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How Honda Civic ECO mode increases fuel economy

Honda ECO mode 101: Does the green ECON button truly increase fuel economy?

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No, it’s not cylinder management as applied to Honda’s 3.5 Liter V6 i-VTEC engine.
We’ve experienced the resulting rather dead peddle in 2016 Honda Accord Touring when opting for ECON mode. And in our drive review of 2016 Accord Touring Coupe, largely ignored the setting in our quest for exceptional engine performance.

In the case of the Honda V6, depending on driving conditions, street surface, highway, etc., engine cylinders can be disengaged at the camshaft via a solenoid, resulting in a rather dead peddle, but greater fuel efficiency. And I should note: Under certain driving conditions, you don’t want to pull a load upgrade on ECON mode.

Looking to the low displacement 4-cylinder engine, ECON works a bit differently

Here’s how ECON saves Civic drivers a few dollars when used in conjunction with the fuel-economy optimization meter front and center on the dash.

By limiting the mid-range depression movement of the drive-by-wire throttle (you can feel it fighting you) ECON mode in Civic limits fuel delivery to the throttle body. At the same time active horsepower draining features such as the air conditioner- cycling changes.

You may note the air conditioning compressor coming on and shutting off more often than usual. In hot weather it is recommended that you don’t run continuously in ECON mode. Your cab temperature will run hotter than usual.

In CVT equipped models and older conventional automatic transmission equipped Civic, ECON mode modifies the shift pattern for fuel efficiency. You may notice this change when driving up a grade at speed. Your Civic will not downshift as readily when compared to selected normal or spot-mode for Civic if so equipped.

Hypermiling not necessary

While we you may love the challenge of wringing as many miles per gallon as possible out of a gallon of gasoline, the practice of neutral-gear-hypermiling is not required in Civic to maximize fuel efficiency. Looking to the display in front of the driver, one will find fuel efficiency guidance bars in the form of an increasing and decreasing color changing light bar.

“Eco Assist” coaching bars when kept in the green, reflect the most fuel efficient driving practice on the road to beating Civics’ segment leading EPA combined MPG rating of 33 on regular gasoline.

Need I say it? Fuel economy will vary depending on road condition, driving terrain, region, weather, the average temperature, time of day, blend of gasoline, etc... But, I’ve seen 40 + MPG while driving on the highway in low wind conditions. What’s your best Civic fuel economy to date?

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Jeff Kaiman (not verified)    April 30, 2016 - 6:21PM

I purchased a 2016 Civic touring turbo in November 2015. I primarily use the car to commute 50 kms each way to work, approx 45kms being highway. I usually set the cruise for 120 to 125 km/hr. Now that the car has approx 10000 kms it was averaging about 7l/100 kms. I was quite pleased with this and would get about 600 kms to a tank. I tried switching on the ECON mode for the first time a week ago, I am now getting about 6.4l/100 kms and no noticable difference in performance on the highway. what I have noticed is a reduction in initial turbo lag then turbo lunge when leaving a stop light. It seems to have a little more even torque curve and although not leaving an intersection as quickly, it does make it more enjoyable for just regular driving. I have read comments about the ECON effect in regular non turbo cars buit nothing from other turbo drivers. My wife drives a 2015 CRV touring and I am anxious to see the effect the next time I drive her car
Jeff Kaiman

Pete J (not verified)    August 10, 2016 - 5:48PM

In reply to by Jeff Kaiman (not verified)

We purchased our 2016 Honda Civic Turbo in June 2016 and immediately took it on a trip (US) from Albany, NY to Omaha, NB to Milwaukee, WI and back home to Albany. Roughly 3,000 miles.
We averaged over 42 mpg for the entire trip with the cruise set between 70 and 75 a lot of the time. We are currently getting 40 - 42 mpg around town. The Turbo is great. When you need it, it will really get down and bogey. Quicker response is definitely noted with the ECON off. It would would be nice to know what the ECON button really does.

Parks McCants    August 10, 2016 - 7:35PM

Welcome Pete. What the Econ does in a 4 cylinder engine is adjust the throttle response,(you'll note a "dead" throttle peddle, and lower the fan speeds on the air conditioner, and, in some cases disengage certain belt driven auxiliary units such as the alternator( Mazda) to reduce engine loads. It's a matter of "combined fuel efficiency."

Guilbert brotons (not verified)    August 19, 2016 - 5:53PM

Have Honda Accord 2013lx have hesitation on stop sign and intersection when I put the Econ jut on as well as Ac too

Jim Peltier (not verified)    October 13, 2016 - 9:28PM

Just bought a new Civic LX in Southern British Columbia Canada. The speed limit in my part of the province is 80 kph (50mph to Americans) Just made a one hour trip with the Econ button engaged and got
4.8 l / 100km. About the same as my 2006 Hybrid got.