2007 Civic Hybrid New Car Test Drive
The compact class remains one of the most competitive in the new car market, in number of entries as well as price. Honda in 2006 re-staked its claim to the head of the class with the introduction of a completely reworked and updated Civic. And not just in the mainstream, family-car niche, but in the sporty subcompact arena, too, with the return of a hopped-up coupe, the Si, the latest reincarnation of the late, lamented CRX.
For 2007, everything pretty much remains the same, with one notable exception. Civic buyers with families may now have their cake and eat it, too. Honda has expanded the four-door sedan line to include an Si version, in almost every measure save the number of doors the equal of the Si coupe. It has the same 197-horsepower engine, the same six-speed manual transmission, and the same four-wheel disc brake setup. Honda's engineers tweaked its suspension to compensate for the sedan's longer wheelbase. Front-seat passengers get the Si coupe's sport seats. And both Si editions come standard with an electronic stability program for added control in emergency maneuvers.
Honda also continues offering a natural gas-powered sedan, the GX, which the company introduced during the 2006 model year. Availability is limited to residents of New York and California and fleets there and elsewhere.
The Civic Hybrid sedan uses a 1.3-liter four-cylinder coupled with a permanent magnet electric motor and a continuously variable transmission. This reduces emissions dramatically, while improving fuel economy.
The 2007 Honda Civic is available in coupe and sedan versions. The DX, LX, and EX models share a 140-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and an optional five-speed automatic. The base coupe with a 140-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission starts at $14,810 MSRP. Other cars in the class may undercut the Civic on pricing, but the Civic includes important safety features, including side-impact airbags that others leave on the option list.
The Honda Civic DX coupe ($14,810) and DX sedan ($15,010) are the base models. Standard equipment is confined to power windows, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, height-adjustable driver's seat and fold-down rear seatback. The coupe gets a rear decklid spoiler. Buyers wanting a radio must supply their own or order from the dealer, but a rear window-integrated radio antenna is standard. Brakes are disc in front, drum in rear. P195/65R15 tires wrap around steel wheels with full-cover hubcaps.
The LX coupe ($16,760) and sedan ($16,960) includes air conditioning; power mirrors; keyless remote and central locking; cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls; a center console with sliding armrest; overhead map lights; a 160-watt, AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 and WMA playback, an auxiliary input jack and speed-sensitive auto-volume control; front passenger seatback-mounted magazine pocket; and floor mats. The coupe has a rear seat walk-in feature that remembers the front passenger seat's setting. Tires grow to P205/55R16 on full-capped steel wheels.
The EX coupe ($18,710) and sedan ($18,710) add 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. The keyless remote adds a trunk release button. Brakes shift to discs at all four corners, and steel wheels give way to alloy. There are few options available, and Honda positions its options packages and automatic transmissions as separate models, so for example, there are the Civic coupe EX with voice-recognition Navigation, XM Satellite Radio and automatic transmission ($21,260) and the similarly equipped sedan version ($21,260).
The Si coupe ($21,090) and the new-for-2007 sedan ($21,290) come with all the gear found on the LX coupe and sedan plus leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, amber-tinted headlight trim rings and a body-colored rear wing spoiler. Standard tires are all-season, P215/45R17 on alloy wheels. New for 2007 and standard on both coupe and sedan is electronic vehicle stability assist system with traction control. Both also are available with high-performance, P215/45ZR17 tires and the navigation system with XM Satellite Radio ($23,040 and $23,240, respectively).
The Hybrid sedan ($22,600) 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 and XM Satellite Radio ($24,350).
The GX ($24,590) is essentially an LX sedan with the alternatively fueled engine.
Dealers offer a wide range of Honda-approved accessories (installation is extra in all instances). Among these are 16-inch alloy wheels ($876), 17-inch alloy wheels ($976), chrome exhaust finisher ($125), fog lights ($325), a full nose mask ($155), a trunk tray ($105), leather steering wheel cover ($79) and a full menu of aero-style, exterior body add-ons for the sedan (e.g., side spoiler: $589; rear wing spoiler: $499).
Rising to the challenge (read: profit potential) of the performance aftermarket, Honda Factory Performance packages are offered for the two Si models and for the LX and EX coupes and sedans. The Si HFP packages include lowered springs, more tautly tuned shocks, a sports muffler, 18-inch alloy wheels, a full lower-body aero kit and the HFP emblem (coupe: $3754; sedan: est. $3800). The LX and EX HFP package for the coupe ($3118) and sedan ($3197) substitutes 17-inch alloy wheels, drops the muffler and adds a rear spoiler. (Prices do not include installation, which is set by dealers, or tires, which are priced locally.).