DETROIT – Red always gets attention and it wasn’t any different with the 2005 Honda Civic EX Special Edition.

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During a week-long test drive, everywhere I parked the Honda EX coupe, somebody, most times it was more than one passerby, would stop to get a look at the Rallye Red Coupe.

What made the Special Edition special was its premium audio system that included an in-dash six disc CC change, MP3 capability, and an auxiliary jack for plug in portable music devices including satellite radio receivers.

My test vehicle was truly for the young or the young at heart. The sound system, with its 13-band analyzer was kicking.

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The Special Edition package also included a leather wrapped steering wheel, exclusive 15-inch alloy wheels, a sizable body colored wing spoiler, and of course special edition badging. Just call the EX Special Edition a little jazzing up of what is a pretty good basic car.

My test vehicle was powered by 1.7-liter four cylinder engine that made 127 horsepower and 114 pounds-feet of torque. It was mated to four-speed automatic transmission. I found this power train more than adequate for a small car that weighed a little bit more than 2,600 pounds.

Acceleration was good, allowing me pass without too much of a problem on expressways here. However, the few times I really pressed on the gas, the engine, as will most four cylinders, revved loudly. Still, I never got the feeling that the car was underpowered.

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The ride was really good. More and more, I’ve been impressed with the ride and handling of today’s small cars. In the case of the Civic, it featured a MacPherson strut suspension in the front and a double wishbone setup in the rear. The car also had stabilizer bars fore and aft. They undoubtedly helped keep the car relatively flat in some aggressive turns I made.

I found the front-wheel drive Civic balanced. By that I mean I felt no torque steer during cornering. And tracking was dead center. Equipped with rack and pinion steering, the Civic EX Special edition responded rapidly to steering wheel input. Turns were precise and effortless.

Safety features included anti-lock brakes, remote entry system and dual stage air bags for both driver and passenger. Interior features included air condition, a 12-volt power outlet, cruise control and power windows and locks. My test vehicle was also equipped with a moonroof with tilt feature.

The Civic is a certified Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle and under normal conditions, Honda said that it needs no scheduled tune-up for the first 110,000 miles.

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And in these times of two-dollar-per-gallon gasoline, I think it important to note that the Civic had a 31 mpg rating for the city and 39 mpg rating for the highway. It had a miserly estimated annual fuel cost of $794. However, it didn’t say at what price per gallon the estimate was made.

The Civic is a small car and with doors it wasn’t all that easy getting into the back seats. The front passenger seat automatically slid forward to make it easier getting in the back but that was not the case for the driver’s seat. Once in the back seat, leg room was okay but head room was snug. Still, the rear seat space was surprisingly spacious – for a compact car.

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I found the Honda Civic EX Special Edition to be a very capable utilitarian sporty little car aimed at the young and single. And with a sticker of $18,875, it was very affordable.