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Comparing Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid Cars


To gain more insight to the operational efficiency of hybrid cars, lets compare two relatively equal hybrid car models Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid.


Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius Hybrid Car

Driving any full hybrid can seem a bit strange at first - the no noise at intersections is common to those driving high luxury cars, but more most it is a little disconcerting at first. When you move off, the silence continues, until the speed demands the transfer from electric back to petrol engine.

Once you get used to this change in driving feel and sound, driving the Prius is pretty much like driving any other modern automatic hatchback.

The futuristic appearance of the Toyota Prius drives one to expect a few space-age features inside. And you won't be dissappointed. For a start, there is no standard key.

Instead, the Prius is started by inserting a remote control into a slot on the dash and pressing a power button. If the battery is well charged, the car will start on electric power. If it is cold or the battery is low, the engine will start. Select 'Drive' and the car glides forward, accelerating up to around 45 km/h before it needs the petrol engine.

The power management is visible on the dash video screen.


Honda Civic

Honda Civic Hybrid

The Honda approach is more conservative, using a normal key and starting on the petrol engine every time. The only visible difference between a standard Honda Civic and a Honda Civic Hybrid is the dash display.

Like the Prius, the Civic engine stop at the lights and seamlessly starts when you accelerate to go.

When travelling downhill and when braking, you will notice a distinct change in noise level, with the car now running on only one cylinder and the electric motor has switched to generating mode to charge the battery.



In terms of drivability, the main difference in feel is more likely due to the tyres than anything else. The Honda rides better on normal tyres, while the Prius has special energy-saving low profile tyres, which do seem to ride a lot harder, noticing every bump and ripple in the road.




Power Management - Both systems use the electric and petrol motors together during higher power demands, for acceleration or climbing hills. At low power, the differences appear - the Honda Civic electric motor assists the petrol motor to keep fuel consumption down, while the Toyota Prius can run on the electric motor alone if the car is moving slowly.

Power Generation - both cars have an electric motor powered by a battery, harvesting energy during braking. The Toyota system turns off the petrol engine during low power conditions. Honda keeps the engine running on only one cyclinder. Both cars turn off the petrol engine when you stop at the lights.

Fuel Economy

Both cars perform well in fuel consumption during combined city/highway test cycles:

  • Prius - 4.4 litres per 100km.
  • Civic - 5.2 litres per 100km.

Comparing this fuel economy siize-wise, the Toyota Prius compares to the Toyota Camry [that uses 8.8 litres per 100km].

The most economical non-hybrid Honda Civic sedan, the 1.7-litre Vti-S manual, uses 7.1 litres per 100km.

NOTE: this economy test cycle does not directly relate to conditions in the real world. Expect consumption to be a litre or so higher, especially in town driving conditions.


The Civic Hybrid is classified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) in the USA.

The Prius is classified as Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) status. One better, and as close as is possible to zero emmissions.

Both emit less greenhouse gas than standard petrol cars. Cars emit carbon dioxide, directly related to the amount of fuel used.

An Australian study found the Prius showed a 66 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

  • The Prius rated 8.5/10 for greenhouse emissions
  • The Civic Hybrid at 8/10

A typical family car, the Holden Commodore Executive rates 4.5 out of ten.


Both Toyota and Honda use NIMH technology and offer eight-year warranties on their batteries, with a kilometre limit. There are no heavy metals, so battery disposal is not a significant issue. Recycling technology is developing.

The Toyota Battery has a design life of 15 years, and is more expensive to replace than the Honda Civic., and with increasing use of NIMH technology recycling may become economic by the time these cars need their first replacement battery

Both Honda and Toyota have rated well in reliability surveys. The engines in both cars are sourced from other models, with modifications to improve efficiency in a hybrid application.

The CVT-type transmission used by both vehicles is becoming increasingly popular with other makers.

Both manufacturers have been producing hybrids for several years, making 2007 models second generation.


Final Choice

Both the Toyota and Honda hybrid are reliable, efficient, smooth operating cars. With the Honda proving a more comfortable ride, the Prius takes over in internal style and onboard technology. The more conventional Honda is cheaper, but if you like to be on the cutting edge of technology and like the futuristic, more efficient, sporting style of Pius, then thats the one for you.

Next: Best Green Car Award 2007

Hybrid Car Guide | Hybrid Cars 2007 | Comparing Hybrid Cars | Toyota Prius vs. Honda Civic Hybrid | Best Green Cars



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