- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2008

Honda introduced its first generation Civic model in 1973 which was instrumental in establishing the Japanese automaker as a truly international car company. The Civic was literally totally reinvented for 2006 (its eighth generation). Both coupe and sedan configurations were indicative of an extreme transformation in terms of design and dynamicism, which established new, higher standards for the segment. The Civic now provides more efficient engine technologies along with advanced safety features and equipment as standard fare — things such as side curtain airbags and Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering Body Structure.

For the 2009 model year, the Honda Civic Hybrid benefits from new exterior styling, and moves into a higher premium status with the addition of available features including: leather-trimmed seating surfaces and steering wheel; heated front seats and side mirrors; and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink on models equipped with Honda’s Satellite-linked Navigation System. Vehicle Stability Assist, generally referred to as electronic stability control, is added as standard fare.

The exterior exhibits bold, expressive styling, with a sweeping roofline and a sleek windshield angle that conveys an advanced, forward-motion profile with a low wide stance. New for 2009, is a revised grille opening along with a new front bumper cover that adopts a new three-port form at the lower air intake, which replaces the old, one continuous opening. New headlight and taillight color combinations incorporate clear turn indicator lenses with amber bulbs. The overall design now finally displays some emotion, with the old “three-box” concept having been totally eliminated.

Moving to the interior, the two-tier instrument panel places priority gauges appropriately higher in the driver’s field of vision, and audiophiles are rewarded with up to seven ways to enjoy their tunes, including traditional AM/FM radio, Compact discs, digital audio card reader, XM satellite radio, MP3, WMA support, along with an accessory Apple iPod adapter that connects to the Civic’s audio controls.

The Civic lineup includes sedans, coupes and hatchback models. Sedans are available in DX, LX and EX trim levels. Coupes will wear DX, LX, and EX badging. A sporty Hatchback is available in the Civic Si, as well as a Civic Si Coupe. An ecologically friendlier choice continues to be offered in the Civic Hybrid, which adds XM satellite radio as standard fare for navigation-equipped units.

The tested Civic Hybrid, closely resembles the EX sedan in appearance, but it’s powered by a 1.3 liter SOHC, 8-valve I-VTEC 4-cylinder with 20 horsepower (76 pound feet of torque) electric motor with Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which regulates motive force to the front wheels. The exterior was finished Magnetic Gray Pearl metallic with a two-tone Bone and Charcoal leather interior complemented by chrome trim accents. The base price amounted to $26,750, which included the NAVI system while the final sticker came to $27,420 after adding the destination and handling charges. Items such as air conditioning, cruise control and power windows and door locks are all part of the standard inventory.

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