Unlike some people, I just couldn't resist getting a Honda Civic Hybrid. On top of the $5,000 incentive that Google offers for the purchase of a fuel efficient vehicle there was also the "green loan" program at the credit union which reduced our loan a whole point.

Not only does this car get 49 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway, we also bought the satellite navigation package with voice recognition. It works really well and it feels like driving KITT. You can turn the radio on and off, change stations, control the air condition, etc. - all by voice commands. You can also ask it questions, like the outside temperature, or the distance to your destination and the car will tell you. One last feature of the radio/navigation system is that the radio has an SD card slot for MP3s.

Driving the Civic is just like driving any other car as far as controls and handling. One of the things that is different is the sound of the car. Until you drive a hybrid you don't realize how attuned you've become to the 'normal' sound of a car and how disorienting it can be when you drive a car that doesn't conform to those expectations. One disorienting factor is that the Civic has a Continuously Variarble Transmission which means there's no shifting; as you get up to speed on the highway the RPMs just slowly drop off. Another factor is that the gasoline engine turns off when the car comes to a stop. This is apparently so disorienting that Honda has a special green light that flashes under the tachometer under those conditions. I'm not sure of the exact wording, and I'm paraphrasing here, but it's something along the lines of, "Please don't freak out, your engine is stopped, but it's supposed to do that. Remain Calm." It displays this in a reassuring green light at every stop. I can only imagine the usability testing that went into that little light.

The car listens to me, talks to me, gets 50 mpg, and in three months Google will cut me a check for $5,000. You can't beat that with a stick.

Much the same reason why I ended up getting a Toyota Prius back in '02. The newer hybrids get better mileage, but it's certainly good at getting 40mpg still these days, and that's even more beneficial in the UK where the tax is a whole lot higher than the US. Welcome to the club :-)

Posted by Alex Blewitt on 2007-09-03

Much the same reason why I ended up getting a Toyota Prius back in '02. The newer hybrids get better mileage, but it's certainly good at getting 40mpg still these days, and that's even more beneficial in the UK where the tax is a whole lot higher than the US. Welcome to the club :-)

Posted by Alex Blewitt on 2007-09-03

My 8-year-old Renault Twingo gets a little less than your Civic ~ 5.5L/100km (42 mpg). Gas also costs upwards of $6 a gallon. Congratulations on your new car but please realize that the MPG is only mediocre by international standards.

Posted by Karl Ostendorf on 2007-09-04

Sounds cool, congratulations !! Now you need an office to commute to :-)

Posted by Sai on 2007-09-04

Karl,

Wow, that's a tiny car, no wonder you get 42 mpg. Back in college my wife and I had a Subaru Justy, which is also a sub-compact car, that got 45 to 50 mpg. The Civic is in a different class being a 4-door sedan.

Posted by Joe on 2007-09-04