They say that it takes a village to raise a child and while that is definitely true the very same can easily be said about affecting global change on behalf of our ever more polluted environment. No matter if you believe in global warming or “carbon footprints,” no one can deny that our world has finite resources. But what can you do as one person?
Well, if you buy a 2010 Honda Civic hybrid you will not only be doing your own part by cutting down on our ravenous national consumption of fossil fuels but you will also be joining with the “village” of Honda Motor Company in their efforts to make our planet a greener place for future generations. Somewhere out there I can hear the cries of the jaded and disillusioned who claim that Corporations only care about profits and not the environment. Oh, how wrong they are.
If you doubt that a car company can ever really be eco-conscious, try to remember that the original Insight was the first hybrid car sold in the United States (it was not the Prius) and that the 1975 Honda Civic CVCC was the first car sold in North America to meet the first Congressional Clean Air Act without resorting to using a catalytic converter. Honda CRX HF models from the 1980’s are still renowned for returning 60 miles per gallon with a loyal owner’s club still having “fuel economy driving challenges” to this very day.
Honda founder Soichiro Honda even once said that, “When Congress passes new emission standards we hire 50 more engineers and GM hires 50 more lawyers.” He passed away way back in 1991 so you can easily see that a concern about the environment has been a core philosophy at Honda since the very beginning.
Honda is also working to have all of its North American factories (including those in Canada and Mexico where they are not obligated by our more stringent environmental laws) operate with near zero (less than 1% of materials used) landfill waste by 2012. Many of Honda and Acura’s newer facilities in the United States already operate with 0% landfill waste. Honda also is a leader in the industry with a CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) of 30.8 miles per gallon for its entire lineup of vehicles. So, are you still in doubt?
Now, dear readers, you have learned why Honda is a company you can believe in (note: more reports will soon be forthcoming here about Honda’s worldwide efforts to cut waste and curb pollution), why don’t we have a look at what makes the 2010 Honda Civic hybrid sedan such an excellent car. I could say it’s great “just because it’s a Civic” but a few more details are no doubt in order.
Exterior Styling and Interior
The four door Honda Civic is quite a familiar sight on our roads but even a few years after its initial introduction it is still quite a striking piece of design. Easily more adventurous than a Corolla yet not as fussy as the Mazda3, the 2010 Honda Civic hybrid’s styling strikes a nice balance between daring and subtly stylish. The lines flow neatly from the aggressively designed front fascia to the neatly integrated tail lamps.
The Honda Civic hybrid 4-door is also a great car for older people as its doors open very wide to expose large entry apertures. The rear seat in the 4 door Honda Civic has ample leg and headroom for people over six foot tall and a totally flat floor gives plenty of foot room even when the rear bench has three people riding in the back.
And oh yes, the 2010 Honda Civic hybrid’s interior still has that crazy digital speedo top/tachometer bottom dashboard design that caused such a stir when this car was first launched. Visually, it still proves to be one of the finest pieces of ergonomic daring possibly ever seen in a mainstream car. And it really is easy to keep your eyes on both the speedometer and tachometer at the same time without moving your head thanks to this very novel piece of engineering.
The climate controls, stereo controls and Navigation system (an option on Civic EX and hybrid models) are all within easy reach and the parking brake lever location is truly inspired. The automatic shift lever is delightfully tactile and should be in an art museum. But more than even the stunningly artful design, the interior of the Civic is comfortable. It is “let’s go on a road trip” comfortable.
The trunk opens very wide and can swallow 10.4 cubic feet (a little smaller than non-hybrid Civics) of groceries or whatever other junk you decide to carry. But if you are a fan of hypermiling you do know that keeping your trunk free of clutter can help improve your fuel economy. You do know that all of that (pardon the expression) junk in your trunk does lower your fuel economy right? Right?
But easily my favorite aspect of my Civic hybrid was something I never anticipated that I would enjoy. The seats in my tester were covered in leather that was not only richer feeling than anything in this class but it was also blue. It was a deep shade of navy blue that, in conjunction with some blue interior trim pieces, really made the interior of this Civic feel expensive and made a nice contrast to the silver exterior. I think Bentley may be the only other company that has ever pulled off blue leather before so kudos to Honda for matching that.
The current generation Civic was the first compact car in history to have standard front, side and curtain airbags as well as ABS, class leading pedestrian impact safety features and Honda’s patented ACE body structure. The ACE body structure makes it so the Honda Civic will perform identically in a collision with another vehicle no matter if it is a similarly sized or much taller vehicle. This means that even if you are hit by a much larger SUV the Civic will perform just as well as if it was hit by a car lower to the ground.
The Civic is also engineered with a pop up hood and breakaway windshield wipers that come into play should you hit a pedestrian. 60% of pedestrian fatalities are due to head injuries and these two features are aimed at drastically reducing those percentages. The Civic is also a “Top Safety Pick” of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) meaning it gets top scores in front, side and rear end collisions and has ESC (Electronic Stability Control).
Environmental Friendliness and Hybrid Technology
Jessica Fini, Honda’s Senior Environmental and Safety PR representative, helped explain the hybrid powertrain in the Civic to me in this way, “The Civic hybrid is the premium hybrid model in the Honda lineup. It is the only Honda hybrid equipped with a large, 15-kilowatt electric motor (whereas the Insight is equipped with a 10 kilowatt motor) allowing the Civic to run in electric only mode at low speeds and to maintain key comfort and convenience features like the air conditioner during auto stop mode. In the end, this larger battery allows the driver to save fuel and reduce emissions by remaining in electric only mode longer.”
As for the Civic hybrid’s green credentials Jessica had this to say, “The Civic hybrid was named to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s list of the Greenest Cars of the year for 2010. They rated it as a “Superior Choice” for consumers along with the Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle (named the greenest car of the year) and the Insight.”
Features, Content and Pricing
You can order your Civic hybrid in four different flavors-base form, with leather, with navigation and no leather or with leather and navigation. My tester had leather and navigation and with these options also came XM radio, heated seats, heated side mirrors, a leather wrapped steering wheel, a digital audio card reader, Bluetooth as well as steering wheel mounted audio, phone and navigation controls.
Every Honda Civic hybrid comes standard with automatic temperature control, a CVT automatic transmission, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, cruise control, a 6-speaker 160 watt AM/FM CD system with MP3/USB audio interface, space age alloy wheels and pretty much everything a new car needs.
Aside from the fact that the engine turns off when you apply the brakes at stop lights and then starts back up in what feels like a millisecond at stop lights (this stop/start system saves gas), the Honda Civic hybrid drives much like any Civic. This means it corners like a sports car, has a smooth ride and has easily the best steering feel calibration in its class. It may not match the Prius with its 50 mile per gallon city rating but it is far more fun to drive.
Acceleration felt strong to me in the cut and thrust of daily traffic and the Civic hybrid only felt a little bit burdened with three people aboard going up some steep hills. But when situations like that pop up you just shift the CVT transmission into sport, watch the revs rise and the hybrid takes off. This may destroy all of the little “battery energy” cubes on your dashboard display but a little bit of coasting and braking brings battery life up surprisingly quickly.
I did quite like that Honda didn’t resort to any sort of silly looking battery readouts (do we really need to watch leaves fall off a tree when we are being naughty and driving fast?) in the Civic hybrid. Aside from a small bar graph displaying how much you are charging to the battery vs. depleting the battery, there is also a real time fuel economy gauge up by the speedometer that can be changed to an engine temperature gauge. I figure knowing your car isn’t overheating is more important than watching the neat-o fuel economy gauge move around so I stuck with the engine temperature. I know, I am just no fun that way.
The Civic hybrid works a little differently than the Prius hybrid in the fact that most of the time the battery is just aiding the gas motor and the engine only turns off at lower speeds or when you are coasting to a stop. Hence, this is the reason why Honda calls its system “Integrated Motor Assist.” No matter how this complex work of engineering does its job, it does it well as I averaged an excellent 47 miles per gallon during my test.
How Dog Friendly is it?
Honda invented the term “Dog Friendly” with its awesome Honda Element with Dog Friendly Package so, of course, the Honda Civic is very dog friendly. The leather interior on my test model is of far higher quality than anything in this price class and the plastics look built to withstand even the abuse of a Great Dane. And you know if a dog can’t destroy the interior of your car then neither can your kids.
When you buy a new car you are also essentially investing in a car company. Many car companies are very sensitive when asked about green initiatives because they have no history or real interest in protecting the environment. Honda is enthusiastic about designing and building vehicles that run on alternative fuels (just look at the FCX Clarity hydrogen car) and finding ways to cut down on manufacturing waste.
Buying a Honda Civic hybrid will not only help you cut down on our dependence on foreign oil but it will also help cut down on smog emissions in your local area. Even better, the fun to drive Civic hybrid will also help cut down on something that nobody likes-the amount you spend each year on gasoline.
Car Tested: 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid
Base Price: $23,800
Price as Tested: $27,000
Options on Tester: Leather seats and trim, Navigation with voice activation, XM radio, heated seats, heated side mirrors, leather wrapped steering wheel, digital audio card reader and Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted audio, phone, navigation, cruise controls
Engine: 4-Cylinder-110 horsepower/123 lb. feet of torque
Electric Motor: adds 20 horsepower/70 lb. feet of torque
Transmission: CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission
Economy: 40 city/45 Highway
Economy as Tested: 47 Miles per Gallon
0-60: 12 seconds (estimated as depends on battery charge)