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2007 Honda Civic Hybrid test drive

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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2007 Honda Civic Hybrid left front view

2007 Honda Civic Hybrid left front shot

photo © Adrian Gable

Start with a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, add Honda’s strong engineering design and Integrated Motor Assist, throw in three years’ experience, and you get the 2007 Civic Hybrid. From a company that sold the first hybrid in America, Honda continues to have its finger on the pulse of eco-popularity with the Civic’s spunky 110 HP and practical efficient styling. Yes, wrap your hands around the wheel from the company that kicked off the hybrid revolution in America. While base sedans start at $22,600, our tester with Navigation and XM Satellite Radio was $24,350 with a first-rate EPA rating of 49/51. Warranty below*.

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Initial Impression: If it’s a Honda, we're in

2007 Honda Civic Hybrid cockpit view

Lots of interesting design techniques come together in the Civic Hybrid interior.

photo © Adrian Gable

Christine: “Civics. I see them everywhere—folks just seem to like ‘em—and with this hybrid’s sweet EPA ratings, I couldn’t wait to see how this baby performed in real world conditions. Hey, I’m always game for driving a Honda, and the Civic GX model was a blast. Would the hybrid version prove to be as much fun?”

Scott: “This car looked like a sleeper, understated in every way from neutral paint color to conservatively-styled wheels. I remember being quite pleasantly surprised by the crisp and agile handling of other Civics I've driven. My question: Did Honda tone down that nimble suspension package on the hybrid version, and instead devote all of their engineering prowess to the hybrid system?”

*Honda’s Bumper-To-Bumper Warranty of 3years/36,000 miles is backed up with an IMA Battery Warranty of 8 years/80,000miles with AT-PZEV coverage in the states of CA, NY, ME, VT, MA, CT of 10 years/150,000 miles. Plus, the Federal Emissions warranty of 3 years/36,000 miles is supplemented by 8 year /80,000 mile coverage for specified major emission control components. In California it’s 3/50,000 plus AT-PZEV warranty coverage of 15/150,000 and 10/150,000 (IMA Battery).

The Insider’s View: All-around practicality

While we personally wouldn’t choose tan cloth upholstery (yes, it’s hard-to-clean with those inevitable little fingerprints and juice spills), it made for an overall attractive interior. And, although there weren’t electric driver seat controls, the air pump height control and telescopic wheel made it easier for big and small to find comfort, although Scott liked the firm seating better, and was able to get more comfortable than Christine.

The digital cut-into-dash speedometer pod was a breeze to glance at for current stats. And that’s a good thing—because the Civic proved to be light and nimble on roads and Christine found it all too easy to speed in this baby. Every time she glanced at the cool blue numbers, it seemed she was over the posted limit. Luckily she got a handle on the spunky little number quickly – there’s nothing quite like a speeding hybrid to put perspective on the fuel mileage. Aggressive driving, even in this little baby, will pull those fuel economy numbers down. The analog tachometer sat alongside the digital bar graph that depicted current battery charge and assist conditions with a climbing green bar (charge) or white bar (battery assist). All in all, the interior isn’t fancy, isn’t frilly, it really just fits the driver of a Civic: practical, efficient—and looks good, to boot.

Fuel-ability: Numbers that make you wanna sing

2007 Honda Civic Hybrid battery charging

The Civic Hybrid takes full advantage of off-throttle time to save gas.

photo © Scott Gable

Who can’t get excited about fuel economy that tops 40 mpg? And that’s where the Civic Hybrid shines – it keeps the features that folks love -- but makes it more worth everyone’s while with an efficient 1.3-liter SOHC 8-valve, 4-cylinder engine with Integrated Motor Assist and the nickel-metal hydride battery—a total package that kicks out a spunky 110-horsepower. While our real world numbers weren’t as glowing as the EPA’s, our little Civic Hybrid handled like a tight-fitting glove, and fuel economy came in solidly at 41.4.

Quiet and clean, the Civic Hybrid utilizes an auto-stop feature that’s popular in mild hybrids. And that shut-off savings at an idle really adds up. Every time the driver pulls up to a stop sign or traffic light, the engine shuts down—hence, the green Auto Stop light by the tach blinks—and as soon as the foot releases the brake, the SOHC engine fires to life and you’re on your way. Hey, overall, this hybrid makes conserving gasoline easy. And fun. Really. While the fuel mileage is certainly nothing to complain about, we wonder what could be if Honda went to the next level and made this little guy a bonafide full hybrid. We think 50+ mpg would be a cake walk.

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