By Clint Williams

Let’s be honest: For most folks, conservation implies sacrifice. Maybe even a little discomfort. Turn down the thermostat to save energy, your feet are cold.

There is no sacrifice involved driving the 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid. Not after you write the check, anyway. In fact, Honda this year is adding some nice touches. The most important addition is electronic stability control, now standard. Options now include leather-trimmed interior, heated seats, navigation system, XM satellite radio and Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®.

The Civic Hybrid is powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and a 15 kilowatt electric motor, producing a combined 110-horsepower. That horsepower is harnessed by a smooth continuously variable transmission. Acceleration is best described as adequate, but this isn’t a sports car.

Steering is reassuringly crisp and overall handling is good, helped by a rigid body frame and fully-independent MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension.

The leather-trimmed interior is handsome and the bright, glowing digital displays are very easy to read and have a spaceship look. There are plenty of nooks for storage. Rear legroom is surprisingly generous if there are two adults in the back. But if there are three, the third passenger needs to be the shortest one in the group.

But people will buy this car to save gas. The Civic Hybrid has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon in city driving and 45 mpg on the highway. The test car fell a bit short of that, getting 37.8 mpg, according to the dashboard trip computer, in a mix of city and highway driving typical to suburban life.

That is still significantly higher than a Civic EX-L with a five-speed automatic transmission that gets 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.

The higher fuel economy of the Civic Hybrid comes at a cost. The top-of-the-line hybrid tested has a sticker price of $26,750 – $3,195 more than a comparably equipped EX-L edition.

Copyright © 2008 | Distributed by Noofangle Media

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