With gas prices having risen to the rate that they have, it has become very important to find a car which offers intelligent gas mileage. Thankfully, hybrid cars, cars with run on a combination of gasoline and electric motors are now readily available and as affordable, if not more affordable, than any other car on the market. However, just because hybrid cars are now so readily available does not mean that all hybrid cars are the same. Just as buying any other car, it becomes important to compare and contrast different car models and determine which one is really the best deal for the money.
Although there are certainly a wide range of hybrid vehicles out now, two of the most popular and best selling cars are the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius hybrid. While these two cars are very similar in a lot of ways, including price, they are not the same car, and it helps consumers greatly to know what exactly they are buying when they get to the dealer’s lot.
As mentioned before, both cars boast comparable sales numbers, and with only about a thousand dollars or so in price difference, much of the choice really falls to the opinion of the consumer. However, there are a few key differences between the cars, and, for concerned buyers, those couple differences could mean which car is going off the lot and which one is staying behind.
Perhaps the most noticeable and most important difference between the two cars is the engine and drive train which powers them. While both cars do use a combination gasoline and electric motor for power, the Prius uses a slightly larger motor. While the difference is tiny, it does impact the way in which the cars drive. According to factory specifications, both vehicles put out 110 horse power. To do this, the Civic Hybrid uses a 1.3 liter motor, while the Prius uses a 1.5 liter. Despite the Prius’ larger engine, though, it just does not seem to have the capacity of the Civic, which weaves through traffic and provides enough boosts of power to move the car at a fairly good rate. Not that the Prius is slow, bu the Civic just seems to have a little bit more juice in it.
The other major difference between the Civic and the Prius is the transmission style. Both cars do not use traditional transmissions, and instead rely on new technologies for putting the engine power to the wheels. The Civic uses a brand new technology known as a “continuously variable transmission”. This is similar to the concept of an engine with variable valve timing. The transmission is in constant operation to detect the proper gearing to use, meaning that there is no pause between gears, and the CVT works like a dream, it knows when to cut solely to the electric motor, and it also does a remarkable job of keeping the car in the right RPM ranges for optimum fuel mileage.
The Prius uses a similar technology, and the function is basically the same. Although not an actual variable transmission, the split gear box of the Prius performs the same tasks of cutting out the electric motor and smoothly shifting the car. Strangely, while the systems are very similar, the Prius seems to offer smoother transitions, and the engagement of the electric motor is a lot more effective, likely due in part to the larger engine size of the vehicle.
In terms of outward and inward appearance, consumers will likely have to make their own decisions. However, be warned that one of the most common complaints regarding the Prius is the lack of interior room and the numerous blind spots that seem to attack the driver (this is especially noticeable when trying to look out of the strangely tilted rear hatch). In the opinion of many, the Civic Hybrid also seems to offer amore modern interior, although, once again, there are no actual qualifications as to what makes an interior or exterior look better.
Some things can be said for certain though. Both cars are comfortable, excellent on gas mileage, exist in the same price range, and are strangely fun to drive. Whichever car consumers end up choosing, it is unlikely that they will be disappointed with their fuel friendly hybrid car, and the many savings and advantages that it brings with it. So, happy shopping, and hopefully a test drive or two in each car will sort out the few differences and leave one knowing which hybrid is truly the better buy.