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May 20th, 2002

Hybrids Ahoy!

A few years ago, Honda came out with the Insight: a hybrid vehicle that got stellar gas mileage, good reviews, and sat a whopping two people. The car itself looked a little funky, but owners enjoyed them. Shortly after the Insight, Toyota released the Prius. The Prius was the first hybrid car that caught my attention, because although it too looks a little funky, it seats 4 people, has a real stereo and A/C system, and feels like a “normal” car inside. Both cars sell for around $21,000 new.

Then, Honda came back with the 2003 Civic Hybrid. I sat in one at the Chicago Auto Show and had no idea I was in a hybrid at all. The badging and hybrid-ness of the car? Minimal. Unless people know their Honda grilles, they won’t know it’s running on half gas and half electricity. It’s a comfortable car, too – it feels like a traditional Civic inside. The amenities are pure Honda – simple, easy-to-reach controls, nice looking interior, good legroom, and so on. Only you will know that it gets 46mpg on the highway and 51 in the city.

Given that not everyone can totally give up their cars, I applaud Honda and Toyota for at least offering a better alternative. All three of these vehicles are incredibly low on emissions, high on mileage, and reasonable on price – all are in the low $20s. While not everyone can afford that today, it’s smack dab in the “average price” range for new cars in America. As the technology gets cheaper and better, hybrids will gently usher in the idea that moving to alternative fuel sources doesn’t have to hurt, or signify that people are any less “American”.

Posted in Cars

Hjalmar Hautela March 31, 2007, 11:45 pm

The New York City Taxi and Limo Commission just approved the use of hybrids for taxis. Any hybrid with four doors is ok. Imagine paying NY taxi rates and riding in a hybrid Civic. The commish issued permits just for hybrids at a slight discount. Every time they put on something besides the Checker/Impala/big Dodge/Crown Vic the cars last only a short while. For awhile the Honda minivan was everywhere and now nobody has them. Worse were the French diesel sedans which put the cab companies in Philadelphia into bankruptcy. I have driven the Honda Civic with the basic gas engine and hated it after just a block. I normally drive a Merc GM and love the reliability and ride. I get 25 mph but I fill it with people and luggage so I use the same amount of fuel to move stuff as a hybrid. Best thing would be to get the huge suv’s off the road. My car has traction control and does not get stuck in snow. Just get traction control.

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