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.