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2008 Honda Civic Hybrid

2008 Honda Civic Hybrid

Chevy Impala FlexFuel

Mercedes-Benz C-Class FlexFuel

Chevy Malibu Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz E320 BLUETEC

Chrysler Town & Country

Mercury Grand Marquis

Honda Civic Hybrid

Nissan Altima Hybrid

Lexus GS 450h Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid


If cars got report cards, the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid could score an "A" for advantage. On a scale of polluting to green, the Japanese auto company was a first to take aim at reducing toxic vehicle emissions and get its developments to market. Honda expands on the long reputation of its compact Civic that claimed environmental leadership for its low emissions a decade ago. Now, for 2008, it offers a continuation of its newest generation hybrid version of the Civic sedan launched two years ago, that already has won honors for its lower environmental impact.

Like many other hybrids, you probably wouldn't be aware of its advanced technology if it weren't for the small hybrid logo on the outside. Visually, its classic Civic sedan shape is more streamlined than past versions with steeply sweeping roofline, solid low stance for drivability, rakish rear spoiler and European style antenna for pizzazz among features.

Inside, despite such amenities as the available navigation system, digital audio flash card reader, and widespread use of airbags for safety, the well-equipped hybrid heritage shows immediately in futuristic instrument gauges peeking back through the steering wheel opening. Designed to show energy consumption (gas engine or electric-only driving) or energy creation (regenerative braking and more), it seems to soft-touch drivers who might otherwise tromp the gas pedal. In a hybrid, one tends to become aware of the need to conserve and eke out the most miles per gallon of gasoline. There's no split rear seating for less flexibility, but the tradeoff is a 40 mpg city and 45 mpg highway EPA mileage rating.

Heart of the hybrid Civic is a 1.3-liter, iVTEC 4-cylinder gasoline engine that mates with a 15-kilowatt (20-horsepower) electric motor, combining to produce 110-horsepower overall. As with other hybrids, braking helps recharge the battery pack and allows the vehicle to run only on electric power at times. When the engine's off during idling, the system continues to provide power for accessories. Pricing, including optional navigation and satellite radio (about $1,500) is $24,350.