I am hopeful that this communique will share some useful impressions with prospective purchasers of the new 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid.
I have been an auto buff since my first car (a 1937 Lafayette) purchased right after WWII. Since then I have owned approximately thirty cars including my 2005 Element and my new, just delivered, 2006 HCH (Opal Blue). My ownership has included a bevy of VW's, diesel Mercedes, Cadillacs, Beetles, and a bunch of nondescripts.
Based on my first impressions of the NCH, I am inclined to say this is the best automobile I have owned! Now, my disclaimer is I've only put on several hundred miles. I am basing this "first blush" impression on the following observations:
1. Finish, fit, and ergonomics. The interior is wonderful. Instrumentation is superior, perhaps too fascinating with all the info being fed back to the driver about engine performance and fuel mileage. Lots of room in the back seat, for sure! I am hopeful that the instrumentation will become passe in time; but, for now, it sure makes one aware of his driving habits; which is good! I feel it is a very nice looking automobile; a far cry above the "clunky" appearing Prius.
2. Nice stuff including the stereo system, interior color scheme (Opal Blue has the Ivory color). Honda has done a nice job of coordinating the interior color balance. The fabric appears to be "bulletproof." The climate control system is very user friendly and a great feature on a car in this price range. Two trip odometers with corresponding mpg gauges is good to have. The blue/red/LCD readouts on the instrumentation is terrific and the eye-level digital speedometer, in addition to being a safety feature, will be copied, I am sure, by many other manufacturers in the future.
3. Ride, speed, power, and handling are each in the excellent range. The quietness of car is a little disconcerting, particularly when stopped in traffic.
I had been apprehensive about the engine shutting down at stops. Not a problem, for the restart is almost inperceptible. The notion that HCH are "slow" is a myth. Pickup and cruising speed are certainly adequate and especially smooth. Handling is best described as "Lexus-like," i.e. what would be expected in a smooth, luxurious sedan.
4. Special mention needs to be made regarding the CVT transmission. It is a marvel in its smoothness.
5. The Honda sideview mirrors eliminate blindspots, so there is no need to add "fisheyes."
6. Since I drove it off the dealer's lot, I am averaging in the mid fifties for fuel useage. Granted, this is only for several hundred miles; but it includes some highway speeds (70+), lots of town speed (35mph), and some moderate 50 mph rates. This is taking place in southwest Florida with warm temps and no hills.
It seems to me that many contributors to this site are overly concerned with "hyper mileage" and should be pleased with the EPA estimates which are extraordinary in and of themselves (49/51).
7. Safety features of the HCH are reassuring: latest airbag technology and ACE engineering of the frame are also comforting. Good for Honda for including daytime running lights!
8. For an "Old Coot" as I, the high tech stuff will probably become less fascinating as time progresses. For now it is wonderful. One of the curious things to me is the lack of an oil/filter change recommendation. The notion of a "percentage of oil life" readout will be curious with which to deal for a guy who had always done his own maintenance on a strict mileage schedule!
So, in a word, my new HCH is "great!" What's not to like, especially the IRS tax reduction in 2006.
I cannot agree with you more on your initial impressions as they echo my own. While you alluded to it in your first bullet, I am so impressed with the quality and fit of the doors when they are shut - a very solid "Thud".
When it comes to fuel economy, I wish I lived in a less hilly terrain, as over the nearly 200 miles I have put on my '06 in the last week, since I took delivery, I am currently at about 40 MPG (as high as 47 on the way home from the dealer), which I don't think is too bad, since many of the miles are put on going to and from work (heavy traffic, cool Pennsylvania mornings, limited auto-stops until I am about half way to work or half way home, etc).
I am also very excited that my wife (competitive by nature) is sharing in my quest to get the highest mileage. I must admit she is currently leading me!
Very nice writeup, thanks!
I wish the Prius would have an oil change monitor / indicator. For an otherwise very green car, having fossil oil and fixed change intervals (of only 5,000 miles at that!!!) is positively stone-age, and not at all environmentally friendly. My old Subaru without any fancies had a 7.5k change interval, and my MINI Cooper S with monitoring went 12k for the first and then 15-18k miles for successive changes on synthetic oil. Over the life of a car, that is a very significant difference in oil consumption.
Toyota, can you please change this?
Kudos to Honda for being on top of this!
And of course, congrats Chukbug on your fantastic car!
I thoroughly enjoyed your post on the 06 HCH. I share many of your thouhts and feeling about this car! Even though I have had many Honda's/Acura's in the past, this has to be the most solidly built one I have had to date.