Complaint: The hypocrisy of the U.S. environmental movement. Numerous tests, including those done by Argonne Laboratories, indisputably prove that diesel-electric hybrids offer even better fuel economy than gasoline-electric models. Yet the U.S. environmental movement tends to oppose all things diesel, even though diesels now account for 40 percent of all new passenger vehicles sold in Europe. When will this knee-jerk opposition to diesels end?
Praise: The Civic Hybrid goes to first place on my list of U.S.-market gas-electric hybrids. Honda delivered here -- a simple hybrid car that is easy to live with and drive.
Head-turning quotient: Honda would do well to learn some more about sex. Small, simple and practical doesn't have to be ugly, plain or boring. The Mini Cooper proved that much. It's a hot little car with loads of personality, a conventional gasoline engine and an mpg rating that easily rivals that of the Civic Hybrid.
Body style/layout: Four-door sedan. Front-engine, front-wheel-drive.
Capacities: Seats four people comfortably. Cargo capacity is 10.1 cubic feet. Fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons. Regular unleaded gasoline is required.
Mileage: About 48 mpg in mostly highway driving.
Safety: Side air bags, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), anti-lock braking system and immobilizer anti-theft system are standard.
Price: Base price is $19,550. Dealer's invoice price on base model is $17,864. Price as tested is $20,010, including a $460 destination charge.
Purse-strings note: It's a buy. Compare with Toyota Prius.