Honda Hits The 40 MPG Beach

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
honda hits the 40 mpg beach

Under fire from a surging Hyundai that seems bent on winning the fuel economy PR battle, Honda is bringing back the HF trim-level for a non-hybrid 2012 Civic that will get an “EPA-estimated 41 MPG on the highway.” That’s two EmmPeeGees better on the freeway than the standard 2012 Civic Sedan or Coupe (with the same 140 HP), which Honda estimates at 39 MPG. Still, that’s considerably less than the 45 MPG combined that Honda claims for the 2012 Civic Hybrid, in order to leave room for the 41 MPG combined Insight. Meanwhile, the 200 HP Civic Si gets a 31 MPG estimate, a number that will likely fail to impress a world that’s getting used to 300 HP muscle-coupes offering similar numbers (in case you’re wondering, Honda hasn’t released City MPG estimates). And then there’s the question of looks… provided you can spot the changes from the outgoing model. Still, conservative looks and a palate of efficiency levels sound like a safe bet for a traditional segment leader.

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  • Jacob Jacob on Feb 22, 2011

    One word... stagnation.. I expected more from the new Civic...

  • Wmba Wmba on Feb 22, 2011

    Hmmm... An anecdotal ramble. Cruze weighs 3200 pork pie pounds. Honda Civic weighs 2750. Advantage Honda. Since any moving object is possessed of kinetic energy, it stands to good reason that it takes less energy to accelerate it at a given rate (usually traffic governed) to a given speed. It is a linear relationship to mass. So, the Honda requires less energy to get to a given speed. Ergo, better mileage. As I sit here, typing with newly-filed fingernails, having just had mine torn by a Cruze's ridiculously poorly-designed interior door pull (it's sloped the wrong way, GM), I decided to investigate real world mileage on True Delta. Hmm.., Honda Civics average about 30 to 34 mpg US already, if you believe their owners. The SI model, only about 26, about the same as the one Cruze reporting, a turbo. I've been fascinated by this thread, seeing that all the usual suspects have come out of the woodwork, pushing their points-of-view. I drive a Legacy GT, whose average for me has been 23 for 3 years, so I could care less about these C segment cars personally, although I would appreciate the Cruze boosters writing to Subaru on my behalf to inform them that the increased thermodynamic efficiency of my turbo engine should make it get better mileage than the standard Legacy of the exact same displacement, despite the GT engine running slower at cruising speeds. But I digress. Possessed of a spirit of minor adventure, I decided to take a look at these cars yesterday, since I had the day off. I didn't look at Civics -- enough people at work have them and average 33 mpg or 8 l/100km. Same with the Corollas. There are enough of these beasts around that we know what mileage they really get. And it's good. Real world good. The new Elantra. Weight 2800 lbs. Looks, er, interesting. Nice interior to behold, all hard, though. Real world, it's noisy and pounds and jiggles over bumps and potholes. (Quite unlike the Elantra Touring a friend has -- that's much nicer) Didn't like the steering much. Um, Hyundai need to get out the firmware update kit for this beast. It would drive me crazy. This is an unrefined vehicle and will no doubt sell on looks alone. The engine, an almost clone of the Civic's even down to bore and stroke, but tuned a bit higher, is not in my considered view even close to being as refined as a Civic. Scratch that one for Auntie May. We'll all have to wait and see whether its real world fuel mileage actually comes even close to the Civic's. What's that you say? Can't hear you. Great salesman though. Over to VW, where I've avoided setting foot for almost 30 years, due to an unfortunate 10 month experience with an original new 1980 Jetta. A piece of crap doesn't even begin to describe that thing. Ahem. Well, anyway, new Jettas everywhere in the showroom, hiding in plain sight. They are anonymous. For some reason, the cheapest one was 7 grand more than the come-on Canadian price of $17K including delivery. The interior sucks the big one all right, bonk bonk plastic, but a big back seat. TDI models a coupla K more - I thought they were supposed to have the Golf rear suspension for the extra moola. Look underneath. Nope, they all had the beam axle. Window sticker on the TDI -- 61 mpg highway (our big Imperial gallon, you know), but 4.7 l/100 km is good. Hop in a Golf alongside, and you know it's better quality in about two seconds. Anyway, I like my bosses' new TDI wagon, and he gets great mileage, averaging about 6l/100km. Nice salesman - offered me a ride on Saturday. Well, I'm here now, Bill. Saturday, not so good. Drive on down to the Chevrolet store. Admission, I haven't been in any Chev store since 1977 when I thought I'd like a 350 Nova four speed manual, and a Master Salesman advised me that a 305 automatic with bench seats would suit me just fine. Gee thanks, bud! Not wishing to tell the man off for not listening, I left and almost bought a Renault 30 V6. Thank god I didn't. Today, I'm met by a very well-dressed attractive older woman, who informs me that she's a greeter. Shades of WalMart! I'm lead to a Cruze with open hood and the teeny turbo engine on view. Iron block? Argh! Rear drum brakes on turbo. The car is a dead ringer for my Legacy in size, inside and out, and almost in weight. Then I attempt to close the door and ruin two fingernails. Poor design there for me. Fluffy fuzzy-wuzzy fabric on the dash. Nice interior though, although driver's seat a bit narrow. Stand around, stand around, can't get a drive because salesmen tied up selling trucks. Leave biting my fingernails to some semblance of normality. Off to Subaru to look at Imprezas and the new Forester chain-driven DOHC engine. These cars have the cheapest interiors of any I've seen. Yuck. Forget 'em. And the worst predicted mileage, which I'm sure will come true. Anyway, to complete this ramble, I'll make a prediction. The Civic and Corolla will get better mileage than the Cruze in the real world, and the Elantra needs help all round. TrueDelta and CR will tell the tale, but light weight brings its own rewards. Best seats and interior I sat in all day? Sonata turbo -- if it had AWD, I'd be interested. I really don't want to spend my time correcting steering under acceleration. Also, don't know how Hyundai paint their vehicles, but all the Hyundais have real gleaming paint and make the other manufacturer's wares look dowdy. Most down salesman I met all day? Kia folk -- no Optimas for another two months at least in Canada, while the Hyundai people are coining gold with the new Sonata.

    • Philosophil Philosophil on Feb 23, 2011

      What a great post! Thanks for that. I agree with your 'real mileage' comments by the way. Both the Corolla and the Civic do exceptionally well in that regard, and it will be interesting to see whether the Cruze, Elantra, and so on can live up to their hype. I'm not a Honda or Toyota 'fan boy' as it were (I drive a 03 Jetta and my wife a Grand Caravan if that matters). I just like to give credit where credit is due.

  • FreedMike I guess it's good to hear they finally made the third row livable - the one on the old RX was a joke - but, man, is this generic-looking.
  • Alan I read the front wheels are driven by the engine and the rear wheels by electric in the hybrid. I also find it odd it isn't offered as the 2.4 hybrid with 250kw on tap.
  • KOKing That base hybrid system must be something other than the normal Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, since that uses the two electric motors as the ('CVT') transmission without a separate transmission of any kind.
  • Analoggrotto Too much of the exterior is shared with the Grand Highlander. Toyota/Lexus is clearly over extended here as this was rushed in direct response to the Kia Telluride which has decimated RX sales. Lexus was not such a major offender of just changing the front and rear end caps on a lesser Toyota model (this worked for LX / Land Cruiser as the latter is already expensive) but for such a mass market vehicle, buyers will notice and may just go to Toyota (or Kia) for their big SUV.
  • Crtfour I'm a BOF SUV fan. In my opinion it's certainly not a looker (but what is these days). But it does look the part and should be great off road. Plus kudos to Toyota for retaining actual shift levers. So I give it a thumbs up.