Bad Pretty chintzy interior and amenities for a car of this price
The Bottom Line Basic transportation, but with an environmentalist pedigree
The hybrid's spoilers, front and rear, are different than those of other Civics, and it has lightweight alloy wheels. Inside, look for a better grade of fabric on the seats and automatic climate control, neither of which is available on the rest of the line. As with the Accord Hybrid, you'll have to give up the moon roof to get the hybrid.
Perhaps the best feature of the hybrid Civic is that it feels heavier and more substantial, and quieter, on the open road, more like a bigger car than the subcompact it really is.
By Larry Armstrong