Honda Civic hybrid

Saturday 20 September 2008

I’ve just bought a new car: a Honda Civic hybrid. I don’t buy cars that often. The car I just replaced was a 1994 Civic. To keep the same pace, I’ll add an entry to my calendar for 2022 to buy my next car.

I like the Civic for its gas mileage, 45 mpg highway. The extra expense over a non-hybrid Civic is actually more than I’ll save on gas over the life of the car, but I like being the change I want to see in the world.

One thing that surprised me about this car is how familiar it felt after having driven a 1994 Civic. Lots of extra bells and whistles that I’d gotten used to in my wife’s larger cars are still absent in this car.

Features in the hybrid I didn’t have in my 1994 Civic (other than the hybrid engine):

  • A temperature setting in the climate control
  • Front seat map lights
  • A chime to alert me that I’ve left my headlights on
  • An auxilliary jack for the stereo
  • Electronic dashboard with thermometer, etc

Things that work in the hybrid that used to work in the 1994 Civic, but no longer do:

  • Remote entry buttons
  • Reliable low-speed wipers
  • Rear left passenger door handle
  • Exhaust system. The last thing that failed on the 94 was the exhaust. For its last two days, it sounded like a four-door Harley.

Fancy features the Hybrid doesn’t have that my wife’s car does:

  • Motorized seat adjustments with memory
  • Heated seats
  • Lighted mirrors in visors
  • Fold-in side mirrors
  • Leather seats
  • Separate temperature settings for driver and passenger
  • Individual lights for rear passengers

I’m pleased to have a new car that just works, and especially one that does so well on gas.


Dan 9:20 PM on 20 Sep 2008

>A chime to alert me that I've left my headlights on

This is the single missing feature that annoyed me the MOST about the old Civics. How much could the chime have cost them to add? I ran down my battery more than once due to this omission. Glad to see they've fixed that. Enjoy the new car!

Keith 6:35 AM on 21 Sep 2008

Just a question. Shouldn't a newer non-hybrid Civic be getting 45MPG? I had a Toyota Corolla (not new) back in the early eighties, and it was getting over 30 MPG then(and the Civic is/was a comparable car), you would think they would be doing better than that now, wouldn't you?

Ned Batchelder 7:44 AM on 21 Sep 2008

The 2009 Civic sedan is rated at 36 mpg highway, which is about what I was getting with my '94. Not sure why there hasn't been more improvement over the last 15 years.

Nate 9:28 AM on 21 Sep 2008

Good for you, Ned. I totally understand about paying a little more to do the right thing for the world. When my fiance and I moved into the new apartment, we decided to take Belmont's option to pay about 25% extra on our electric bill so the electric company would get our electricity from renewable sources instead of a coal plant. Costs us $30 a month, but we're putting our money where our mouth is, and that's important to me.

Robert Kieffer 11:07 AM on 21 Sep 2008

'Course, for something completely different, there's always the Aptera.

I'm of mixed emotions about hybrid vehicles. Are they actually the right answer to the big-picture problems, or are they merely an opiate that let's us ignore the issues for a little while longer?

Assuming for the moment that we can make every vehicle on the road today (urr... actually, everywhere we use gasoline) 2-3x more efficient, than we are still only back to 1970-1980's levels of gas consumption. It's a good start, but demand will continue to increase due to emerging markets like China and India. Meanwhile, we are close to the period of Peak Oil production, even by most optimistic estimates. So it's not at all clear to me that this results in any significant change.

I'm not an all-electric vehicle zealot by any means and, especially when the power for them comes from coal or oil power plants. Their biggest advantage would seem to be that they are highly adaptable in where the power for them comes from, be it nuclear, hydro/thermo-electric, solar, or wind. In a future where there looks to be a lot of chaos and uncertainty about where our nation will be getting it's power (read, "oil") from, this could prove to be tremendously important.

Robert Kieffer 11:20 AM on 21 Sep 2008

In other news, California's "DriveClean" program is giving a 9-out-of-10 rating to cars with mileage ratings comparable to that of the Model-T (25 mpg). WTF???

Speaking of which, I find it rather amusing that the Model-T was the first "Flex Fuel" vehicle. Amazing how far we've come in 100 years, eh? :-P

[Disclosure: My wife and I drive a combined ~15K miles/year in our two Honda Elements (23-25 MPG).]

sil 1:07 PM on 21 Sep 2008

Why not look at a diesel, if you're interested in mileage? Hybrids always seem to me to be horribly overrated, although god knows I'd buy a Tesla Roadster in a shot if my ship came in...

Bruce Perry 4:15 PM on 21 Sep 2008

Does the Civic hybrid have regenerative braking? Or is it mainly a battery assist for the gasoline engine?

Vitor Pereira 4:44 PM on 21 Sep 2008

@Bruce, yes it does have regenerative braking and yes it is a battery assist for the gasoline engine.

Jason 5:08 PM on 21 Sep 2008

What's the noise like? The only thing I don't like about my current Civic (a '98) is that it's really loud just idling. I'd love the same car but quiet enough to hear things outside while I'm driving. And mine has the headlight dinging, so your previous one must have been one of the last to not have it.

Bruce Perry 5:34 PM on 21 Sep 2008

@Victor, thanks. I wasn't finding that level of detail on the Honda site.

Ned Batchelder 5:59 PM on 21 Sep 2008

@Jason: the car is very quiet (especially compared to my '94 four-door Harley!). Since it's a hybrid, the engine shuts off at red lights, so it's *really* quiet then. It took a couple of stops for me to stop reaching for the key to restart the engine after the "stall"...

Charles Merriam 6:56 AM on 22 Sep 2008

Just an FYI, the drop in gas mileage of equivalent technology over time is due the increasing safety standards.

Once we just drove cars. Then we got V-6's and V-8's. Then we got seat belts. Then we got SUVs. And Passenger Airbags. And Cell phones. And crumple zones.....

Death rate is still 40K/yr US. Hovers at 42 +/- 10%

Philipp von Weitershausen 7:27 AM on 22 Sep 2008

The power-to-consumption ratio of engines have actually continuously increased in the past decades, but we've made our *cars* so much heavier. It's a good thing that Ned's Civic doesn't have motorized seats, automatic fold-in mirrors and what have you because they would make the car much heavier, spoiling the 45 MGP gas mileage.

I say let's cut the crap out of cars again and you'll see gas mileage improve again. I can adjust my seat and open windows manually just fine and I bet that's what Keith did on his 80s Toyota Corolla, too. Also, you don't need a sedan or SUV that weighs 2000 pounds. Even if you're a soccer mom. My mom took my sisters and me to school in a VW Polo (the Golf's smaller brother) and I grew up just fine.

Btw, when it comes to shape, we're still far from building aerodynamic cars. The Audi A2 and the Toyota Prius are world leaders here (drag coefficients of 0.25 and 0.26, respectively) and when you look at them, you'll see why: they're much more shaped like a water drop than your average sedan or hatchback.

Robert Kieffer 8:12 AM on 22 Sep 2008

I would encourage everyone here to take a moment to familiarize themselves with the work of Amory Lovins by watching his TED presentation, ,"We must win the oil endgame". He punches all sorts of holes in the assumptions we make about the way the oil-economy works, including the argument about lower mileage being a necessary result of increased safety.

mikey 8:29 AM on 22 Sep 2008

Ned, congrats on the new ride.

I have 2000 Civic that regular gives me 36-37 MPG, but I am hanging on for the new Honda Insight.

Vitor Pereira 9:00 AM on 22 Sep 2008

@Mikey - It should be out next spring. And guys remember one thing, to get good fuel economy the most important part is the driver.

Shawn 11:11 AM on 22 Sep 2008

@sil - glad to see someone brought up the diesel. I have a 2003 VW Jetta Wagon that gets 42 MPG in heavy city traffic, 46 MPG when I'm gentle on the pedal and in the city less, and up to 50 MPG on long highway trips. In my area, diesel has tended to be more than even 93 octane, but it usually makes up for itself in better gas mileage.

I'd love to see a comparison of the pollution generated by a diesel (manufacturing and usage) vs. the same factors in a hybrid. I've seen a lot of talk about polution generated from the battery manufacturing process.

Slow 6:36 PM on 2 Dec 2008

I, too, have a brand new Civic. Before that, I had a 2007 Prius. I am the rare person who has owned both (the Prius was totaled while parked in front of my house).

One thing I have noticed on the Civic: when I am using cruise control on the interstate at highway speeds (65-70), the CVT runs the engine up to quite high rpms on hills -- like sometimes 4500 +. This is around Atlanta, so it's not like we are climbing the Alps. Anyone else experienced this?

The Prius did not do this.

Nancy 11:09 PM on 30 Dec 2008

have a Honda Civic Hybrid 2007. I have much difficulty driving in snow.
The car "floats" -- it is difficult to keep on the road. No one dares
drive over 45. Does anyone else have this problem? Any suggestions?

Nancy 1:48 PM on 11 Jan 2009

have a Honda Civic Hybrid 2007. I have much difficulty driving in snow.
The car "floats" -- it is difficult to keep on the road. No one dares
drive over 45. Does anyone else have this problem? Any suggestions?

mandi 8:11 PM on 19 Jan 2009

My 2007 civic hybrid, which i adore, is getting worse mpg performance. last summer i hit 50 mpg highway driving between cincinnati and pittsburgh; today, with a new tank of gas and the heat off, i was at 38 mpg. could it be the cold? my tire inflation? i would like to get the performance back to the excellence i have experienced in the past.

Vitor Pereira 1:15 PM on 21 Jan 2009

@Mandi - I usually get better mileage in the summer too, and that happens with any car not just hybrids. Tire pressure can have an impact on fuel economy but also on safety and tire ware, you should regularly check the pressure.

Phoenix 9:06 PM on 24 Aug 2010

One thing though, the Honda Civic Hood Molding suffers from susceptibility in Rust.

Same with my Honda Civic 2003 where I had to buy a new one at carstuff( my question is that does Honda provide additional information on the after-market parts by Replacement?

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