TO THE POINTWhat’s New? With daring new styling, a more powerful and fuel-efficient powertrain, added interior space, and a bigger trunk, the redesigned 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid is also more fun to drive while getting better gas mileage. Selling Points: Sleek styling, sophisticated engineering, comfortable front and rear seats, lots of standard safety equipment, reputation for reliability, excellent fuel economy Deal Breakers: Funky dash design, not as roomy or utilitarian as a Toyota Prius Our Advice: If high fuel prices and long waiting lists at the Toyota dealer have got you down, the redesigned 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid might be just the cure for what ails.
It ain’t easy being green. Just ask Kermit the Frog, the wise and personable Muppet who always got sucker punched by Grover on the children’s television show “Sesame Street,” and who later dated a self-absorbed pig in a series of forgettable movies.
Likewise, choosing a high-mileage Honda hybrid hasn’t made it easy to be green. Compromises in terms of space, comfort, utility, and image were an integral part of the package. If you wanted everyone to know how much you cared about the environment, the sleek but strange Insight two-seater proclaimed your green leanings to the world, but lacked power and interior space. Then there was the Civic Hybrid, which looked pretty much like the standard Civic sedan, keeping the owner’s activism a secret. But, the Civic’s added room for passengers and cargo, along with enough power to cruise all the way to Vegas with the air conditioning blasting, was the trade-off for the Civic Hybrid’s anonymity.
For 2006, Honda makes it easier being green. The Honda Civic Hybrid is completely redesigned with daring new styling, a more powerful and fuel-efficient powertrain, added interior space, and a bigger trunk. It still looks too much like a regular Civic sedan, and it doesn’t feature the handy utility of the Toyota Prius’s folding rear seats and hatchback configuration, but for about $21,500 and with real-world fuel economy in the high 40s, it might be worth getting out of line at the local Toyota dealer and checking out the latest high-mileage car from Honda.