2006 Civic Hybrid New Car Test Drive
It's hard to find a more competitive new car market than the compact class. And it's more than just price, as the number of entries has skyrocketed in recent years.
Honda once led the class, in every measure that mattered, from performance to price to quality to pizzazz. And just as important image-wise, Honda led the hot, sport compact niche. In fact, many credit Honda with unknowingly creating the sport compact craze with the Civic CRX.
In recent years, however, the four-door Civic, the sedan that carried the water for the company, has been more bland than beautiful, more efficient than exciting.
No more. With the redesigned, restyled, rejuvenated 2006 Honda Civic models, the company has returned to the fray with renewed energy.
Across the line, there's more power, improved ride and handling, and better people packaging. There are more choices as well: a sporty new Civic Si coupe, a fully populated tier of coupes and sedans with new engines and transmissions, and a more efficient and effective Hybrid sedan. The jury's still out on some of the more ambitious styling ventures, but overall, the new swoopy look turns heads and generates smiles.
Prices start at $14,560 MSRP for the base coupe with a 140-horsepower four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission and top out at $22,150 for the gas/electric Hybrid sedan. In between there's a sedan listing at $15,560 with the new five-speed automatic. The Si starts at $20,290. There are other cars in the class that undercut these figures, but the Civic includes important safety features, including antilock brakes and side-impact airbags as standard equipment, that many others leave on the option list.
Honda doesn't hold back when it comes to fleshing out a model line. For 2006, there are no fewer than four Civic models, two coupes and two sedans. Three of the coupes and three of the sedans, the DX, the LX and the EX models, share a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and an optional five-speed automatic ($800). A performance-oriented coupe, the Si, comes with a 197-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-4 fitted with a six-speed manual. The Hybrid sedan has a 1.3-liter four-cylinder coupled with a permanent magnet electric motor and a continuously variable transmission.
The DX coupe ($14,560) and DX sedan ($14,760) are the base models. Standard equipment is confined to power windows, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel and height-adjustable driver's seat. Buyers wanting a radio must supply their own or order from the dealer, but a rear window-integrated radio antenna is standard.
The LX coupe ($16,510) and sedan ($16,710) expands the standard equipment list to include air conditioning; power mirrors; central locking; cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls; a center console with sliding armrest; overhead map lights; a 160-watt, four-speaker, AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 and WMA playback and speed-sensitive auto-volume control; front passenger seatback-mounted magazine pocket; and floor mats.
The EX is the nominal top of the line in both coupe ($18,460) and sedan ($18,460). Added to the no-extra-charge features on the LX are power moonroof; variable windshield wipers; a second 12-volt power outlet; a 60/40 split folding rear seatback; a seven-speaker, 350-watt, XM-ready, premium stereo with auxiliary input jack and steering wheel-mounted controls; and outside temperature indicator. There are few options available and Honda positions its options packages and automatic transmissions as separate models, so for example, there is the Civic coupe EX with Navigation and automatic transmission ($21,010) and the similarly equipped sedan version ($20,760).
The Si coupe ($20,290) comes with all the gear found on the LX coupe plus leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, amber-tinted headlight trim rings and a body-colored rear wing spoiler. The Si coupe is available with high-performance summer tires and the navigation system with XM Satellite Radio ($22,240).
The Hybrid sedan ($22,150) adds to the LX's features automatic climate control, a roof-mounted radio antenna, a rear decklid spoiler, and hybrid-pertinent digital data displays. The Hybrid is available with the navigation system ($23,650).
Dealer accessories include 16-inch alloy wheels ($876), chrome exhaust tips ($119), and aero-style, exterior body add-ons for the sedan. Honda Factory Performance packages are available for the Si, one for the LX and EX coupes and sedans. The Si HFP package includes lowered springs, more tautly tuned shocks, a sports muffler, 18-inch alloy wheels, a full lower-body aero kit and the HFP emblem ($3880). The LX and EX HFP package for the coupe ($3183) and sedan ($3680) substitutes 17-inch alloy wheels, drops the muffler and adds a rear spoiler. Installation costs extra and is set by dealers.