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Honda's Hybrid Civic Priced Under $21,000


Honda has priced its new hybrid Civic, the third gas-electric car to go on sale in the U.S., at $19,500 for the manual transmission-equipped model and $20,500 for the version with constantly variable (automatic) transmission.

The five-passenger hybrid Civic combines a 1.3-liter gasoline engine with a small electric motor that provides an additional boost when needed and instant starting power that enables a sophisticated engine management computer to shut down the gas engine when the car is stopped at idle.

EPA Weighs In on Fuel Economy

The Environmental Protection Agency has finally issued its fuel economy ratings for the hybrid Civic, crediting the five-speed manual transmission with 46 miles per gallon in city driving and 51 mpg on the highway. The CVT-equipped Civic hybrid is rated at 48 city and 47 highway (the automatic increases fuel economy in stop-and-go driving by eliminating energy-wasting shifts between gear ratios, but isn't as efficient as a manual at prolonged speeds).

Most drivers know that it takes a superhuman effort, though, to achieve EPA mileage in real life. Honda's two-seat Insight hybrid with manual transmission, for example, was rated at 61 mpg in city driving and 68 mpg on the highway, but most owners report real-world mileage averaging 55 mpg.

Auction Winner Remains Anonymous

The proprietors of online auction site report that the Russian-built Zil-115 limousine that was offered on the site last month (Highway 1, 3/20) drew 99 bids and sold for $28,404 to a Los Angeles-based Israeli American businessman who bought it as a gift for his fiancee. The winning bidder did not want to be identified. The Zil was a 1982 model used by Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov.

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