• Dec 16, 2009
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, according to The New York Times, 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: The New York Times]


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  • 48 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The government sets rules and regulations to protect consumers. The corporation follows these rules and regulations to the letter and still get sued by the consumer. Something is not right here, when the government imposes standards onto an industry it should absolve those companies working within the industry from law suits as those companies are only doing what the government has allowed / told them they can do.

      This is very similar to the Explorer roll over case. The Explorer met federal crash safety standards yet they were still found responsible.

      If the government is going to raise the bar on standards throughout industry they need to back it up by protecting those that follow those standards. Allow NHTSA to raise the roof strength standards so long as it absolves the car companies from frivolous claims like the explorer suit. Same goes for gas mileage.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The government only sets minimum rules and regulations to protect consumers. This does not absolve corporations from liability if a products causes injury or does not live up to advertised performance. (Not saying that is the case here)

        Automakers are required to put EPA estimates on the window sticker and that is it. They are not required to tout it heavily in marketing as Honda did. If you read the article it is more about Honda's own marketing of the Civic hybrid, not the accuracy of EPA numbers.

        The Explorer roll over case was not about crash standards. It was about Ford making a vehicle that is inherently rollover prone. The NHTSA has no requirements for rollover resistance. Ford also gave a tire inflation numbers that were excessively low, exacerbating failure of an already failure prone tire.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Do you people know anything about cars? Why are you even talking about the Chevy Volt's "mileage" compared to this crappy Honda hybrid? The Volt is a plug-in electric with an on-board gasoline-powered electric generator.....not a hybrid that runs on a gasoline combustion engine with a small electric assist.

      The Volt should not even carry a "miles per gallon" figure when it comes out.....as should no other plug-in electric. They need to abandon "miles per gallon" when rating plug-in electrics.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sounds more like a user error than a product error.

      Moreover, like everyone said, the EPA rates these vehicles, Honda posts the results. If they did their own rating, nobody would listen to it or accuse them of manipulating the results.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Again, wtf?
      • 5 Years Ago
      So if this goes through, what's that mean? That people who cannot achieve their vehicle's EPA rating should be given money from their automaker? Cuz I know some Mustang and Subaru owners who are getting well below their EPA ratings, the poor saps. Hmmm... perhaps I should stop driving efficiently and sue BMW. I think I could achieve 16 mpg on highway (rather than my normal 30) by just holding it in 3rd. And BMW never said in their manual to drive in a higher gear to get better mileage, so it's their fault!
      • 5 Years Ago
      So....

      Basically this was a waste of time for everyone except the lawyers?
      • 5 Years Ago
      $3 mil... and everyone else get's $100? Wow.

      The $1000 off a new Honda is basically crap since they probably won't be eligible for any other deals if they use it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ah, the irony!

      Only in America can we have:

      1) guy buying a car touted as a high mileage vehicle and doesn't get it, leading to a lawsuit
      2) the plaintiffs in the lawsuit win less than the purchase price of the vehicle in question
      3) other buyers of the "high-mileage vehicle" are given a voucher for a purchase of a new vehicle - but it doesn't apply if it's another "high-mileage vehicle" (even the Fit?!)
      4) and the lawyers take home almost $3 million for their efforts.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Having an 05 Civic EX SE and I average 37 MPG in the summer with a heavy foot and drive over 70, I find it hard to beleive those figures. Either A) those specific cars were defective or B) those guys don't know how to drive. Who would want to bet that the owners got the car in the winter, hybrids aren't as good in the winter. And the winnings are joke, the real winners are the lawyers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Attorneys strike again. Taking large profits, screwing a company and the "victims", Although I wouldnt call them "victims"

      When you buy a damn hybrid it will not be fast. Stop hammering the throttle and drive for fuel efficacy. You didnt buy a fast car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So perhaps it's too easy to game the EPA test system. But if Honda was designing the car to do significantly better in the test than in real conditions, they deserve a little egg on their face.
      • 5 Years Ago
      just wait for the GM Volt lawsuits to start flying when the car is released
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