Hybrid fuel economy has been a hot topic on the blog, so when I had a chance to take a 100-mile trip in Honda's Civic Hybrid, I made sure to keep detailed gas mileage notes. While my trip average of 40 mpg was much lower than the EPA's combined 50 mpg estimate for the Civic Hybrid, it's pretty close to the new combined rating of 42 mpg that 2008 Civic Hybrids will receive as a result of new government testing procedures. More interesting, though, was the effect different types of driving conditions had on the car's fuel economy.
My route took me on a variety of roads, including suburban streets and toll roads, with speeds ranging from 5 mph to around 70 mph.
Of all the conditions I encountered, the Civic Hybrid returned the best gas mileage during traffic-free cruising; during a stretch of suburban driving at speeds between 30 and 50 mph, I averaged 49 mpg. At the midway point in my trip, which had already included faster toll-road driving, the car's average-mpg readout read 44.6 mpg.
What eroded the gas mileage gains I'd made when cruising was a long section of stop-and-go traffic on a section of tollway that was under construction. Unlike the Ford Escape Hybrid and other hybrids that are able to move through this type of situation on electric power, the Civic Hybrid's four-cylinder engine, which usually stops when the car comes to a halt, restarts every time you take your foot off the brake pedal, burning more gas. It was also about 85 degrees outside during the second leg of my trip, so I had the air conditioning running with the windows up.
If there are any Civic Hybrid owners out there with gas mileage stats of their own to report, leave a note in the comments.