Monday, August 2, 2010

2009 Honda Civic Hybrid: Review

After 16+ months of driving our 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid I think I've spent enough time behind the wheel to finally write a review. Overall, I'm very happy with our decision, but there are a couple things I think people should know before they buy one.

First, lets start with the good. It's a beautiful, safe, and well-constructed car that's very fuel efficient. The interior is roomy and nothing seems cheap or chintzy. I'm a large guy (6'4") and it seats me comfortably with ample headroom. I also really like the iPod/USB stereo integration, and the audio controls on the steering wheel. I have a 2GB USB drive that I use almost exclusively as my source of music—CDs are a thing of the past. All-in-all, it's a great car, period.

Now for the caveats… First and foremost we have the topic of gas mileage. While it is POSSIBLE to exceed 50mpg with this car, you won't be able to pull it off without a conscious effort. That means extremely slow accelerations, wise usage of the regenerative breaking system, and keeping it around 60 mph on the interstate. From what I've seen, the most fuel-efficient speed for the car is around 40mph. At that speed you can average around 70mpg on flat terrain. Back roads are your friend! Also, there are a couple other things that will KILL your gas mileage …cold temperatures and air conditioning. During the winter months I dropped about 10mpg. My drive to work is less than five miles which doesn't really give the battery enough time to warm up and become efficient. The mpg drop wouldn't be nearly as significant with a longer commute, but this isn't the best winter car. Keep that in mind if you live in a cooler climate. At the other end of the spectrum we have blazing hot temperatures and air conditioning. Driving with the windows down is far more fuel efficient in this car. Again, if you are doing a lot of highway driving the mpg won't drop as much, but you'll still take a noticeable hit. It's accelerating with the AC on that really sucks the gas—not to mention it feels like your stuck in bubble gum.

Other than the varying gas mileage, I really only have one other criticism, and it's more of an annoyance than anything. It has to do with the aerodynamics/design of the car. Since I rarely use the AC my windows are almost always open. Unfortunately if it has been raining, or is drizzling, cracking the windows results in some annoyingly large water droplets forming above the door frame and falling inside the car. Bleh!

Needless to say, I love the car, and if you don't mind driving like grandpa you probably would too. Each tank of gas is a new game, and the mpg is the score!