I’m fast coming up on the one year anniversary with my Civic Hybrid. I’m also pushing 27,000 miles. Like many hybrids, my gas mileage has continued to improve as I’ve gotten better at being a smooth drive. I don’t zoom to get into lanes and I anticipate lights changing. I drive about seventy percent of the time on cruise control. That means that I average about 44mpg or 5.25 l/100Km. I’ve also kept records of fuel consumed and miles driven. But those things have nothing to do with my question.
All Civic Hybrids are labeled as PZEV, Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle. I have tried to figure out why. The engine runs the entire time that the car is moving but turns itself off under certain conditions when it’s at a stop. So, any time that the engine is running, it’s emitting and the only time that it’s not emitting is when it’s stopped and the engine is stopped. I may be splitting hairs but that seems more like a ZEVWS, Zero-Emission Vehicle When Stopped. And all cars could fall into that category just by killing their engine at lights. This also has nothing to do with my question.
After almost a year of driving primarily the same route (to and from work) most days of the week, I’ve noticed something a little queer. I drive a lot with my cruise on and try to go just a little slower than the traffic around me so that I don’t have to brake as much when I start to come up on traffic. This gives me the chance to cruise around for a long stretch at a steady speed. I’ve also got the benefit of a mpg-o-meter that gives instant and constant feedback on my driving habits. I’ve also got a transmission that is CVT; a Continuous Velocity Transmission. There are no gears to fiddle with or get in the way of my engine coasting along at the best rpm’s for my speed. My car’s computer tells my electric motor to help out my gas motor to keep the engine running at the best rpm’s to give me the best fuel economy that I can achieve. So why is it that I consistently get the best gas mileage when I am doing 65? It’s even more complicated. By every measure I can figure, I get better mileage when I’m doing 50 than I do at either 40 or 60.
It’s all just picking nits. We got back from our 2000 mile trip around New Mexico at the beginning of September and I calculated my mpg. I had self-imposed a speed limit of 65. To backtrack, last Thanksgiving when we went to Albuquerque, it was rainy and cold and I was for the most part driving uphill against a 30mph surface wind. I got the worst mpg rating I had ever read about for the Civic Hybrid; 36. This past trip, we averaged 50mpg over six days there and back and around town(s). ‘Nuff said.