Honda Civic – Miles Per Gallon, Both Then And Now.


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Today’s brand-new Honda Civic is an amazing car to buy if you are looking for a non-hybrid, well-made, high-MPG automobile. I owned a 1994 Honda Civic that lasted 8 years and 150,000 miles before it started having any problems at all, and looking back I never should have gotten rid of it. But I was thinking about it the other day and remembering how well it did on gas – that car got well over 30 MPG on the highway, which is more than most cars get nowadays…and it was 14 years ago!

The 1987 Honda Civic HF got an estimated 57 MPG (51 under today’s guidelines) – more than even the best hybrid averages today. A friend of mine had one and it was a great car. Why? We want bigger cars, and Honda (and other manufacturers) cannot find a market for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. When the smallest car that most people are willing to drive is a 4 door Civic or Prius, with all of today’s safety features, it’s no wonder that gas mileage has suffered. From power everything to 12 airbags to enough trunk to haul around 10 bags of Cheetos, American’s want bigger cars…and are paying at the pump. The 1987 Civic was quick, stylish, and made a great commuter car – which is what most people use their cars for anyway. How often do you travel with more passengers than just yourself? A small, two-seater car like this would be great today, with gas prices approaching $5.00 per gallon. Granted, back in 1987 not everyone and their grandmother drove a hulking SUV to the grocery store, but still…we could do with smaller cars that get better mileage, even without having the advantage of hybrid technology. That is until they can get the plug-in, solar-powered hybrid cars up and running.

The 2008 base Honda Civic gets an estimated 25MPG city/36MPG higway – a far cry from the Civic of 20 years ago. Granted, the cars are safer (they have to be, with all the traffic and trucks on the road), have more bells and whistles, and can carry more people – but the gas mileage has been cut in half to get it to that point. I am sure today’s Honda Civics are incredibly well-made and will last forever, but with gas mileage averaging about 30 MPG, it’s not much better than my AWD Subaru Forester…which is a shame. If you are going to buy a small, economical car you should be getting amazing gas mileage, but compared to the Honda’s of the past, you are no longer getting it. And to buy the hybrid version will cost you an extra $8500 or so…which is a huge jump in price for someone looking for an economical car.

So sure, our cars are safer (they have to be), heavier, bigger, they have power windows/doors/brakes/steering/trunks, and they are probably better made. But with all those improvements, our possible MPG has been cut in half. And with today’s oil & gas prices, that is a big drop to deal with! Imagine if your car was getting double it’s current mileage and you didn’t have to own a hybrid to get it to that level…that would be both a big savings for your wallet and a big cut in our oil consumption. I think it is time for both us consumers and the manufacturers to start deciding on what is really important in today’s automobiles and start implementing just those features, while at the same time working on hybrid/solar/battery technology. There has to be a way to be able to own and use the features of an automobile that we truly need (cause let’s be honest – people will not give them up until the last drop of oil is gone) while working on new technology to get us to the next level. We know we can get double the mileage we are getting currently; it is just going to take some thinking and possibly some sacrifice to get us back to those levels.

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  1. My husband and I have been discussing a lot lately how ridiculous it is that current cars make such a big deal of getting gas mileage that used to be easy to get. We’ve been getting by sharing a 3 door Saturn, but with a new baby coming that’s not going to work. Drives us nuts that we’ll probably have to settle for worse gas mileage than the cars we each drove in college.

    And I’ve long since agreed with my mother’s opinion – power windows, locks, etc. just means one more thing to have break on the car.

  2. You hit the nail on the head.

    recently, i wrote Honda corporate HQ about this very issue. That is, the fact that my 9-yr-old Civic gets just as good gas mileage as the 2008s! It’s rated by EPA as getting 29/35 but becus i drive without rabbit starts or at high rates of speed, i generally get about 37 miles per gallon; on the highway going down to my dad’s this summer, i got 42 mpg!

    Sadly, fuel efficiency went by the wayside since our last gas crunch of the 70s. Are you old enough to remember the gas lines and fuel siphoning?

    Anyway, i thought your reference to the Honda Civic HF was perhaps a typo and that you meant to say “HX,” which is what i have. I looked it up and you’re right, what stupendous mileage it got.

    Why pay for a pricey hybrid if you can get equally good mileage with a conventional engine or even a super clean diesel, like the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI? (altho the latter is also pricey, starting at about $23K)

  3. i have a 1993 honda civic hatchback dx. i get 34 in town and 45+ on the highway. 3 years ago i took a long trip and got 55 mpg. can we go backwards, please?

  4. I bought a new 2008 Honda Civic LX because of the high gas-mileage models I was considering, it was the only one with a five speed auto trans.

    I decided I would change my driving habits to get better economy, since I travel on business a lot. So it’s slow starts, turning off the engine at lights, and driving 55-57 mph. Which gets me 44 mpg on the highway !!! I couldn’t be happier with it. Only problem with the civic is that silly location for the emergency brake, which digs into my knee. Oh well, small inconvenience.


  5. I wrote about this exact issue recently. Our 1994 Civic 4 door gets 35-40 mpg. It’s ridiculous what is being touted as “good gas mileage” these days. I’m glad to find someone else speaking up about this.

  6. Let’s look at it another way. My Acura Integra (24 city/30 hiway) routinely returns 28-33 mpg. It’s specs are virtually identical to the new Civic but the mileage is 26 city/35 hiway. Now that’s an improvement. Don’t compare apples to oranges, it gives the wrong impression. What’s the point? The new Civic has the space and amenities to serve as a family car, the old Civic could not. The HF and Si were two seaters and a 3-dr. Saturn? The real immediate future is diesel and diesel hybrids where, in small cars, 60-80 mpg is not out of the question.

  7. Hi Thinging of buying a Honda Civic 1.8 on a 10 plate but i have never had a 1.8i-vetc es in all my life i would like to know how many more miles less i will get as i am coming up to 70 years old and the insurance is going to to be more as well as the road tax Thank You Mercian.

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