Comparing Hybrid Cars, the Honda Civic Came Out on Top for My Dad

Buying a car any time is a big financial outlay. In this era of penny pinching and fuel scarcity, it's particularly important to consider not just a functional car but one that gets great gas mileage. What choices do you have that won’t break the bank? Big Green Purse intern Rachel Haas filed this report:

"What's the most fuel-efficient car I can buy to meet my commuting needs?" That’s the question my father asked recently after he passed his used car on to me and began looking for a small or mid-sized vehicle for himself. We decided to go on the hunt together, with our primary criteria being that the vehicle should be affordable, a hybrid if possible, and highly fuel efficient—achieving an average of at least 40 miles per gallon.  

Only three vehicles fit the bill:

HONDA

 Insight-Hybrid-LrgGal01 Insight:
MPG: Estimated mileage of 40/43 city/highway, average of 42 mpg
FUEL ECONOMY: With gas prices around $2.60, the annual fuel cost amounts to around $929. You can make calculations for your own region by finding local fuel prices at GasBuddy.com and using the chart at fueleconomy.gov.
COST: The Insight EX with navigation (a GPS system) has a ticket price of $23,100. NOTE: Because it’s a brand-new model, dealerships are less willing to negotiate on price.
SPACE:  Overall smaller interior space than the Civic Hybrid, but as a hatchback, the Insight can fit almost three times as much cargo with the seats folded down, 31.5 cubic feet.

Civic Hybrid:
MPG: estimated mileage of 40/45 city/highway, estimated average of 42 mpg
FUEL ECONOMY:  same annual fuel cost as the Insight
COST: The Civic Hybrid with navigation has a ticket price of $25,650, plus the option of leather seats (unlike the Insight) for an additional $1,200.  We were able to negotiate the price of the Civic Hybrid with navigation and leather to about $22,700. 
SPACE: The interior space is slightly larger than the Insight, but the cargo space is significantly smaller, only 10.4 cubic feet. 

TOYOTA

Prius 3rd Generation Prius:
MPG: Delivers the best mileage and power of any hybrid on the road today with an estimated mileage of 51/48 city/highway, estimated average of 50 mpg
FUEL ECONOMY:  The annual fuel cost is about $780
COST:  The 2010 Prius with leather and navigation has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of  $28,350. Like with the Honda Insight,  dealerships are less willing to significantly lower the price of this brand-new model.
SPACE:  The Prius has more interior space than the Civic Hybrid, especially in the backseat, with an inch and half more leg room.  The Prius also beats the Civic Hybrid in cargo space, with 21.6 cubic feet.
ADDED BONUS:  You can buy the 3rd generation Prius with a solar roof.  Why is that so cool?  The solar roof literally cools the car by using the sun’s energy to power an air circulation fan, eliminating the need for owners to blast their air conditioning in the hot summers.  Unfortunately, the solar roof adds about $1,800 to the ticket price. 

Rachel h After test driving all three vehicles and comparing both fuel efficiency and price, my dad happily settled on the Honda Civic Hybrid (left). He opted for a slightly roomier interior over more cargo space, since he doesn't need to transport much in his car. Both price and mpg met his critera. Plus, he likes the way it drives. "This car has a lot of pep!" he says.

NOTE: You don’t have to be in the market for a new car to improve fuel efficiency when you drive. Getting a tune up on the vehicle you currently drive will improve fuel efficiency by 4%. Pumping up your tires to the proper PSI (pounds per square inch) will get you another 3.3% improvement in your MPG. Or skip owning a car altogether for “wheels when you want them” via ZipCar. Here are more ways to beat the high price of gas.

Looking for a different car? Check fuel efficiency ratings for all vehicles at fueleconomy.gov.

Interested in a mid-size, highly fuel-efficient family car? Stay tuned for our review of the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

21 Responses to Comparing Hybrid Cars, the Honda Civic Came Out on Top for My Dad

  1. Diane MacEachern June 11, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks, Kate. I agree – that solar roof is a great idea. I’m hoping to do a test drive on that one soon.

  2. Alameda County Auction June 25, 2009 at 11:43 pm #

    Look at that sports car! Looks really great, and pricey, too! Want to know where to find great looking sports cars at affordable prices?? Check out http://www.acauction.com

  3. Alameda County Auction June 25, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

    Look at that sports car! Looks really great, and pricey, too! Want to know where to find great looking sports cars at affordable prices?? Check out http://www.acauction.com

  4. Anna Lee June 30, 2009 at 11:34 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your love for cars. Hey, our site offers car auctions every month. Choose from economy down to luxury with very affordable prices. If you have time, please feel free to visit our site at http://acauction.com Thanks. Yours sincerely, Alameda County Car Auction.

  5. Anna Lee July 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your love for cars. Hey, our site offers car auctions every month. Choose from economy down to luxury with very affordable prices. If you have time, please feel free to visit our site at http://acauction.com Thanks. Yours sincerely, Alameda County Car Auction.

  6. recker August 9, 2009 at 7:45 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your love for cars and mine too thats why I sell them at http://www.ubid4it.org Come and signup.

  7. Ganhar Dinheiro November 18, 2009 at 7:38 am #

    Excellent article, I liked a lot. Success!

  8. Dinheiro November 25, 2009 at 7:21 am #

    Nice post! These cars are really fantastic!

  9. 2recker December 14, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    Why is it that I am drawn to these new cars when I love a the oldies.

  10. Diane MacEachern April 12, 2010 at 3:23 am #

    Good observations. It is reassuring to see the demand for smaller vehicles on the upswing.

  11. solar roof tiles August 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Glad your dad found one that he likes. The solar roof on the Prius is laughable in it’s price per functunality, if it was included that’d be a different story but at $1,800, it’s down-right ridiculous.

  12. garage equipment April 6, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    A hybrid car is a one that uses more than one energy source to power the car. A gasoline engine and an electric battery run it. These are what we now know as the Gas Electric Hybrid Cars.

  13. plumbing April 22, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Awesome cars! I love that different manufacturers also produce their own hybrid cars which is really helpful in promoting a clean fuel generation. In addition, hybrid cars combine clean energy of the electrical motor with the power of the gas-powered engine which results into lower emissions and better mileage.

  14. Como Ganhar Dinheiro May 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Nice post! I liked a lot. Success!
    Thanks…

  15. gestão e administração December 16, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    I still prefer the bike most of the time. Good exercise and less pollution. When buying my car, buy one less polluting fuel here since these cars are great cars and are not available.
    __
    http://administracaogestao.blogspot.com/

  16. Used Cars for Sale May 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    I agree that fuel efficiency and financial savings are one of the biggest factors for most people when buying a car. No one wants to pay a lot for gas.

  17. Ernest Houston July 12, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    The thing that I like about the Prius is that it just suits the name hybrid car with its solar roof. While other cars use braking to regenerate the energy of the battery, the Prius makes use of solar power harnessed by the solar roof. In these days when gas prices are soaring, fuel-efficiency is the most important aspect to look for in a car, and that’s what the Prius offers.

  18. Naomi Champy July 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    I agree with you, Ernest. That solar-powered Prius is definitely perfect if you want to save money on gas. Gas prices are soaring high these days, and that Prius might just save you a couple of dollars, since it’ll run longer because of the solar energy. I think it’s one of the perfect cars to bring on a fun road trip this summer.

  19. Cody September 19, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Looks like my comment was somehow deleted but it seems that some people have success in increasing their fuel efficiency by lowering their center of gravity with coilover suspensions like the one included in the link below.
    http://www.racelandus.com/coilovers/honda-coilover-kits/honda-civic-eg-ek-crx-coilover-kit.html

  20. tyres October 31, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    It feels awesome to read such informative and unique articles on your websites.

  21. Como Ganhar Dinheiro na Internet September 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    Great tip, very useful for me, thank you!

    hug!

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