"EPA MPG very close"4.5 starson by profx.us
Pros: great interior; great mpg; great ride
Cons: no split down rear seat
Summary: I purchased an 06 Civic Hybrid in February and have not been disappointed. First, the mpg I'm seeing is very close to the EPA estimate of 50 - I'm getting on average 48 MPG. I expect that to go up as the weather warms up. The car is easy to drive and FUN! I like not being reminded that I'm in a hybrid. There are no complicated controls and displays. The IMA system takes care of everything from Auto-stopping the engine to kicking in the electric motor to handling braking between the regenerative braking and the normal disc brakes. Everything is controlled very smoothly. The instrumentation gauges help you modify your driving to maximize your MPG without going overboard. There is a simple instantaneous MPG gauge, an average MPG gauge for two different trips (I use one for the current tank and the second for a lifetime average of the vehicle); and an instantaneous electric motor assist/regenerative braking gauge. These gauges help you driving with MPG and the environment in mind but are not a safety issue.
One thing I really like about the Civic Hybrid is the styling. I like that it looks like a car and not a space pod. I love the interior. It is very refined. I'm not partial to the Prius' swoopy dash and strange gear shift and push button parking brake. The interior in the Civic is just pleasing and very well thought out.
The voice recognition is superb and another safety feature. You can say "find nearest gas station" and it will find you a station and plot you a course to it immediately. You can say "show parking garages" and it will display icons of all the parking garages in your area. Let's say you're on the freeway and the traffic is really backed up. You can say "detour" and the system will immediately plot you a new course, rerouting you off the highway and around using surface streets. Really handy if you're in an unfamiliar area. The voice recognition is also hooked into the climate control and audio systems so you can say "temperature 72" or "play next track".
Finally, I was blown away by the standard safety features the Civic Hybrid offers: 6 standard airbars (2 up front, 2 front side bags and 2 rear curtain); active head restraints where the car will sense a rear collision and automatically raise and push the head restraints forward to brace your neck; A.C.E. body structure. This is new for Honda and they'll roll it out into all Honda models but the Civic is first. Basically, the frame of the car is designed in such a way that there are two different pathways for energy to be rerouted around the passenger cage: one for head on with a normal car and another with a raised center point of collision (read:SUV). The car also supports a 4 channel ABS system and the computer can supply 2 different ABS braking patterns based on conditions.
Honda is known first as an engine company, then as a car company and the engine on the Civic is a fine example of this. It is a 1.3 liter 4 cylinder that I find has good power to get on freeways as well as to pass. The engine is very advanced. It is an iVTEC engine meaning that the onboard systems can switch the valve timing to meet different load demands. Also, the engine features variable cylinder management (VCM) where all 4 cylinders can be deactivated: no fuel being consumed. The transmission on the Civic Hybrid is Continuously Variable (CVT). This means there are no gears. No shifting, just infinitely smooth acceleration. The CVT also allows the engine to stay in its optimal RPM range thereby increasing fuel economy. Finally, there is a very flat but efficient electric motor sandwiched between the gas engine and the drivetrain. The battery pack is located behind the rear passenger seats which is why they don't fold down. The electric motor provides great high-end torque when you need it (like taking off from a light or passing on the freeway). The entire Honda hybrid system is collectively known as IMA (Integrated Motor Assist). It is different than Toyota's HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive). I prefer the IMA system because of its engineering simplicity. Being an engineer I subscribe to the theory that the less complication there is in a system, the less chance there is for something to go wrong. In the end, the two real-world MPG's are almost exactly the same (check out www.greenhybrid.com for real world fuel estimates on the two).
How do all these systems work together? Well, taking off from a light, the electric motor kicks in and gives you good starting torque. As you pick up speed, the gas engine provides more and more power. The iVTEC switches to low valve timing as you level out to highway cruising speeds. This means the engine is in lean burn mode. The engine RPMs are around 1800 at 60MPG which is unheard of for an engine this small. If you need to accelerate on the freeway, the iVTEC switches to high valve timing for added power. The electric motor also kicks in to give you a boost. As you go downhill or coast, the VCM kicks in and all the cylinders are shut down. Basically, the engine turns off. All is quiet as your fly down the road. Occassionally, the electric motor will kick in to assist in maintaining speed. As you hit the breaks to slow down, the rengerative braking system kicks in and slows the car down by reversing the electric motor which acts as a braking system as it recharges the batteries. This means less wear on your brakes. The whole system is seamless is amazingly efficient.
One incorrect statement in the review is that the 2006 Civic Hybrid cannot power the car alone on electric. This was true for the 2005 version but is not the case for 2006. The electric motor on the 2006 can and does power the car on its own under certain load conditions. The electric motor isn't big enought to get the car moving on its own from a stop. But, on level surface streets or on the freeway, the engine VCM will kick in shutting down the gas engine and the electric motor will power the car. This happens to me on the freeway quite a bit and its cool because all you hear in wind.
Great car. Long review but I hope it was helpful.