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When it announced official pricing and fuel economy data for the 2014 Civic , Honda conspicuously left out any mention of the Hybrid or Natural Gas models. On its retail site, Honda still lists the 2012 model year for the Natural Gas, so we reached out to the automaker for some clarification.
Due to remaining inventory of the 2012 Civic Natural Gas, the 2013 model year was mostly sold to corporate and government fleets, and the 2012 still has a $3,000 gas card incentive that was introduced in October 2012. The 2014 Civic Natural Gas will get all of the same updates as the rest of the 2014 Civic lineup, including tweaked interior and exterior styling and some fancy new tech, but it will continue to use the five-speed automatic transmission rather than switching over to a continuously variable transmission.
No word yet on pricing for the 2014 Civic Natural Gas, but it will likely continue to be the highest-priced model of the Civic lineup when it goes on sale in February. The 2014 Civic Hybrid goes on sale at the same time.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Even after Honda's Great Emergency Refresh of 2013, it still takes a sharp eye to spot the visual differences between the 2013 Honda Civic and its 2012 counterpart. While annual styling changes used to be commonplace back in the 1950s and '60s, this has become a much rarer practice in the industry due to the high costs of doing so, and sets the tone for just how important the Civic is in the Honda lineup.
One thing that hasn't changed for the Civic is the wide selection of models available including the fuel-efficient HF, Natural Gas and Hybrid models. For this Quick Spin, I spent a week with the 2013 Civic Hybrid, which has always been a kind of un-Prius with its more-conventional sedan styling. The Civic's top-mpg offering now finds itself under fire from newer rivals like the Chevy Cruze (Eco and Diesel) and VW Jetta (TDI and Hybrid). With the growing number of hybrids, diesels and high-fuel-economy gas models car buyers currently have at their disposal, if you've been clamoring for more fuel-efficient cars in recent years, now's the time to be putting your money where your mouth is.
- The only part of the 2013 Civic Hybrid that was left alone, was the one area it could have used a little modernization: Honda's Integrated Motor Assist system. On the fuel economy front, sandwiching the 27-horsepower motor between the 110-hp 1.5-liter engine and the CVT returns EPA estimates of 44 miles per gallon for city and highway, which is far better than the mild-hybrid eAssist system used by General Motors but not as advanced as other hybrids in this segment. Unlike eAssist, Honda says that the motor can send power directly to the front wheels (but only during deceleration as a way to lessen the load on the engine), but unlike a more advanced hybrid, the Civic can't accelerate under all-electric power. Honda stepped up its game with a new lithium-ion battery for 2012, but it needs to come up with an equally advanced answer for the rest of the system.
- The advantage of IMA, though, is a less intrusive hybrid experience. Except for the stop-start system, the only way most drivers will really know this is a hybrid is by how much better it is at the pump. During my week with the car, I was pleasantly surprised at how the Civic never 'felt' like a hybrid but returned excellent fuel economy. Based on the in-cluster estimates I averaged just over 40 mpg on the highway, and in the city my numbers were consistently above the official 44-mpg rating.
- Aside from the powertrain, Honda made numerous small improvements that paid off big time with the styling of the 2013 Civic sedan lineup. The exterior received new fascias, taillights and a modified decklid to give all sedan models a more mature appearance, and the Civic Hybrid probably comes off as the most stylish of the Civic models now with its grinning chrome grille, LED running lights and the clear-lens, light-pipe taillights.
- Interior updates were equally subtle but make a huge difference in terms of comfort and style, such as the added padding to the door panels for added comfort, the reworked instrument panel with a cleaner, less awkward design and much better HVAC controls. Despite being a big step up from 2012, the 2013 Civic's interior is still a step behind class leaders (in roominess and styling). All of these interior and exterior changes were most likely already in the product pipeline as a midcycle refresh, so it will be interesting to see how Honda updates this design in another couple years.
- Starting at $24,360, the Civic Hybrid has about the same premium as most hybrids or diesels in this class, but my fully loaded tester with navigation and leather came out to $27,850. This is still a reasonable price for such a well-equipped car in this market, but for dedicated green-car enthusiasts, it might be a little too close to new plug-in or full-EV models to warrant the price.
- Considering that a Civic Hybrid buyer could have just as easily bought a Civic Si, I'm not going to harp on the Hybrid too much, but the 110-hp engine and the equally buzz-killing CVT don't make for an exciting car. Still, going back to the IMA, the true saving grace of this system is that it doesn't add too much weight. At 2,879 pounds, the Civic Hybrid weighs almost the same as the non-hybrid Civic EX-L. In terms of braking, the weight saving means better performance along with pedal feel that is neither too spongy or frightening.
- A new feature for 2013 is a lane departure warning system that uses a forward-mounted camera to sense the road lines and flash a bright warning on the upper screen if the car swerves out of its lane. Unfortunately, this camera takes up an unusually vast amount of windshield real estate, which was obvious as I was pulling out into traffic on more than one occasion.
- When it comes to the idea of small, fuel-efficient cars, I've always been in the diesel camp, but I also enjoy taking long road trips. Those with regular city commutes should appreciate Civic Hybrid as much for what it brings to the table (excellent fuel economy) as for what it leaves behind (an overly flashy "I'm a hybrid" design). There is no doubt that this refresh has bought the Civic some time to keep pace with other compact cars, but I think that as much that has changed in this segment in the last few years, Honda isn't going to have much breathing room in this segment until the next-gen Civic can get here.
A judge has reversed a lower court ruling against Honda over the automaker's fuel economy claims. Heather Peters successfully sued Honda in small-claims court in February, claiming her 2006 Civic Hybrid didn't return the advertised 50 miles per gallon Environmental Protection Agency rating. Peters was awarded $9,867 in damages in the lawsuit, but now Judge Dudley W. Gray II of the state Superior Court in Torrence, California, has reversed the lower court's ruling.
Honda has offered owners a settlement in a larger class-action suit, paying out either $100 or $200 depending on the vehicle and as much as $1,500 toward the purchase of a new Honda. According to The Detroit News, around 1,700 Honda owners have declined to participate in the class-action suit.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Heather Peters beat Honda. A small claims court in California awarded Ms. Peters $9,867 because it agreed that her Honda Civic Hybrid failed to deliver the 50 mpg EPA rating Honda claimed it would. According to The Detroit News, Honda is appealing the decision, especially after the success of Peters's suit inspired 1,700 others to opt out of a 2003-2009 model year class action settlement, possibly portending a wave of one-shot litigation that the company would have to defend itself against.
Honda didn't seem to take Heather Peters very seriously until it lost, but it now seems that the company is intent on not blowing its last chance to have the case reviewed. Peters will be presenting new evidence and both sides will get to argue their side of the issue to a judge, basically re-trying the initial case.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Heather Peters really, really doesn't want anyone to settle with Honda. Peters is the woman who went her own way earlier this year, suing Honda in small claims court in Torrance, CA instead of joining a class-action lawsuit against the automaker over allegations that the company promoted misleading fuel economy numbers for the Civic Hybrid, model years 2003 to 2009. She was recently awarded $9,867 in damages, significantly more than the $100-$200 the 200,000 Civic Hybrid owners involved in the class action suit are expected to net (their lawyers stand to make $8.5 million). Because of that perceived unfairness, Peters is going in front of Superior Judge Timothy Taylor in San Diego today to ask that the class-action settlement be cancelled.
According to the Associated Press, Peters is using her small claims winnings - which Honda said it will appeal - to prove that the settlement is unfair to the Civic Hybrid owners that had thus far agreed to the deal. Around 1,700 owners decided not to take part in the settlement
The original Civic Hybrid class action case arose out of the claims of John True, who sued Honda in 2007 because, he said, the automaker misled him about the car's fuel economy. When we interviewed him back in 2007, who knew the turns this story would take?
*Update: It appears that extension mentioned above is not indicative of any leanings either way. In fact, in the judge's tentative rulings, he wrote:
The "two other" plaintiffs the judge mentions there are, as noted by Honda's Chris Martin, other Honda Civic Hybrid small claims cases that have taken place this year. There have been five total since January, and Honda has prevailed in all of them except the Peters case. A final ruling is still forthcoming.Permalink | Email this | Comments
[Peters'] reply papers are remarkable for their silence on the lack of success enjoyed by two other small claims plaintiffs. This leaves the court to conclude that Class Counsel are correct in asserting that Peters' demand for access to the fruits of discovery is actually a thinly disguised effort to use the discovered material to assist Peters in ―begin[ning] a cottage industry of representing consumers or selling her $15 CD to them.