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There are Civic Hybrid owners on the Yahoo! groups honda-hybrid forum who could help you out with Civic-specific questions.

Any car that gets high MPG is well suited to a long commute such as you describe. The Civic Hybrid gets 30%-40% better MPG than its EX counterpart, so you could expect some benefit. I don't think the hills would be a concern, the CVT should easily be able to crank up the RPMs to give you the power you require, and you can downshift a 5spd.

As for getting a 5spd, you should ask around your Honda dealers if there are even any available for purchase. AFAIK the 5spd Civic Hybrid is quite rare - I have never seen one but OTOH I have not looked very hard.

I haven't seen any reports of problems with a CVT transmission.

Your question about batteries is difficult to answer. The IMA carries an 8 year / 80k mile warranty. Some people assume that means the battery pack can be expected to fail after 8 years or 80,000 miles, but I think that is an unreasonable expectation.

There are definitely no Honda Civic Hybrid owners anywhere with over 80,000 miles yet, but there are those of us with Insights approaching or exceeding that mileage. I have not yet read a report of anyone having to do an out-of-warranty IMA battery replacement. We don't even know what the replacement would cost. I have read a couple of reports of Insight owners getting in-warranty replacements done. If you are very worried about the batteries, you will have to wait until more long-term Insight driving is done to see how the batteries perform in the real world.
 

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Holicow said:
Right figgy: It's not the rating but the volume.
Actually no. The EPA ratings on emissions are reported in grams of pollution emitted per mile travelled, not in concentration (ppm).

However, you do need to exercise care in comparing the *LEV standards across vehicle classes, because they vary. You can see this represented graphically here. This will change as the new Tier 2 standards phase-in from 2004 to 2009, and by 2010 all cars and light-duty trucks will have the same standards. In the meantime, you can rely on the EPA's "emissions/air pollution score" which rates all vehicles on a 1-10 scale (details here). This aggregate score (pounds of smog-forming pollution per 15k miles) is independent of vehicle class and model year.

On that scale, Honda Insight CVT is variously rated 6,8,or 10 while Honda Insight 5spd is rated 6 or 7. Ford Focus is 9 or 10. Ford Rangers, on the other hand, max out at 6 and are as low as 4.

For overall "greenness" you can also look to the ratings of the "Greenest Vehicles of 2004" put out by the ACEEE Green Book, which is an attempt to combine multiple environmental costs, including tailpipe emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, and production-associated impacts. The Honda Insight has been their top-rated gasoline-burning automobile for many years.
 

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james said:
I always thought that emissions standards were based on percentages or parts per million
No, the *LEV standards are expressed in grams of pollutant emitted per mile travelled. The EPA "score" is similar, in pounds of pollutant emitted per 15k miles travelled (same physical quantity, mass/distance, expressed with different units).

More details in this thread or from this link which shows many of the standards for Federal and California.

Some tests are done in concentrations: the two-speed idle tests for air quality. It's worth pointing out as I mention those tests that hybrids which auto-stop are going to beat any conventional ICE-powered car at idle emissions, such as during heavy stop-and-go traffic. Figuring out whether this is fairly reflected in the EPA test would require more digging to determine just what the EPA dynamometer test cycle is, and whether it allows hybrids to be tested in such a way that idle stop can be triggered. If hybrids are tested in a way that idle-stop is not permitted to happen, which could be as simple as never taking a 5spd Insight out of gear, then you could argue that the Insight is really cleaner than it gets credit for. Pure speculation on my part.

Your thoughts on cost are similar to my own. I am unlikely to ever purchase a more expensive BMW but I will happily get another green car like the Insight when mine finally wears out.
 

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xcel said:
Hi James:
I lose ~ 3 to 4 mpg for every 3 - 5 mile stop and go traffic jam and there isn’t a darn thing I can do about it.
If you get the hang of it, you can maintain 90+ mpg in bad freeway traffic by using autostop effectively. Keep the car rolling in autostop at the average traffic speed, and let others brake and rush forward and brake. How easy/feasible this is depends on traffic, of course. YMMV.

if you drive any PZEV based automobile including the 2.3 L Ford Focus through a heavily smog laydened area, it actually cleans the air it drives through! The NOx spike(s) on startup and shutdown of any Hybrid is significant enough in comparison to the emissions savings while in Autostop to be almost negligible.
Do you have any evidence, calculation or references to support those two statements?

I dispute whether an SULEVII (PZEV is just a California moniker for an SULEVII that has extra hardware to prevent evaporative emissions) in fact does emit cleaner exhaust than smoggy air. Here area few reasons. First, atmospheric air-quality standards test for compounds not tested in vehicle air-quality tests (ozone and sulfur dioxide). The most important one is ozone - this is what burns your lungs on a smoggy day. Do you have evidence that ozone concentrations are reduced in vehicle exhaust? Second, vehicle air-quality tests are done in a lab setting, and the cars are not inhaling smog when their tailpipe emissions are tested. To support your statement, the emissions would have to be checked for the reduction you stipulate. Third, air-quality standards use concentrations of pollutants, and vehicle emissions (as we've discussed) use fluxes (mass emitted per distance travelled). So you would have to do some math to get comparable numbers. Have you done this?

Same for the supposed Insight emissions at startup. The startup of a still-warm hybrid (it won't go into idle stop unless it's warm) is very different from the infamously dirty startup of a cold ICE with a 12v starter. Ferinstance, I haven't ever had to give my Insight gas when I start it up, unlike every other car I have owned.
 

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xcel said:
The Insight however is not a PZEV like any number of other PZEV’s available now.
Note that there is no difference between a "PZEV" and an "SULEV" in terms of tailpipe emissions assuming that we are talking about passenger cars or Tier 2 standards. Both are 10/10 on the EPA "green score" scale. PZEV's have additional hardware that takes evaporative emissions to 0.
 

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el_vacho said:
I've never said it was the cleanest, only that it is cleaner than most.
http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/about.htm
"The average overall emission score for model year 2000 and 2001 vehicles is about 3. This average is expected to increase in future model years as cleaner vehicles are introduced."

http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/whatisnew.htm
"This year, EPA's new stringent "Tier 2" emission standards for cars and trucks officially take effect. Stricter standards mean cleaner choices for car buyers - the average score for 2004 models is 6, compared with a score of 4 in 2003."

Insight 5spd has a score of 6 or 7, depending on where you are. So it is unfair to describe them as "actually pretty dirty" in terms of emissions, and a more accurate description would be "slightly less dirty than average." EDIT - is it "cleaner than most?" This depends on your interpretation of the EPA use of the word "average." If they mean the "median," then yes, the Insight is cleaner (in terms of tailpipe emissions) than most. If they mean the "mean," then you cannot say for certain without more information, but you could say "cleaner than average."

EPA characterizes cars with scores as 8 or higher as "the cleanest 2004 vehicles offered for sale." Insight CVT, Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, and many other conventional cars are scored 9 or 10, and you can see them listed here:
http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/all-rank-04.htm

Note that the only car to rank 10 outside of California or NLEV areas (New England) is the Honda Civic CNG.
 

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The tone of this discussion appears to have gotten steadily worse over the past few days, in a manner that is unhelpful to people who might want to use it as a reference. I have reviewed the last 2 pages of this discussion and made changes in an attempt to salvage it. I may continue going backward in time.

Please refrain in the future from directing personal comments at each other or in analysis of posting habits, and the like, and save such discussion for private messages or email.

If you have problems with what I've done here, you can respond to myself or benjamin privately. Thanks.
 

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I have had similar experience driving west across the great plains on I-80 in 40-50 mph northerly winds. Winds taking the car sideways, in other words. I was glad for my wider-than-OEM tires. Much of the drive was either floored in 5th or downshifted to 4th or 3rd. MPG was in the mid-to-low 50's.
 

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Jeepnut said:
How much the battery back will be to replace
Unknown to us as well. Nobody has yet had an out-of-warranty battery pack failure. Few of us are even driving beyond the 80k mile IMA warranty on an Insight, and certainly no Civic Hybrid owners yet. I would expect the Insight battery pack to be more expensive and in shorter supply than a Civic Hybrid battery pack, based on production/sales numbers of the two cars. EDIT - people have speculated the cost to be $1k to $3k.

If you are concerned chiefly about costs then xcel's calcs will be helpful. It looks like you've done your homework there as well. Edmunds also has a good calculator. When I got my Insight I found that it was about a wash on cost, and I decided I'd rather give the money to Honda up front than pay it out to oil companies over time, plus I really dug the car.

Taking hills and maximizing mpg would be good for another discussion. A new discussion on that subject might attract more comments than something buried 6 pages deep here.
 

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Final drive ratio on the Insight 5spd is 3.21 and gear ratios are 1.10, 0.86, 0.71 for 3rd, 4th, 5th gear respectively. Final drive ratio on the Civic sedans is 4.11 and gear ratios are 1.24, 0.97, 0.71 for 3rd, 4th, 5th. Combine the two and our 4th is a lot more like the 5th gear of the Civic, with our 5th gear being even more overdriven.

I have read many more reports of people reaching the top speed of the Insight 5spd in 3rd gear than I have in 4th or 5th.
 
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