Honda Settles Lawsuit Over Civic Hybrid Mileage Claim

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan

In 2007, over 120,000 Civic Hybrid owners had a beef with Honda. So much so, in fact, that they sued the Japanese company. What do you reckon the reason could be? Unsafe cars? Think again. Poor build quality? No, they sued Honda because their Civic Hybrids didn’t get the stated fuel mileage. New York Times’ Wheels Blog reports that 2 plantiffs, John True of Ontario, California, and Gonzalo Delgado of Chino Hills California along with 120,000 other Honda Civic Hybrid owners argued in the United States District Court for the Central District of California that they were only getting 31 mpg instead of the advertised 49mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway. The plaintiffs believe that Honda’s advertising led them to believe that the Civic Hybrid would get better fuel economy than is likely in real world driving. Needless to say, the plaintiffs weren’t challenging the EPA methods of predicting mileage, just that Honda, allegedly, deceived customers by not making it clear that they were unlikely to achieve the EPA figures. Honda, naturally, have a different take.

They believe that assertions against them are illogical. The EPA tested the vehicle and gave the car a rating. They also say they followed all federal regulations and refuse to admit to any wrongdoing. What makes this story even more bizarre is the outcome. Honda, for whatever reason has decided on a settlement. What has been proposed is that Mr True will receive $12,500, Mr Delgado will receive $10,000 and the remaining 120,000 unhappy Civic hybrid owners will get, at most, a coupon for $1000 off a new Honda. And as with every coupon, there’s small print. The coupon isn’t valid for the Insight, Civic Hybrid, Fit or any certified used Honda or Acura. The coupon cannot be transferred and the current hybrid must be sold or traded in. If that settlement doesn’t grab the plaintiffs, then there are 2 more options: A $500 discount for a customer who doesn’t want to sell their Civic Hybrid or $100 cash. “The purchaser of a Honda Civic Hybrid is a person who is interested in fuel economy,” said Clarence Ditlow, the Executive director of the Centre for Auto Safety, “So, the settlement allows them to buy any vehicle but a fuel-efficient vehicle. In other words, you get a coupon for the purchase of a vehicle that you don’t want.” pointing out the obvious flaw with Honda’s proposed settlement. But Mr Ditlow forgot to mention the cherry on the settlement: Honda will also throw in a DVD on getting better fuel economy. At least Honda didn’t take the condescension any further and include a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Cammy Corrigan
Cammy Corrigan

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  • Morea Morea on Dec 16, 2009
    Bzzzt. Wrong. The EPA tests some cars randomly but does not have the resources to test all cars:
  • Douglas Sloan Douglas Sloan on Feb 24, 2010

    I have driven a Honda Civic Hybrid for the past 7 years. I noticed very early that the milage as given by the gauge was overstated by two or three decimal points. Nevertheless and taking that into account, I have never got less than 5.2 liters/100 km (going up to 6.2 in the winter with snow tires). Using the conversion factors on a Canadian government website I calculate I am getting 65 miles per U.S. gallon, which as far as I am concerned, puts the lie to these yahoos who claim they are getting less than half that mileage. By the way I have never had any problems with the hybrid parts of the car. It is a beautiful piece of engineering. As an added bonus, the hybrid electric motor takes over from the usual starting motor, giving just incredible starting power. It always starts instantly, without any signs of cranking, and even in minus 30 degree weather. It also give great accleration. I am a retired teacher with no connection to Honda.

  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.