we're getting ready to buy a hybrid, and are going between the HCH and the prius. i drive ~70 miles a day on LA freeways in a BMW 3 series and would like to get some better mileage and take advantage of the HOV lane when i'm solo. will the 2006 HCH be eligable for the HOV stickers in CA? also, i've seen people saying that the HCH is better for highway driving and the prius is better for stop-and-go traffic. since LA freeway driving is a frustrating mix of both, it leaves me confused as to which car would be more efficient. at this point i'm leaning more towards the 2005 HCH because it is manual and i don't like driving automatics, but if the 2006 is really cool i might be willing to give up my stick-shifting ways. the tax credit sounds great, but that HOV sticker is way more important to me and i'd hate to wait until 2006 and then find out that either the 2006 HCH is ineligable or that they've reached their limit.
As for highway Prius vs. Civic, many have found the Prius to handle better (MPG wise) at 70+ mph, and overall will generally get better fuel efficiency than the Civic, and that's especially true if you decide to hypermile, as the recent 110 MPG marathon proves.
The 2006 should be eligible for the sticker as long as they keep the emissions rating. I haven't seen definitive evidence on the emissions yet, it would be nice if they would just make all the HCH's PZEV like the Prius, but they should at least still offer it in clean states.
___Not that this will help but you do know about the tax law changes and the 06 credit vs. 05 and before deduction available for an 06 hybrid purchaser, right? If you can hold out for another 4 months, it will be worth your time and effort. Not only will you have a much better idea as to which automobile might be the right one for you, you will have that much more money heading back into your pocket!
I own a '03 hch and a '05 prius, so I may be able to help with two out of three questions.
When I must venture to northern virginia, I take the prius over the HCH now. While I think the HCH can get close to the same milage, you give up AC when you're stopped. The HCH is pretty sensitive to the milage hit you take when going over 65.
If you buy package #6 with the bluetooth and nav system on the prius, you've got yourself quite the urban assult vehicle. The nav system has the ability to identify traffic jams on the map and the system will get you around the jam. The bluetooth connection works great for me to stay focused on the road while having a call.
Have owned both. Prius has more gadgets. HCH is more "normal" and certainly easier with parking attendants. Also HCH has better visibility when backing up. I also was dissappointed with the cloth seats in the Prius. They pilled easily and where not of the quality of the HCH. I think it is near a toss up.
I am currently looking to trade in my 2005 Ford Escape for a 2006 Civic Hybrid. The Prius is nice and has lots of gadgets but the dealers here still think their @#@! doesn't stink so I won't even consider them. We currently have a 2005 HCH and not only love the car; we love the service and the dealer. With the new IMA in the 2006 Civic, I don't believe there are any technical differences (the 2006 will have the Navi and Bluetooth options available as well as the A/C staying on at stop lights).
The only advantage to the Prius is the rear seat folds down which give you a much larger available cargo area. It would be nice but I still like the HCH package more and am willing to sacrifice a few cubic feet of cargo area.
From my understanding, the Prius is better at stop and go traffic in comparison to the 2005 Civic Hybrid due to the differences in their hybrid power trains. Basically, the Prius has the 'idle stop' feature like the Civic (when you stop for a period of time, and the environmental controls are set to 'off' or 'econ' the internal combustion engine turns off). In the Civic hybrid, the ICE will restart when you take your foot off the brake and accelerate. However, the Prius is different in that instead of the ICE (the gas engine) restarting, the electric motor is able to propel the car forward, sometimes up to speeds of around 30-40 mph. The Civic (2005 model) cannot do this. It gets its best mileage on the highway, at constant speeds.
Apparently the 2006 model of the Civic hybrid will address this, and be able to drive for a bit using only the electric motor (when running on electricity only, you obviously don't burn fuel). It sounds as if the 2006 model will be more comprable in terms of the drive train to the Prius than the current Civic incarnation. As for your HOV questions, I can only speculate that it will probably be eligable. To my knowledge, the current Civic Hybrid is eligible, and the 2006 will be more efficient, and have better emissions controls. If I am wrong about any of this, perhaps somebody can let the both of us know. Hope this helps!
I am looking at the 2006 Civic (want the tax credit and can make it a few months even at $5 a gallon without breaking my wallet). I like the looks, the fact that it gets slightly better EPA fuel economy and is a little larger than previous years.
I do a lot of go to 35-40 stop at a light, go to 30-40 stop at a light, you know in town driving (not bumper to bumper). I have seen a few of the Prius and don't like the design.
Out of the 3 Honda dealerships in my area, 1 didn't answer my email with questions about the 2006, 1 told me I would get a bigger tax break buying a 2005 this year and he could have one in 2 weeks, and 1 actually answered my questions and looks forward to my business next year. Which one do you think I'm going to call? My credit union also gives me a $500 discount if I buy through this dealership. I thought that the first Honda dealership ever in Texas (First Texas Honda) would be the best as far as customer service, but I was wrong.
Anyway, can't wait until November when some arrive here (according to the dealer) and I can test drive and see in person.