2003 Honda Civic - Hybrid (CVT) Sedan
Pros: The engine shuts down while you're stopped. Completely quiet, no emissions, no waste.
Cons: Pickup is a little slow.
Advice: I love it.Good handling, very quiet, very comfortable. I was worried that this car wouldn't make it in the mountains, but it took the steep grades in the Rockies at 60 mph with the air conditioner on. It's not a racing car, but it does have enough power.
2003 Toyota Prius - Base
Pros: I purchased primarily for low emissions
Cons: Tough question. OK
Advice: For up to 4 1/2 peopleI used to drive a 1960's era Mercedes, and thought it was just about the perfect vehicle. The Prius changed my mind. Longest road trip to date 3500 miles in a week - enjoyed it all, even west Texas!. At highway speeds at or below 75 mph, 45 mpg is typical. The 2001 model sold in US did not offer cruise control; installed the OEM part myself with no difficulties. 'Water-clear' oil after 2000 mi (low duty cycle on the gas engine) and negligible brake pad wear after 28000 mi (regenerative braking) suggest long-term maintenance costs will be low in areas I have not seen addressed in published reviews. As to those, they seem to underrate its performance. Drive it yourself.
2003 Honda Civic - Hybrid (M5) Sedan
Pros: fuel economy with no sacrifice of style
Cons: underpowered on long highway uphills (but you charge the battery on downhills!)
Advice: It's a Civic! And a Hybrid. What more could you want?In the city, the hybrid handles as well or better than other gasoline powered cars we've driven. It takes a day or two to get used to the novelty of the complete engine shutdown at stops, but only because it's so pleasantly surprising. You keep thinking you've stalled, but, no, it picks up and goes instantly when you're ready. The ability to generate power when braking is fantastic. You end up watching the dials and playing a 'beat your last best mileage game'. We're getting 45 mpg in the city and up to 54 mpg on long highway trips (5 speed manual transmission). We went on a 420 mile trip using only 2/3 of a tank of gas!The engine is seriously underpowered on long highway hills and mountain passes when the electric assist is exhausted. It's not a highway dragster; don't get it if you want to pass at high speed. Get it if you're willing to accelerate moderately and cruise at 65-75 mph. Other than lacking highway power, it drives great and handles great in all situations. Feels great to drive. The layout of the dials (and you do watch the dials!) are far superior to the Toyota Prius. The Prius tries to be novel and is probably the slightly more 'green' car, but the Civic is simply a great car that happens to be hybrid. If you don't care about the new technology, the Toyota Echo, and Civic LX or DX are better buys. But this is the car that makes you feel like you've done the right thing and helps convince your friends and neighbors that this technology is here to stay.
2003 Honda Civic - Hybrid (CVT) Sedan
Pros: Fuel efficiency with minimal fuss
Cons: Cost of CD Changer option
Advice: Go for it!Based on two days of driving my 2003 Civic Hybrid, I can say it is one of the most satisfying automotive experiences I have had. As long as your goal is not to dominate the street racing circuit, the pickup is very adequate, interior room is good, and doesn't feel cramped. Steering is tight and precise, and every time you put on the brakes or decelerate, all that otherwise wasted energy goes flowing back into the battery to be reused. That is the real payoff. The ride is eerily quiet due to tthe smaller engine and automatic shutdown at red lights. I have the CVT automatic transmission and it is a smooth pull from stop to road speed with no perceptible 'shifting' or engine speed variation. It has what it needs and not much that it doesn't. The sound system is good. Everything seems to be where it belongs. I am pleased with my investment. The feeling that I really like is that I am contributing very little to the pollution of our atmosphere and the consumption of our resources.