Hybrid Nation

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid

Sep 29, 2006
Outside Magazine
2006 Honda Civic Hybrid

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid    Photo: +ISM

Alt Fuel: Ethanol

Hybrids are leading the eco-car market, but they aren't the only way to run cleaner. Here and on the pages that follow, we examine four of the most promising alternatives, starting with ethanol. Optimists Say: Six million “flex-fuel" cars on U.S. roads today can run on either gasoline or E85, which is 85 percent ethanol (made from corn or other starches), producing 12 percent fewer greenhouse emissions than comparable gas-burners. Pessimists Say: Ethanol sources are limited, with just 835 pumping stations nationwide, mainly in the Midwest. To grow enough corn to match the demand for fuel, the U.S. would need twice the arable land we currently have for all crops. Learn More: www....

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid
From its kaleidoscope of a dashboard to its aerodynamic shape, the '06 Civic Hybrid is self-consciously modern, but inside the curves lies a classy, practical transporter. The Civic got the best mileage of any hybrid tested, pulling an average of 40 mpg during a mix of city and highway driving. For 2006, Honda improved the Integrated Motor Assist hybrid-drive system introduced in its Insight (the first mass-produced hybrid sold in the U.S.) in 1999. The system can propel the car on electric power alone, giving it full-hybrid status. But the noisy 1.3-liter engine still kicks over while the electric motor does its work, preventing the quiet cruising you get with the Toyota and Ford/Mercury systems. Drivers looking for more power can trade up to the Honda Accord Hybrid (MPG: EPA, 25 city/34 highway), a $30,000 hot rod (relatively speaking) with a system tuned for high performance, not maximum fuel efficiency.

MSRP: $23,350 As tested: $23,900 Hybrid premium: $2,500 MPG: EPA, 49 city/51 highway; our average, 40 Decrease in annual greenhouse-gas emissions from comparable gas-only model: 32.7 percent Pros: Fuel economy, comfort, value for money, full-size trunk Con: Could use another 20 horsepower

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