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Page 2
Refined. That was the first word that sprang to mind when I drove off for the first time in the Civic Hybrid. I think it was the lack of sound in the car that cinched it for me. The inside of the Hybrid is a veritable tomb on smooth pavement. The engine purrs quietly (unless you've come to a stop, in which case it shuts off) and wind noise is far off and distant to beyond legal speeds. On my freeway drive, I suddenly began noticing how much noise other cars were making. First there was the Focus with the 5" exhaust tip. I heard him coming from a couple hundred feet behind me. As he pulled off into the distance I could still hear him almost a football field away. Then there was the old Nissan Quest minivan with the squealing wheel bearing. I could hear that from one hundred feet back. It was eerie. Quiet cars are not uncommon these days, but a sub-$20k economy car this quiet? It was almost unbelievable. The look of the car also added to the refined ambience. The tasteful and functional aero mods, combined with the distinct alloy wheels and beautiful interior, would not seem out of place on a $25k-$30k vehicle.

The second thing that I noticed about this car was the stereo. Wow! The specifications didn't seem too unusual, but Honda did their homework on this one. Excellent volume, tight bass, good imaging – the works. Unlike many lower cost stereo systems from other manufacturers, this one doesn't try and convince you that a boomy bottom end means a better stereo, although it can put out a fair bit of bass if you ask it too. This stereo is better than the factory piece in my S2000, better than the stereo in a 2000 Civic, better than the stereos in the last generation Accords – in fact, it sounds about as good as the stereo in the TL-S. And while that doesn't mean it's a sound-off quality system, it is fabulous for (again) an economy car.

You may have noticed by now that I haven't spent one word discussing the driving experience. There is good reason for this - the Civic Hybrid behaves pretty much like any other Civic Sedan on the road. The ride is composed and does a good job of soaking up small road irregularities. Over large dips and compressions it could use a bit more damping, but this is a commuter sedan after all and I suspect most owners will appreciate the supple ride on bombed out city streets. Handling is surprisingly good considering that these 185mm wide Bridgestone tires are undoubtedly designed more for low rolling resistance and long life than they are more maximum traction. There is some body roll and the normal FWD understeer at the limits. But you can push the car into a turn surprisingly hard, even move the back end around a little with trail braking. Heck, with a rapidly deflating rear tire you can actually get some serious oversteer! (O.k., that was unintentional, we cut down a tire on the last day of testing) Braking was excellent too with a best stop of 131 ft from 60 mph.



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  Sorry guys but its pokey
vtechbrain 2
  dyno 01/08/03???
zapata 0
  How to engage auto-stop consistently
SoupedUpMonkey 0
  significant vehicle
TonyEX 1
  Excellent Review, Shawn!
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  efficiency and cost
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  Cargo room
sey51 2
  I think awareness will set in a bit later than you'd think...
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