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Consumer Reports Names 2006 Honda Civic Its Top-Rated Small Sedan ...

Contact: Douglas Love, 914-378-2437, dlove@consumer.org or C. Matt Fields, 914-378-2454, cfields@consumer.org - both of Consumer Reports

YONKERS, N.Y., Jan. 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Consumer Reports named the Honda Civic its top-rated small sedan following tests of the Civic, Volkswagen Jetta, and Subaru Impreza for the February issue. The Civic outpointed all of the other small sedans tested by Consumer Reports including the very competent Mazda3 and Ford Focus.

The Civic EX with a manual transmission slightly outpointed Consumer Reports' previously-rated top small sedan, the Mazda3 i, also equipped with a manual transmission.

The seven-vehicle test group included three versions of the Civic, two of the Jetta, and two of the Impreza. Among them were the Civic Hybrid, which achieved 37 mpg overall in Consumer Reports' testing and a diesel-powered Jetta that achieved 34 mpg overall.

The Civic EX, with both manual and automatic transmissions, and the Civic Hybrid, are rated "Very Good" overall. The diesel- powered Jetta TDI and Jetta 2.5 are also rated Very Good overall. The Impreza 2.5i is rated "Very Good," while the sporty Impreza WRX is rated "Excellent."

"The redesigned Honda Civic is a major improvement over the previous generation," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. "The 2006 Civic is refined and economical, with fairly nimble handling and relatively comfortable ride."

Full tests and ratings of the small sedans appear in the February issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale January 10. The complete report is also available to subscribers of http://www.ConsumerReports.org?source=CR54 .

Consumer Reports recommends the Civic and Impreza models from this test group. The Jetta is too new for CR to have reliability data and so cannot be recommended at this time. Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's survey of its own subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The aerodynamic styling of the redesigned Civic looks futuristic but sacrifices ease of access. The Civic EX is powered by a 140-hp, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers adequate performance. The five-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive. Expect 28 mpg overall for the EX with the automatic. The manual EX is quicker and delivers 31 mpg overall. The Civic Hybrid delivers 37 mpg overall. The Civic EX with the automatic transmission as tested carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of $19,610 while the EX with a manual is $18,810, and the Hybrid is $22,400. Braking performance is very good for all three.

The redesigned Jetta is larger and more expensive than its predecessor, and it approaches the family-sedan category in both price and interior room. High-quality interior improvements are still a strong suit. Power and handling have been improved, but the ride is a bit stiffer. The Jetta ($24,580 MSRP for the TDI diesel as tested and $23,580 for the Jetta 2.5) is powered by either a 150-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 100-hp, 1.9- liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel. The gasoline-powered version of the Jetta is slightly quicker than the Civic EX with an automatic. It delivered an unimpressive 24 mpg overall in CR's tests. The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth but not very responsive. The diesel-powered Jetta is slower than the gas- powered version but gets an excellent 34 mpg overall. Its 46 mpg on the highway is nearly as good as the Civic Hybrid's 47 mpg. The new six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox is smooth and responsive. Braking is very good overall.

The Impreza delivers agile handling and a compliant ride. All- wheel-drive is standard. But the interior is cramped and spartan. The drag and weight from its all-wheel-drive system take a toll on acceleration and fuel economy. The turbocharged WRX variant offers impressive performance for the price, but the suspension revisions have made handling less forgiving at the limits. The Impreza WRX ($24,620 MSRP as tested) is equipped with a 230-hp, 2.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers impressive performance and 22 mpg overall with a five-speed stick. The Impreza 2.5i is propelled by a 173-hp, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that offers adequate performance. The four- speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Both Imprezas stopped very well and had better pedal feel than earlier versions.

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Website; the magazine's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645.

Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org?source=CR55

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EDITORS: A downloadable graphic supporting this story is available for free editorial use at http://www.wirepix.com/newsphotos

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Consumer Reports Names 2006 Honda Civic Its Top-Rated Small Sedan ...
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