• Dec 15th 2009 at 7:46PM
  • 46
2008 Honda Civic Hybrid - Click above for high-res image gallery

If you buy a hybrid, you'll be rewarded with excellent fuel economy, right? Well, that's the idea, but sometimes things don't turn out exactly as we had hoped. Such is apparently the case with a number of Honda Civic Hybrid owners who claim that their vehicles don't even come close to achieving the mileage figures estimated by the EPA, leading to a class action lawsuit against Honda.

Back in the summer of 2007, we conducted a telephone interview with John True, one of the two men who started the suit. At the time, True claimed he only achieved, at best, 34.6 miles per gallon and had averaged well under that figure. The window sticker showed EPA estimates of 49 city and 51 highway, though the EPA's revised 2008 rating sits at 40 city and 45 highway.

For its part, Honda admits to no wrongdoing and points out that it was the EPA that estimated those mileage figures. Still, the Japanese automaker has agreed to settle the case out of court. If approved, owners of 2003-2008 Civic Hybrids will get a voucher worth up to $1,000 to purchase a new Honda or a check for $100 if they can prove they complained to Honda about their car's mileage.

Interestingly, the current Civic Hybrid, Insight and Fit – Honda's three most fuel efficient models – are excluded from the list of vehicles eligible for the trade-in or purchase voucher. The two plaintiffs would receive $12,500 and $10,000 and their lawyers would pocket $2.95 million. So, um, is it a fair deal? Perhaps more importantly, is Honda to blame here? Sound off in the comments.



[Source: NY Times]


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  • 46 Comments
      • 8 Months Ago
      It's been really interesting reviewing the comments so far. They seem to focus on the suit and the lawyers or on the drivers of the cars that got poor mileage.

      I'm a long-time devotee of Honda cars and believe them to be the best available value. However, when I read this story, I felt ashamed of Honda. "For its part, Honda admits to no wrongdoing and points out that it was the EPA that estimated those mileage figures."

      Why would anyone buy a Honda Civic Hybrid if they weren't interested in superior mileage? Why would Honda market a Honda Civic Hybrid if they weren't interested in offering a car that actually gets high mileage? If people are not getting high mileage in the cars they paid a premium for, Honda should accept responsibility.

      Maybe you're right and these guys are leadfoots and don't have defective cars. I just don't like Honda saying it's not their problem.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The settlement is not fair to Honda! The EPA does the test and they require the automakers to use their numbers. How is this Honda's fault that some owners did no get the exact mileage listed? I can make any car NOT match their EPA numbers. is it the fault of the car companies?
      • 8 Months Ago
      This whole thing is absurd! But then people will do and try anything. As long as the cars check out and don't need servicing then it points to these two being heavier with the right foot than the EPA allows for when it makes the rating.

      I have read of people who have bought Hondas and Toyotas thinking they were buying cars that would never fail. Nice thought but how realistic is that? Then, when they do have an unresolved issue they can't say enough nasty things about their cars and the companies. Some people just need to be locked up some where!
      Brian Workman
      • 8 Months Ago
      What a BS settlement for honda civic hybrid owners! Lawyers Win! Car owners Loose Again!! There is no Justice if there is no tourt court system in the USA!!
      patbaker9
      • 8 Months Ago
      I own a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid with standard transmission. Car has gotten over 41 mpg on all kinds of driving for 65,000 miles.
      mdcaver
      • 8 Months Ago
      The original mileage estimates apply only if Asians are driving....and if you haven't noticed, they all drive Hondas. They never go faster than 35 mph -- even when driving on Interstate highways -- usually drive in the passing lane, and have no clue what a turn signal is for.
      Soonertunes.com
      • 8 Months Ago
      Guess these folks should have bought the Volkswagen TDI. VW's get the same great MPG even below 40F degrees, which is the temperature that the hybrid's engine must run continually if the driver requires the heater to be on. To that, add that the VW has heat forged steel door hinges (rather than cheap stamped steel), cast suspension components (Asian cars use cheap stamped steel for this too), and the fact that driving the VW doesn't cause everyone to smirk and laugh at you, there is really no good reason to be hoodwinked by any hybrid manufacturer. LOL!
      mdcaver
      • 8 Months Ago
      The original mileage estimates apply only if Asians are driving....and if you haven't noticed, they all drive Hondas. They never go faster than 35 mph -- even when driving on Interstate highways -- usually drive in the passing lane, and have no clue what a turn signal is for. And yes, I'm racist when it comes to Asians and their driving.
      • 5 Years Ago
      the observed fuel economy reported on fueleconomy.gov seems to be consistently slightly higher than the EPA combined number (I looked at 08, 06, and 04 automatic)
        • 8 Months Ago
        Did you look at the new figures or the original figures on the stickers of those cars?

        Remember that the EPA changed up their procedures in '08. The mileage they show on the site is comparable to the new procedures, you have to click on the "Compare to Official EPA Window Sticker MPG" to the right of the current EPA figures to see the old figures.

        I think you'll be a bit surprised.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "Did you look at the new figures or the original figures on the stickers of those cars? "

        Good point. My bad.

        I forgot how ridiculously the old EPA numbers exaggerate hybrid mpg.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My Civic Hybrid has an instant fuel gauge. When I test drove the car, I observed the actual fuel economy under various conditions. Not sure how anyone could point a finger at Honda when anyone can have an opportunity for real-time FE observations before purchasing. BTW, my average FE is 46 MPG, so no complaints here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I believe it is against the law to advertise any vehicle fuel economy OTHER than that found by the EPA.

      That being the case, how can it possibly be Honda's fault?

      Also, some individual owners are reporting better than EPA fuel economy (as is the case with every model in the books), so everything points to these just being bad drivers.... and good lawyers.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Thanks for the clarification.

        So if those model-year Civic Hybrids are tested on the then-applicable EPA test cycle, or were tested by the EPA at the time, and are (or were) found to get within 3% of the mileage that Honda used as "EPA Mileage Estimates", then they should be cleared of all wrongdoing, the the plaintiffs should be told to stuff it. Right?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Not exactly. Automakers are required to list the EPA estimates but they can also supplement them with their own. VW did that last year when they didn't like the EPA estimates on the Jetta TDI.

        Also, remember that the EPA doesn't test every car and often takes the manufacturer's estimate. They only test about 15% of all new vehicles. However, if the EPA gets complaints and does test the model, and the manufacturer's estimate doesn't come within 3%, there can be huge fines or the EPA can block sale.
        http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q3/the_truth_about_epa_city_highway_mpg_estimates-feature

        So it's possible that the EPA didn't test this vehicle and Honda did inflate the values.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wow, are people just starting to figure out that automakers LIE about fuel ratings? I purchased a 2004 Camry, and it was great on gas so when the new body came out I purchased the 2007 brand new. Loved that 2004 so much that I bought the 07 without even test driving it first, was just sure it had to be as good as the 04 and got a spectacular deal, got top dollar for the 04, lowest possible price for the 07 ($18,900 for the LE), it being the best time to make the trade. The 07's fuel rating was like 34 or 36 highway. I barely got 22. I tried everything, Synthetic oil, super premium gas, fuel additives, that special gas in my tires instead of just air, driving slower, driving faster and couldn't for the life of me top 22 mpg. It killed me just looking at it, that beautiful car I loved so much, was such a ripoff, I felt like I got screwed, it wasn't what I felt like I paid for. Within a year & a half I couldn't stand the sight of it anymore, sold it to some lady who didn't even speak english, who paid me $16,000 in $20 bills and went and bought a secondhand 2007 Yaris instead for $7800 (a score!). A real bummer everytime I think of it but at least I got what I paid for this time and I'm paid off and not stuck paying on a scam. My aunt just bought an 09 Camry and tried telling me she gets 39 mpg and I laughed at her, the camry hybrid doesn't even get that! Funny how most people believe whatever you tell them and auto makers count on that. Most people can't even calculate their mileage. Wish I'd started some kind of class action suit, my husband and I talked about it but it didn't seem realistic. People can call these folks sue happy or sue scammers or money hungry all they want but wait until you've been mislead on something that cost you thousands of $ and are paying twice as much to get to work as you should be and then see how you feel about it.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "that automakers LIE about fuel ratings"

        Wrong! Automakers don't just come up with random numbers, the fuel rating is determined through a standardized test cycle prespecified by (according to region you're from) the EPA. The automakers couldn't, even if they would like to, write other numbers but the ones ascertained by the test cycle.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm Sure srue is a lawyer. SRUE: sue-r :-)

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