Saturday, January 07, 2006

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid

I took delivery of this Opal blue-silver 2006 Civic Hybrid late in November 2005. I've driven it about 6,000 miles so far. Does it get the mileage? YES, as much as 60 MPG highway and 50 around town - but you earn it. What do I mean?
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You drive it as if you've got a cracked raw egg between your right foot and the gas pedal and you watch the "instant" MPG gauge.
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Your gas mileage drops instantly as you begin to go up-hill. You learn NOT to push down on the accelerator pedal to maintain your speed while going up-hill. You'll need to get good at carefully regaining your speed once you crest the hill and start down-hill again.
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I refer to my new driving style as PIF (Priest in a Funernal). If you drive it like you "used" to drive then say hello to 30 miles per gallon.
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It's up to you... drive slow and prosper... drive "normal" and suffer. Take your pick. My "new" PIF driving style nets me 45 to 50 MPG around town and 52 to even 60 MPG on the highway. But forget about using cruise control - and forget ever exceeding 65 miles an hour. That's about the maximum you'll ever see in this car and still hit the magic 50 MPG number.
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The quality of the car is very high... everything tight, quiet, etc. It drives and handles like any other car. Acceleration is perfectly adequate - but, here again, you launch the car veeeeerrry carefully if you want to see those big MPG numbers. It's plenty spacious inside. I'm 6'2" and weight 225. The driver's seat is comfortable. There is no sunroof option on the CH so you gain another 2 inches right there. Tall folks will love this car - hybrid or not - without the sunroof option.
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Some bad stuff? Okay.
  • The end of the stupid emergency brake handle digs into the right side of your knee. You gotta ask yourself, "HOW ON EARTH COULD HONDA HAVE ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN ?". But the standard tilt & telescope steering wheel combined with a seat with manual up/down and back/forth and recline does, at least, allow you to "get away from" that insane e-brake handle. So that's been less of a problem for me than I thought it would have been at first. Still I don't think Honda could have come up with worse placement of that handle. Honda, are you listening? You SCREWED UP the emergency brake handle - (let me quote Tricky Dick Cheney) "BIG time".

  • You can swing the sun visor but you can't "slide" it so if you need to swing it to the side because the sun's coming in the left side of the car and you're long-legged like me with the seat back then you're driving with about 5 inches of glass between the end of the short sun visor and the door pillar with the sun right DAM-IT in your left eye. THIS IS TRULY A SAFETY TRANSGRESSION AND HONDA SHOULD ISSUE AN IMMEDIATE RECALL ON THIS CAR TO REPLACE THE DRIVER'S SUN VISOR WITH ONE THAT WILL FULLY "SLIDE" TO PROTECT THE DRIVER. I wonder how many other new 2006 model cars at $23,000 don't have adequate sun visor protection for the driver.
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There is an AUX input jack right in the dash beneath the radio so my little Sirius (brand) receiver plugs right in to the car's great audio system. The standard CD plays MP3's and WMA's so I'm able to play my CD's that I burned with 200 + tunes no problem. I don't have an iPod but you can plug anything with a signal into that jack. Very cool.
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Lastly, to those of you who make the argument that we're all crazy for buying this or that hybrid because we'd have to drive 'em a million miles to recover the additional "hybrid" premium forget to take into account the extra several thousand dollars we get back when we trade-in the car or sell it ourselves not to mention the handsome tax credit we're still temporarily getting - at least the first 60,000 of us, anyway. I guess I've never seen that debate anywhere and I just felt the need to say it and, hopefully, begin an honest discussion of the true overall cost of hybrid vehicle ownership.
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btw: Honda's already announced a 2006 HCH production run of about 28,000 vehicles which guarantees that all of us who buy one will get the 2006 tax credit. Toyota will tripple that with about 90,000 Prius vehicles for 2006 so be sure to buy your Pruis in the first 1/3rd of 2006.
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