money


What do you think?
OIL/DRILLING
Business links

http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

SPECULATORS IN OIL AND GAS – SAME AS THE SPECULATORS IN THE MORTGAGE MARKETS

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1933803520080619

More proof; Wall Street is its’ own separate nation, unconcerned with the good of the United States; Street lobby working furiously to head off any regulation or oversight of oil speculation:

“…..In a pair of lengthy and sometimes testy closed-door sessions in the Senate last week, executives from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, two of Wall Street’s largest investment banks, made the case that their multibillion-dollar investments in energy contracts have not led to higher oil prices. Rather, they told Democratic staff members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the trades allow international markets to operate efficiently and that the run-up in oil prices results not from speculation but from actual imbalances of supply and demand. …..”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25253877/

GAS PRICES – THE FACTS!!!

– Republicans and Democrats have a fundamentally different approach to tackling high gas prices

– Republicans offer the same old tired slogans that they have touted throughout the Bush years and that haven’t done anything to combat the increase in gas prices

– More Drilling: Domestic drilling has not led to lower prices. Since 2000, drilling has increased dramatically – climbing about 66 percent– while gas prices continue to increase. and gas companies have shown that they cannot keep pace with the rate of drilling permits that the federal government is handing out – over the past 4 years they have received and are sitting on nearly 10,000 permits that they aren’t using to increase domestic production. Since 1999, drilling permits for oil and gas development on public lands increased more than 361 percent.

– OCS: The vast majority of federal oil and gas resources located on the OCS are already open for development – of all the oil and gas believed to exist on the OCS, nearly 80% of oil and 82% of natural gas is located in areas already open for leasing. In 2006, the federal government opened 8.3 million new acres in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, yet gasoline prices have increased by $1.69 per gallon. Only 10.5 million of the 44 million leased offshore acres are actually producing oil or gas.

– Open ANWR: EIA estimates that if we open ANWR today, twenty years down the road, at peak production, gas prices would be lowered at the maximum by $1.44 per barrel, which translates to only a few cents a gallon. Increased conservation and the use of alternative technologies in the last three years have cut the projected need for imported oil between now and 2050 by more than 100 billion barrels (EIA) – ten times more benefit than what we might be able to get a decade from now from ANWR.

– More Refineries: We have excess refining capacity. Last week, our refineries were running at 89% capacity – well below the 95-98% capacity use rates we’ve seen this time of year for the last decade. Republicans argue that environmental regulations are preventing new refineries from being built in the U.S. From 1975 to 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received only one permit request for a new refinery, which was approved. In addition, oil companies are regularly applying for – and receiving – permits to modify and expand their existing refineries.

– Democrats are being aggressive today to lower prices and reduce dependence on foreign oil while thinking ahead to tomorrow

– Working to Address Rising Gas Prices

– Enacted legislation to increase oil supply by temporarily suspending the fill of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the nation’s crude oil stockpile. (H.R. 6022)

– Gave the FTC new authority to crack down on those manipulating wholesale energy markets to keep prices high in the Energy Independence and Security Act (H.R. 6)

– Approved the Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act (H.R. 6074) to hold the OPEC monopoly accountable for price fixing that flouts the free market and artificially drives up the cost of crude oil.

– Passed the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act (H.R. 1252) to investigate price gouging by retailers who may be using the cover of high prices to unfairly inflate their rates even further.

– Investing in a Sustainable, Energy Independent America

– Enacted the landmark Energy Independence and Security Act (H.R. 6) that raised vehicle fuel efficiency for the first time in 32 years and increased the renewable fuels standard.

– Passed the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Act (H.R. 5351) to end unnecessary subsidies to oil companies making record profits and invest in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

– Approved the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act (H.R. 6049) to renew and expand tax incentives for renewable energy.

– Passed the Food and Energy Security Act (H.R. 2419) that promotes the development of biofuels, including those from non-corn sources.

– We are continuing to talk with Committees about further possible action.

FLASHBACK – THE ENRON SCAM

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html…agewanted=print

DARK MARKETS

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/17/…in4188620.shtml

Perhaps 60% of Oil prices are driven by speculation

http://www.financialsense.com/editorials/e…/2008/0502.html

ICE ICE BABY – PART ONE

http://www.star-telegram.com/104/story/651928.html

ICE ICE BABY – PART TWO

http://www.star-telegram.com/ed_wallace/story/659081.html

THE HOUSING BUBBLE WAS CAUSED THE SAME WAY!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte…8061401479.html

Housing rescue bill could be slowed by Republicans

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hTPEQZy…6Lz3mgD91CP8SO0

Now banks need bankruptcy protections!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte…8061803225.html

Even as two former Bear Stearns managers DO THE PERP WALK

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1933803520080619

ECONOMY

Deciding between food or gas? The winners in our global wealth redistribution these past 8 years are enjoying $200 hamburgers.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/18/…in4193240.shtml

The futility of ‘Drill Now. Save Money’; Time outlines a timeline

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/…1815884,00.html

“…… even if tomorrow we opened up every square mile of the outer Continental Shelf to offshore rigs, even if we drilled the entire state of Alaska and pulled new refineries out of thin air, the impact on gas prices would be minimal and delayed at best. A 2004 study by the government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that drilling in ANWR would trim the price of gas by 3.5 cents a gallon by 2027….”

Fine! More offshore drilling. THERE ISNT EVEN ENOUGH SHIPS TO GET THE DAMN OIL!

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/business/19drillship.html

Financial Aid for Teachers, Students

By Alan Haskvitz

http://www.reacheverychild.com/alan.html

There are a variety of sites that offer information about scholarships, grants, and other financial data to help pay for educational related expenses. Because of the numerous sites and the fluctuating requirements it is best to start with the larger ones first before going to the more specific ones. I have tried to list the two major categories here. Regardless, this is one of the largest collections on the Internet, if not the largest, thanks to the Horace Mann Companies.

Horace Mann scholarship

Open to all educators

https://www.horacemann.com/edscholarship/

A huge site

http://www.finaid.org/otheraid/

Large link site

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/grants_07.html

Grants, scholarships, and awards

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/grants.html

Awards

http://www.reacheverychild.com/scholarships/awards/index.html

Funding Directories

http://www.reacheverychild.com/scholarships/funding/directories.html

US Government Aid Sites

http://www.ed.gov/finaid/landing.jhtml

http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/

http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/funding.jsp

Scholarships

http://www.reacheverychild.com/scholarships/scholarships/index.html

Free government guide

You can order this without charge or download it.

http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/student_guide/index.html

American Federation of Teachers Listings

Includes debt forgiveness and local scholarships, too

http://www.aft.org/teachers/jft/loanforgiveness.htm

Yahoo listing

http://dir.yahoo.com/Education/Financial_Aid/Grants/

University fellowships

http://www.reacheverychild.com/fellowship/index.html

A guide to applying for college

http://www.reacheverychild.com/current/college/index.html

Non-profit organizations

http://www.reacheverychild.com/scholarships/funding/non-profit.html

Technology grants

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/tech_day.html#4

Financial Aid Officer

A very vast site

http://www.financialaidofficer.com/

Funding by location, type

http://www.reacheverychild.com/scholarships/funding/index.html

Scholarships by category

http://www.free-4u.com/

Federal Employee related aid sites

http://www.feea.org/

A must read article on college scholarship scams

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/070803/3loanscams.htm

Teacher loan forgiveness explanation

http://education.yahoo.com/college/financial_aid/articles/teacher_loan_forgiveness.html

These are college scholarship sites. There may be a cost so beware.

http://www.college-scholarships.com/

College Net

http://www.collegenet.com/about/index_html

Peterson’s

http://www.petersons.com/finaid/file.asp?id=806&sponsor=1&path=ug.pfs.scholarships

Scholarship Page

http://www.scholarship-page.com/search.shtml

Grad Loans

http://www.gradloans.com/

Sallie May Loan Information

http://www.salliemae.com/

Nellie May

http://www.nelliemae.com/

Student loan finder

http://www.estudentloan.com/

Scholarship Finder

http://www.fastweb.com/

Ron Brown Scholarship

http://www.ronbrown.org/

Hispanic Scholarship

http://www.hsf.net/

International Forestry Grants

http://www.fs.fed.us/people/gf/gf00.htm

Financial Aid to study in Japan

This is an example of how specific your search needs to be to find financing for your interests and the great many possibilities.

http://www.colorado.edu/ealc/atj/Bridging/ABRD-finaid.html

Simple and successful school fundraisers

by Alan Haskvitz

http://www.reacheverychild.com

It isn’t a secret—schools always need additional funding for activities. What isn’t well known is how to raise funds without stepping on the toes of community businesses, taking away from class time, and tying-up human resources best used elsewhere.
With that in mind, I have found some exceptional fundraisers. Remember the keys to a good fundraiser are: good bookkeeping, motivation and thank yous. And if you can get something inexpensively and sell it for more, you are champion fundraisers.

My favorite fundraiser is the No Bake Sale – Bake Sale. It is easy, all profit, and the parents appreciate it. First, create a list of baked goods and complete cards with the item names and prices, for example, “Carrot Cake, $5.” The parent selects this baked item NOT to make and sends $5 instead. You respond with a note thanking them for the carrot cake. Offer a variety of baked goods from “First Marriage Wedding Cakes” to “Crestfallen Angel Food Cake.” The students can name the items and research how much they would cost to make, so it is educational as well.

Send the list home and have parents decide what not to make. You can also send the list to others in the community. Obviously, it is all pure profit and pure fun, especially the “Oops I Burned the Turnovers” which usually go for $10 and the $15 pan of “Brown Knees.”

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/fundraisers.html

Teacher Salaries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

After five or more years of university, a well-paid position as a teacher is deserved. With this in mind, Reach Every Child has assembled the most current information concerning salaries, cost of living, and jobs available. However, due to the time it takes to collect and publish such data, most of these figures are at least three years old. Thus it is best to use this information as a starting point.

You should note the states with the highest teacher pay also have the highest cost of living. Regardless of where you work, with rising living costs, it is also a good idea to begin retirement planning. And this might be a good place to start: Horace Mann

The following sites deal with the latest teacher salary information, where to find jobs, scholarships, grants and a cost-of-living comparison by state. I have placed the rest of the information on this site:

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/salaries.html

It contains the following topics: Cost of living by state, education job scales, teachers pay in other countries, elementary teacher job pay, pay by state, taxes by state, salary trends and more. All free.
 
Help for Your Educational Job Search


Locate Grants, Scholarships and Awards 

Grant sites and teacher scholarship opportunities
 
Send in the Clowns
Just in case you need some relief, here a site with education humor.
Share Your Profession 
Teacher appreciation, news and grant sites
Actual Average Beginning Teacher Salaries (2003)
 

Are you an average teacher?

Buick LaCrosse

by The Car Family

For more reviews go to

http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

 Buick has made a better, ah, Buick. Nothing more, and nothing less. If you like Buicks, this is the best one. If you don’t like them this model isn’t going to get many consumers to leave their Toyotas, Fords, and Chryslers unless they appreciate its understated looks and familiar accommodations.

The good news is that there aren’t many flaws with this car. However, it isn’t going to create much envy with the competition for three main reasons. First, the engine is not fuel efficient despite its ratings. If you get 20 mpg you are probably doing well. Secondly, the room in the backseat both in terms of legroom and headroom are not generous. Finally, the lack of some features that we feel should be standard such as side airbags, are extra cost options.

Buick is a big seller for General Motors and it now firmly holds the ground between the Cadillac and the Pontiac. It does so resolutely with a fine record of build quality and customer service. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Buick model line has not resonated well with the younger buyers. Indeed, the average Buick owner is well past 65-years-old. Thus the LaCrosse has being designed to appeal to younger buyers and it just may with a sportier feel and energetic engine. Perhaps what might most make it most attractive to the youthful customer are a streamlined roofline and more shapely shape. Unfortunately, that makes maneuvering in and out of the front seats an exercise that requires a supple body, as you have to lower your body and duck your head at the same time. It is not a difficult move to master, but it definitely is not for those who are not flexible. For them we recommend our favorite Buick, the Park Avenue or, if you need even better value, the Rendezvous van.

Buick has made the LaCrosse in three trim levels, the CX, the more sporty CXS, and the luxury oriented CXL.  The CX is the price leader and comes with the 200-horsepower, 3.8-liter (3800) V6, a power driver’s seat, a stereo/CD, and OnStar. If you upgrade to the CXL you find yourself sitting on leather, looking at a more luxurious trim level, and riding on alloy wheels. The CXS offers Buick’s new 3.6 liter V6 that produces 240 horsepower and is definitely more youthful in ride quality. It has a bigger set of wheels and sportier suspension. For those who dread the thought of getting into a frigid car in winter, Buick adds an interesting option in the form of a remote starter. All you need to do is point it at the frost covered LaCrosse and it jumps to life with its very fast acting heater and defroster preparing the interior for your highness’s entry. There is even a good- sized cupholder for the required early morning coffee cup.

Mom’s view: I am always interested in anything new from Buick since it has an outstanding reputation for build quality, resale (http://www.nada.com) and reliability. So when the all-new LaCrosse was announced we pounced on the opportunity to test it out. It is certainly a better Buick, but whether it has enough going for it to capture sales from the competition is uncertain.

Someone at Buick should find out a way to shut the trunk lid without getting his or her hands dirty. There is no handle. In addition, when you use the remote to unlock the rear deck lid it does not pop open high enough. I also found the glare from the chrome strip that runs the width of the dash annoying as it is reflected in the side window where you constantly see it when checking the mirror. There is more that I found needed to be explained by Buick designers. The combination of small side view mirrors, and large doorframes create blind spot on both sides of car. The seats have a manual rake

adjustment, although the fore and aft controls are electrical, and the lever is awkward to reach, as it is located far back on the side of the bottom cushion. I also have no idea whose idea it was to make the interior trunk release so bothersome. You have to have the car in park and depress the door lock for a couple of seconds to open the trunk lid. This caused me much angst at the airport where I was cited by the police for blocking the pick-up lane since I had the car in park in a no stopping zone. Yes, I am fighting the ticket.

Getting in and out of the front seats wasn’t as easy as it was on one of my favorites, the Buick Park Avenue. The A pillar cuts into the entry space. Once inside the layout is clearly not cutting edge, but old world in appearance. You can order three across front seat seating so the LaCrosse can carry six, but it would be tight. The plastic wood trim is not badly done but it is so dark and brooding that it looks out of place with the gray interior of the test car.

The instruments were easy to read, but I had a major complaint about the windshield wipers. It rained a great deal on our test and even at the highest speed they could not keep up with heavy rainfall. I am not talking about torrential, just above average, and it struggled.

My greatest disappointment with the LaCrosse was its poor gas mileage. On a trip with the family onboard and the cruise control set at 75 through the desert we averaged less than 20 mpg. This same trip with the more expensive Toyota Avalon saw 27 mpg.  The new V6 engine in our test vehicle has ample scamper power, but I never felt its 240 horsepower was as enjoyable as the old 3.8 with the optional supercharger providing the poke.

Safety wise the Buick had front dual-stage airbags and OnStar. The problem for me was that unless you order the more expensive CXS model the ABS is an option and even on that model stability control system extra, as are full-length side curtain airbags and a reverse-sensing system. I would like to see all these types of safety features as standard equipment on a passenger vehicle. If family genes are indication though, this should be a very safe vehicle as its sister, the Buick LeSabre, was listed as one of the safest cars of all time.

The driver’s information center came with current weather, gas consumption, fuel range, and time on the road readouts that we were easy to understand. I was surprised to see a steering wheel that both tilted and telescoped and I liked the size of the wheel and how it felt. Other items I liked about the LaCrosse were the OnStar, the ease of which you could change the stereo controls and cruise control features. The heater was superior and the heated seats had two settings. Satellite radio is also available and highly recommended if you travel a great deal.

On the road I noticed that the rear view mirrors needed to be slightly larger to improve side visibility and that the ride of the car was quite solid and, should I say, a little BMWish in feel. The engine was strong in this front wheel drive model, but I didn’t notice any torque steer. The transmission works well, although I would have liked to see an overdrive gear to get that gas mileage where it belongs on long trips.

Overall, for the price of nearly $34,000 (US) I felt like the LaCrosse should provide me with a more exceptional interior and exterior appearance. I am a fan of the understated look, but for that type of money I would like a little more bling.

Dad’s view: The real news here is the double-overhead-cam 3.6 aluminum V-6 with variable valve timing that creates 240 hp and 225 lbs. ft. of torque nearly everywhere along it rev range above 3000 rpm. It is quiet, has good pick-up, and appears ready to take its place under the hoods of the new Buick line-up. However, as all The Car Family stated, the gas mileage wasn’t very good.

I was frankly surprised at the handling the LaCrosse provided. This Buick uses an electric Magnasteer system for its power steering that provided fairly good feedback and is easily the most responsive vehicle in the Buick line-up as it takes the steering angle and vehicle speed into account before adjusting the power assist. A fully independent suspension with front strut and a rear tri-link suspension give it a well-dampened effect, but nothing Buick owners would find objectionable. The ride is fairly quiet and the aluminum engine cradle helps keep the weight down to 3500 pounds. You can tow 1000 pounds, according to Buick.

The gas throttle has an electronic control that takes a while to get used to, as it tends to respond to initial inputs more dramatically than other Buicks. The acceleration is good to 60 mph, look for a time around eight seconds, and it has enough energy to easily conquer hills with a full family onboard. The four speed automatic transmission is an excellent unit, but it does need that extra fifth gear to enable the engine to loaf more at speed and increase fuel mileage.

Clearly, the LaCrosse is a step in the right direction for Buick and should quickly make aficionados forget the Century and the LaSabre.

Young working woman’s view: This is clearly a Buick in both looks and treatments. Buick has improved the silence in the interior with its “Quiet Tuning.”  This was accomplished by using more sound-deadening materials and a special Sandwich-construction steel panels that is said to reduce noise, and thicker carpeting. It works, but don’t do a back-to-back drive with a Toyota Avalon or you are going to be disappointed.  The interior look is an acquired taste, but there is nothing that would detract a potential buyer except for the dreaded chrome strip alluded to by my mother. It is not only a distraction, but out of place in this understated vehicle.

Driving the LaCrosse is quite easy. It responds well, gives you enough road feel, and the car has more than enough speed. The brakes are reassuring with little dive under emergency stopping. I found it easy to park and roomy inside. It would not be my first choice, but owning this Buick owning one would not be embarrassing either and I think that is a credit for Buick in its quest to reach the younger buying demographic.

Young working male’s view: My singing career is starting to bud. Just sold 200 CDs to Finland. Who says the Europeans don’t know good tunes. Anyway, this Buick is just not in my field of vision and so I give my time to my Grandfather.

Grandfather’s, not working and not interesting in working view: Didn’t like it. Looked like a new old car. There wasn’t enough room in back and getting in and out of the front seats had me holding on to the top of the car so I wouldn’t hit my head. It wasn’t all that quiet inside compared to the Toyota Avalon we just tested, but it was cheaper. You get what you pay for. I expect you read that before. The trunk lid was hard for me to close. My hand kept slipping off the freshly waxed paint and there wasn’t any other place to grab it. I liked the Park Avenue much better. It even looked slinkier.

I really enjoyed the XM Satellite radio. I was singing along to all the top bands from the 30’s and 40’s much to the chagrin of my protégé, Mr. Simple Thoughts. Sort of interesting that I learned electronics by building a crystal radio set and now you get hundreds of stations without any static. Just pay the money. Being a veteran of these tests, this is my second thanks to my hip-hop rapping grandson, I prefer the Sirius satellite offerings more.

Since I have owned a number of Buicks in the past, can you say Roadmaster, I think that this one is quite good for the younger folks. I just felt out of place in it. Maybe progress isn’t what I thought it would be.

Family conference:  Although we liked the more expensive CXS with its many extra features, we encourage you to look at the less expensive CXS model with it proven 200-horsepower, 3.8-liter (3800) V6 that meets the stringent Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) standards if you don’t mind the floaty ride. However, if you want the well-optioned CXS prepare to see a sticker price of $33,750 (US) for the heated seats, traction control, side-curtain airbags and XM satellite radio. Either way you get a much-improved Buick, but be prepared to battle that chrome strip reflection and learn to duck your head. For all manufacture websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/auto/index.html

2007 Honda Civic Sedan Review

For More reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

For free educational materials go to http://www.reacheverychild.com

With starting prices ranging from below $14,000 to above $20,000 (US) the new Honda Civic has reasserted itself at the head of the class with exceptional fuel mileage, ride, braking, and literally in your face instrumentation.

Mom’s view: Despite its Toyota Prius like profile, the Civic is a much better vehicle than previous models. The interior is very iPodish with boldly colored gauges and a digital speedometer that can’t be ignored tucked just below the very steeply racked windshield. The automatic transmission dulls the reaction of the 140-hp engine, but still provides excellent economy seldom going below 30 mpg. We averaged about 34 in mixed driving. The 60/40 fold down rear seats of our EX test car expanded the trunk space, but there wasn’t as much room as the Toyota Prius. Honda did the right thing by providing standard side curtain airbags and ABS which are reassuring in smaller vehicles. You can even order a hotrod Si coupe with a 197 horsepower engine if you want to tempt the highway gods. Overall, I liked the Civic, but would go with the standard transmission.

Dad’s view: Larger, more powerful, more expensive, and more refined, the Civic sedan easily is the best in this segment at this moment. The four-cylinder engine with either the 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic work well together.

Honda Civic video review

However, the engine gets quite loud when acceleration demands are accentuated. Other than that this is a fairly quiet ride. Braking and steering are exceptional for the price. Overall a marked improvement with room for four and hybrid like fuel mileage, but not a speed merchant.

Young working woman’s view: There is actually room for two adults in the back seat. The seating in front is very good, with everything easy to use, even the emergency brake located under the stereo. By the way, if you get the GPS option be prepared to use the steering wheel ancillary gauges because the heating controls seem to always be in the way. The digital gauges are brightly lighted blue with white and red lettering at all times. It definitely keeps you awake. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes and has a good feel. It takes a while to get used to the speedometer’s placement, but it is much appreciated for us leadfoots. Storage areas are most everywhere, but those in the back don’t get cupholders. The remote opens the trunk just enough to get your hand under it and the cargo area is adequate, but the hinges and smallish pass through into the rear seats makes loading large objects a trial and error process.

College going male’s view: Pay the extra and get the EX rather than the bargain priced DX or LX. You get alloy wheels, a moonroof, the split rear folding seatbacks, two extra speakers, steering wheel controls, and jack for plugging in your downloaded music players, hopefully filled with my CD at www.simple-thoughts.net, and most everything else. The upgraded stereo isn’t too bad, the radio reception above average, and the whole package is tight.

Family conference: A new Civic that is worthy of your attention, but don’t overlook the competition form Mazda and new Volkswagen. Best of all, don’t forget those superior crash test scores and the available hotrod Si version. Also available as a hybrid, coupe, and sports coupe. Bottom line: The best Honda ever for the price. For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheveychild.com and click on business.

2007 Honda Civic Hybrid Review: Highway Friendly

By The Car Family

For more automobile reviews go to

http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

For free educational links and lessons go to http://www.reacheverychild.com

You don’t buy a Honda Hybrid to save money, you buy it because it makes you feel good about doing your part to make the world a better place. To this end, it works. The Hybrid is nearly as joyful to drive as a regular Civic with good performance, a roomy interior, and gas mileage that is consistently in the 40-mpg range or better. The bad news is that it does not handle like a regular Civic because of its heavy battery pack and gas mileage oriented tires. So, in essence, this is a delightful commuter car and a bargain at about $22.000.

Price wise, the Hybrid runs a few thousand dollars more than a comparably equipped Civic. For the additional funding you get a lot of technology and some pride of ownership. However, even with gas at record high levels and the Hybrid returning about 30 percent better fuel mileage in daily driving, it would take several years to save the extra cost of the Hybrid. And, just as you would be narrowing the difference, the Hybrid’s battery pack would have to be replaced at a cost of several thousand dollars. On the other hand, if you justified your car buying decision only on costs everyone would be driving a sub-compact vehicle. A car has got to make you feel good to own it and the Hybrid does just that.The major competition for the Hybrid is the Toyota Prius The Toyota car had been redone for 2004 and offered significant improvements over the excellent first version that debuted a few years ago. Currently, the difference in the new Prius and the Hybrid is in the ride, quietness, interior space, and appointments. Overall, the Honda is sportier, but not too sporty, and is less visible. In fact, when we went to a crowded mall we could not find our Hybrid because it blended in so well with all the other Civics. We had to use the remote and look and listen. We felt like a mother lion who was searching for her cub.

Mom’s view: I didn’t mind it at all, except for the gauges which were too small and too difficult to read with their bright and trendy colors. I also found that the air conditioning was hard pressed to cool the interior in our 105-degree test days. I would have the windows tinted immediately. Otherwise, this is a handy car.In smaller cars, safety is always one of my concerns. This is especially true as large SUVs with phone using drivers have been known to overlook vehicles that don’t ride as high as they do. To help alleviate any fears Honda provides dual-stage front airbags, front side airbags, stability control, ABS brakes, and dual-side impact door beams. It does need a louder horn.

Overall, this is a pleasant vehicle with enough snap to make it capable of blending in on crowded highways and an interior that is acceptable, if not a bit youthful for my taste. Would I want one for my daily driver? Yes, and no. Although I obviously love the gas mileage and size of the Hybrid, I find the fact that you have to sacrifice the fold down rear seat to accommodate the battery pack frustrating at times when I have a long item to carry. I also find the gauges difficult to quickly read and nearly impossible to comprehend while wearing sunglasses. Other than that this is would be a great value and a treat for the environment.

Dad’s view: No, this car does not have to be plugged in and, no, this car does not just run on batteries. It runs on a combination of a gasoline engine and batteries and it does this very well. The news here is the engine and motor that combine to power the Hybrid with such efficiency.The Hybrid’s 1.3-liter 4-cylinder gasoline 93 horsepower engine has been highly modified with special ignition, lean burn combustion, two spark plugs per cylinder, and variable value controls. The engine also has low-friction pistons, thin-sleeve cylinder walls, lightweight intake manifold and meets Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle requirements. Can you say clean, and you still get plenty of low speed grunt with 116 foot-pounds of coming online at a low 1500 rpm.

Assisting the engine is a 10 kilowatts electric motor that utilizes nickel-metal-hydride batteries that are recharged by the gas engine as well as by deceleration and braking. Thus you don’t plug this car in to an outlet. The batteries take up space that is hardly missed, but it does require the elimination of that very popular rear-seat fold down feature available on other Civics. The electric motor is brushless and silent and gives you about between 15 and 30hp of electric boost at high speeds, and is capable of providing all the drive energy necessary in slow, bumper-to-bumper traffic. Honda calls this the Integrated Motor Assist. The electric motor sits between the engine and transmission and together they operate nearly seamlessly.

You can order a five-speed manual or the continuously variable automatic transmission version that we evaluated. Either way, in real life you get about 42 miles per gallon on the highway with the air-conditioning working. On a cool day at posted limits you can count on a ten percent higher figure with a family onboard.One element I found disconcerting was the fact that the Hybrid automatically turns off its engine when you are stopped and have your foot on the brake pedal. This does not stop the air-conditioning and stereo from continuing to work without pause. The problem is that once you release your foot from the brake pedal the car immediately starts and gives a slight tug. This is barely a fault, but it is more noticeable than I found while driving the competition’s Toyota Prius.

The Civic accelerates fairly well, but if you are going at a brisk pace don’t expect much of a boast when you ask the Honda for more power. It is set-up more for cruising. It definitely is not set up for canyon runs. In addition, if you are going uphill at speed with the air on the batteries can be exhausted and you must rely on the gas engine only. This can slow you. This Honda is not at its best in the mountains. Besides, the gas mileage oriented tires don’t appreciate having their sidewalls tested and the steering is slow to react to tight corners. Let’s be honest, here, Hybrid is a couple of hundreds pounds heavier than other Civics and simply not aimed for the sports car crowd. But, since gas prices are now at record highs, I feel that some those lead footed drivers would welcome the 600 miles or more range of the Hybrid.

Besides all the technological extras under the hood, Honda also provides a firmer suspension, larger brakes, clear tail lamps, a small spoiler, 15-inch lightweight alloy wheels, automatic climate control air conditioning, air filtration system, cruise control, power steering, tilt steering wheel, power mirrors, windows and door locks, and an AM/FM/CD system. In other words, the Hybrid is a bargain.

Driving the Hybrid is relaxing and makes it easy for you to forget that you are in an economy car. The sound level is reasonable, the performance adequate, and there is enough room to get comfortable. If you are a smooth driver this is a nice ride. If you are into cut and thrust driving, find it difficult to spend more than a few seconds behind any other vehicle, or display your ego with your exhaust tips, this isn’t your gas sipper.

College going male’s view: I didn’t mind the Hybrid one bit. To me, driving an “alternative” powered vehicle says I care and one of these should be in every high school and professional driver training program in the United States. Let people know that driving green machines is not an ordeal and plenty cool. On the down side was the radio reception. You would think that with a high masted antenna stuck in the middle of the roof you would be able to pull in some long distance stations, but it was not to be. The rear seat has a fair amount of room. The seats need a lumbar support badly. You buy this car to spend long hours in and the front seats just aren’t all that comfortable.Family conference: It is easy to decide if you want the Honda Hybrid or its competition, the Prius, by looking at your annual fuel bill and donation list. If you support environmental organizations these are must have cars. If you would like to save between ten and twenty percent on your gas bill, these cars are naturals. On the other hand, they cost more to service, don’t handle as well as sportier models, and have an uncertain resale history to draw from. If you are undecided, Ford promises a hybrid powered Escape shortly and several other manufacturers are coming online with their alternative powered vehicles so you may want to wait a few months. Regardless, you need to test drive this Honda to see what the future is bringing.

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