Toyota Prius gets all the attention. Prius' unique appearance and Christmas-tree dashboard array continuously nudges onlookers (and passengers) that yes, folks, this is one of those environmentally sensitive hybrids that get fantastic fuel mileage while emitting fewer pollutants.
That's all good stuff, of course, and it has made Prius a hot seller. Adherents range from dedicated tree huggers to wealthy movie stars, all of whom tout the benefits of a vehicle that's not only easy on the wallet but easy on the atmosphere. advertisement
Meanwhile, Civic Hybrid soldiers quietly along, delivering the same benefits as Prius but without the buzz. Civic Hybrid looks nearly identical to a regular Civic sedan, a definite buzz killer, so that only those savvy enough to spot the "Hybrid" logo on the trunk would notice any difference.
But while prospective Prius drivers are putting their names on yearlong waiting lists, buyers can walk into Honda dealerships and drive away in hybrids.
Introduced in 2002, the gas/electric Civic was the second hybrid model for Honda, the first being the tiny, supermileage Insight two-seater. This year, a new Accord Hybrid is being marketed as much for strong acceleration as clean thriftiness.
Other hybrids from Ford, Lexus and General Motors have joined the fray, with many more to come. All the gas-electric hybrids cost more than their conventional counterparts, making the fuel-cost savings something of a wash.
But the clean-air benefits are undeniable, and as gas prices continue to soar, the folks driving hybrids are looking hipper all the time.