Civic Hybrid vs Prius a matter of style and brand loyalty
There’s no arguing the fact that the Toyota Prius is the mass manufactured hybrid that first captured the imagination of the driving public. Although an absolute dog when it came to off the line performance, the little hatchback offered 40+ mpg on regular gasoline while seating 5 (small) adults in relative comfort.
But, it isn't the only player on the field and Honda delivered a small but viable “Insight” to the public first; years before Toyota’s introduction of the Prius. Tuesday found American Honda Motors releasing price and EPA data for the 2014 Civic. This information compelled me to compare the two Hybrids as Honda contemplates the death of the Insight.
The question... Which car offers the most value for your dollar spent?
For the Honda loyal, Civic is the logical replacement for the undersold and under-powered original modern Hybrid. We're not finding promotion coming from Honda as to a new and improved 2015 Insight. Many in the industry believe that the Insight will go the way of the Prelude.
As to the Prius design, either you like a hatchback or you don’t. It doesn't come in a coupe or sedan configuration. This is where Honda enters the competition with the 2014 Civic Hybrid.
For those that prefer the conventional look and driving characteristics of a sedan, the Civic or Accord Hybrid may be the Eco- answer for you.
While Honda and Toyota’s engineering approach to achieving unprecedented fuel economy varies, it appears that the Honda Civic offers a handful of standard features that the Toyota does not. Of-course this is underplayed by Toyota in their side by side comparison of the two vehicles.
For those wishing to squeeze every mile out of their gas dollar, Toyota wins the average mpg contest.
While Honda rates the Civic Hybrid @ 44/44, the standard Prius claims 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway. These numbers indicate that the Toyota runs in the electric motor or regenerative brake mode a greater percentage of road time than the Civic does. Toyota’s a bit tight lipped about how they do this. Part of the equation is the under 3,000 lb weight of the Prius, body aerodynamics, hard tire compounds and engine fuel management.
Looking to Honda’s Eco-assist propulsion platform we find that a secondary electric “helper” motor attached to the CVT transmission assists a very small 110 hp 1.5 liter SOHC i-VTEC 4 cylinder engine, producing adequate yet less than impressive torque. Neither car is known for stellar performance. For that you can upgrade to the Accord or Tesla S.
None the less, the owners of the Civic Hybrid as well as the Prius that I've questioned express an undying love for their chosen brand. Where I find the greatest value for the dollar is when we compare the fully loaded Civic Hybrid leather interior with navigation against the Prius 4 or 5.
We find that the “big” Prius 5’s mpg falls to 40 city and costs no less than $3,000 more than the loaded Civic. But then again, the current Civic doesn't offer the utility of a hatchback. To go there in a Honda one may wish to consider the Hybrid C.R.-V.
Several of my associates drive a Prius. They like the car for its utility and great mileage. The most common complaint is a general lack of passing and grade speed on the Freeway. While the Civic is not comparable to a Honda CR-Z Hybrid Coupe in performance, it does hold its own in city and Highway traffic.
The Eco-assist is effective during high speed Highway passing, and grade down sifts. Although you won't sense much acceleration change through the CVT transmission. And, while I do find the overall ride of the Civic to be a bit stiff, I like the handling as well as the fit and finish of the affordable Honda Hybrid. However, with 4 Prius models plus the tiny Prius “C” to chose from, #1 Toyota is not handing the Hybrid title to Honda any time in the near future.