After spending a week and more than five hundred miles with a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid, we walked away thoroughly impressed. Although rated at 40 city / 45 highway miles per gallon (MPG), we were able to easily exceed those numbers, landing 46.2 MPG combined.
Vanquish the thoughts of the tiny lightweight high-MPG Civics of yore (youth) … The roomy 2008 Civic has grown into adulthood and the Hybrid sits proudly at the top of the range.
The Civic Hybrid is an ideal commuter’s car, achieving its best mileage out on the highway, unlike the Prius, Altima Hybrid, and Camry Hybrid, which deliver better mileage in the the city. The purpose of the electric motor in Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system is to to provide oomph under acceleration. While the Civic Hybrid shuts its gasoline engine down at stoplights (like its competitors), it does not have the ability to crawl away from a stop and around town solely under electric propulsion.
As with any vehicle, an investment of time is required to learn how to achieve the best fuel economy. The uncluttered gauges in the Civic Hybrid make that learning curve short. While lacking a big fancy animated LCD screen, the digital MPG and Assist/Charge gauges provide instant feedback. Honda decided to forgo the cartoon for the sake of simplicity, to good effect.
The cockpit is cleanly designed, with a touch of whimsy in the fabrics. It’s a friendly spaceship. The dashboard display is clearly wrapped around the driver, using a two-level scheme that curves the gauges around the steering wheel. With the digital speedometer and MPG gauge just below the windshield, you’ll be able to keep your eyes on the road while monitoring your fuel efficiency.
The Civic Hybrid doesn’t look like a hybrid. While the interior is space age, the exterior offers few visual clues to its hybrid soul.
It’s low-key, stealthy green …
… to be continued …
– by Daniel Gray