Honda Civic Hybrid is a good hybrid car alternative for those who want a traditional looking sedan that seats 5. This front-wheel drive compact saves fuel at 42 mpg. At 4.4 annual tons of CO2e, this hybrid emits actually emits less greenhouse gases than its CNG cousin. The Honda Civic Hybrid is #2 on our list of Top 10 Hybrids for 2010.
After driving our 2002 Toyota Prius for six years, my 85-year old mother gave us her 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid. The Honda has been a trouble-free pleasure to drive. Lacking the Toyota Synergy hybrid drive, the Honda does not deliver the fuel economy of our 2002 Prius and delivers 20 percent less miles per gallon than the 2010 Prius. For people who want a conventional 4-door sedan, not the “funny looking” Prius hatchback, the Honda Civic Hybrid is a good choice.
Mileage & Carbon Footprint
- 42 miles per gallon (mpg) overall
- 45 mpg highway
- 40 mpg city
- 4.4 tons CO2e carbon emissions per year
- $24,000 starting
- $27,000 with premium interior including leather seats
Green Hybrid Drive System
IMA® couples a 1.3-liter, 8-valve i-VTEC® 4-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor. Although the engine alone provides sufficient driving performance, when additional power is required, a permanent-magnet electric motor mounted between the engine and transmission provides power assist. The drive system operates in one of four modes:
1. Engine off. This is when the vehicle is stationary, the engine is often automatically turned off. The battery powers accessories such as air conditioning.
2. Low-speed valve timing (LO-VT). The Civic applies this mode for startup and acceleration with motor assist, and with engine-only operation for high-speed cruising and gentle acceleration at higher speeds.
3. High-speed valve timing (HI-VT). This mode is for rapid acceleration at higher speeds, and has the engine operating in high-speed valve timing mode with motor assist.
4. Cylinder Idle. The valves of all four engine cylinders are closed and combustion halted. The electric motor alone powers the vehicle. This mode is used during deceleration when the electric motor acts as a generator and stores energy in the 158 volt NiMH battery. Cylinder Idle also saves gas in stop-and-go traffic, running the Civic only on the electric motor.
The Civic Hybrid is equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Similar to an automatic transmission, CVT is an advanced transmission that substitutes the gears found in more traditional transmissions and replaces them with a metal push-belt running between a pair of variable-width pulleys. Combined with the Drive-by-Wire™ throttle system, the CVT constantly adjusts to provide the most efficient drive ratio possible to provide better fuel efficiency and acceleration than a conventional transmission.
The car is roomy with 4 people; tight with 5. To get 3 in the back seat, it helps if they are all distance runners, or the one in the middle is a child. The car has 91 cubic feet of interior space. The trunk space is OK with 10 cubic feet. The back seat cannot be lowered to expand cargo.
The NHTSA gives the Honda Civic its highest 5-star rating for driver and front passenger safety, and 4-star for rollover safety and 4-star for side collision safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards a Top Safety Pick for the 2010 Honda Civic 4-door: good performance in front, side, rollover, and rear tests. The Civic handles well, offers plenty of airbags, electronic stability control, and even alerts you if your tire pressure is low.
Honda is intent staying in first place for overall fleet fuel economy. Honda is likely to expand the hybrid drive system to more models; possibly the Fit in a couple of years. Honda sees a future of all electric drive systems with the range extended by a hydrogen fuel cell. Twenty early customers now lease for $600 per month the Honda FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. The FCX Clarity may be five years away from significant commercial production. My test drive of the FCX Clarity demonstrated its quiet ride, smooth handling, and fast acceleration in an electric vehicle that is bigger than the Civic, yet has a 240 mile range.
Other Cars to Investigate
Toyota Prius continues to deliver about 20 percent better mileage than the Honda Civic Hybrid. You can seat up to five, or drop the back seat and carry lots of business stuff, extras for a vacation, or bicycles and snow boards.
Honda Insight may save you at least $2,000 over the Civic Hybrid. It is also a 5-seat hatchback with an aerodynamic design similar to the Prius. The Insight only gets 41 mpg; very close to the Civic Hybrid 42 mpg.
Ford Fusion Hybrid is a smooth riding traditional 4-door midsized sedan that is made in America. Expect to pay about $4,000 more than the Honda Civic Hybrid for more room and some upscale options.
Honda Fit is a popular Sport Wagon for Honda lovers who cannot afford a hybrid. It can be $8,000 less than the Honda Civic Hybrid, but your savings will diminish over time due to less mileage. The Fit only gets 29 mpg compared to 42 for the Civic Hybrid. The Fit has about as much interior space as the Civic, but you can lower the back seat for more cargo space.