moTi - 4:07 am on Jan 5, 2013 (gmt 0)
aha! now we have it! upon further fiddling i discovered the culprit for the strange behavior: it's the auto-fit function in the settings which is unfortunately on by default.
settings > advanced > auto-fit pages - format webpages to fit the screen
the text wraps in normal mode at the same point where it wraps in zoom mode. if you untick it, you get normal expected text wrapping. i'd definitely call it a bug rather than a feature, since the android stock browser is the only browser which causes this strange behavior and it breaks standard html and css on validated web pages. what a bummer.
same issue on stackoverflow:
google for "android autofit mode causing issues with css width in web page"