By David Thomas on May 21, 2013
Our long-term Honda Civic has only been in our fleet for a few months, but I've already racked up several weeks' worth of drive time in it. Besides the fact that it is a very capable commute car with a nice stereo and comfortable seats, I've found myself driving this car differently than I expected. I drive it like a hybrid.
When I test hybrids I generally don't employ hypermiling techniques to rack up impressive mileage figures, but I do drive the cars "smarter" while still keeping up with traffic. That means accelerating smoothly without hammering down the gas pedal, coasting when possible and when in heavy traffic leaving room between the car in front of me to reduce braking.
The other day I realized I was doing all this in the Civic too.
The reason? Those two darn strips of horizontal lights around the digital speedometer that go from blue to green the more economically you drive. Their placement high on the dashboard means it's nearly impossible to disregard them when driving. I guess I want to make them happy and go green more than I thought.
Another cue is the instant mileage meter directly to the right of the digital speedometer. Many cars have a similar readout, but it's usually in a less prominent position. Unlike the green bars, I'm not trying to push the meter all the way to the right, but it is like a score in a game. [Hyundai's Veloster actually has an mileage game built into its multimedia system.]
I also feel bad for the Civic.
Most of its life with us has been in urban driving and bumper-to-bumper commutes, which have resulted in less-than-stellar mileage totals. It hasn't had a road trip yet and rarely hits 55 mph. I'm routinely swapping the LCD screen from the music display to the trip computer so I can see if I'm moving the average mpg number up for the poor little guy.
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David