Are Hybrids Worth the Money?

Have you heard about the Honda owner that sued the car maker because she did not experience the promised gas mileage for her Hybrid Civic Sedan. Here is a clip from Automobile Magazine that describes it:
Heather Peters made headlines last month when she took American Honda to California Small Claims Court. She accused the automaker of making false claims in regards to the fuel economy of her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. And she won.

According to, Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan yesterday ruled in Peter’s favor, and awarded her $9867. Peters originally sought the $10,000 maximum allowed in a California small claim court ruling to make up for the extra costs she allegedly spent on fuel. She bought her Civic when it was advertised to achieve up to 50 mpg. Since then, a number of issues — reportedly stemming from a faulty battery — have caused her vehicle to rely more on the gasoline engine, which in turn has lowered her average fuel economy to no more than 30 mpg.

“It is a victory for Civic Hybrid owners and consumers everywhere,” Peters said.
“Sometimes big justice comes in small packages.”
Wonder if other non-Honda Hybrid owners have similar experiences? Makes you think twice about going green.

The news also got me to thinking about the promised gas mileage of the cars that I have purchased. Makes me wonder if I should have taken the mileage claims a bit more serious. I know that my city mileage has always been pretty bad.

Have you ever experienced a wide disparity in the promised and experienced mileage figures?


  1. Hmmm... first, it looks like she had a faulty car. Secondly, this is not a victory for Honda owners everywhere like the woman in the story said. It's not a class action suit. It's a victory for her.

    I've always bought gasoline cars, never a hybrid. And, I understand that actual gas mileage varies widely based on driving conditions. In traditional cars, you expect to get much better highway mileage than city mileage. If you drive a hybrid exclusively on the highway for example, it's not going to get a much higher MPG than the same gasoline powered car because you're not capturing the energy from braking. If I were a commuter or doing a lot of driving in the city, I'd consider a hybrid. Given that I drive very little the extra expense of the hybrid isn't worth it.

    1. Agree Brian. Hybrids are probably not right for many folks. I doubt that they will ever make a hybrid rampvan.

  2. I get better gas mileage than the sticker estimates on my Prius. The government changed the mileage testing protocols not too long ago in order to better reflect real-world driving. With less gaming of the results, most cars dropped in expected MPG.

    With the Prius, I expected net savings with better mileage (compared to other models I was considering) after about 5-6 years. That's turning out to be about right. Now, if one compared it against the Honda Fit, the time to balance would've been about a decade. But for me the Prius is in a different class.

    My commute is about 35 miles roundtrip on backroads with speeds in the 30-45 MPH range. That's a sweet spot for this hybrid and I get about 55-58 MPG with this route most of the year.

    Straight-out highway driving yields about 42-46 MPG and I've got a lead-foot. I find that running the air conditioner doesn't affect mileage much. I haven't noticed any drop in MPG. It's so efficient that I don't mind waiting inside the car on hot days with the AC on. The engine only turns on for a few minutes about every 10 minutes under those conditions.

    The Honda Civic hybrids don't have quite the same MPG as the Prius but something is definitely at fault if she only got 30 MPG (like a bad battery or absolutely terrible driving habits).

    Hybrid technology is pretty-well established by now. I'd wait a few more years for all-electric vehicles (but they'd be perfect for my commute).

    1. Thanks for sharing your hybrid experiences Argon. Sounds like you are very happy with the Prius.

  3. I have a Prius too. I love it. Overall for the last 7000 miles we've averaged about 43 mpg. 75% of that is city driving. (The vehicle has about 31000 miles on On a trip we get about 50 mpg. I also like the fact that the engine shuts off at stops....not continuing to spew exhaust into the air. It was Keith's idea to buy the Prius. We have a 2010 Prius. It was about 25,000 which really is not that much over a comparable new gasoline engine car. We got the "middle" model. Not the cheapest and not the one with the most options. The one in the middle.

    And for those naysayers who are skeptical about the technology...check out this article about consumer report who tested a 2002 Prius with over 200,000 miles on it.

    Excerpt follows:

    They found that there was very little difference in battery performance, fuel economy and acceleration in the used '02 model when compared to a nearly identical 2001 Prius they tested 10 years ago when it was new.


    1. Thanks Cindi! It is so great to get actual feedback from hybrid owners.


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