Saturday, February 03, 2007

Test-driving the Honda Civic Hybrid

We test-drove a Honda Civic Hybrid today. It drove pretty well - I didn't notice the continuous variable transmission (CVT), whatever it is - acceleration, stopping, and normal driving felt normal to me. It's pretty sophisticated technology, that's for sure. We both felt that the ride was very smooth and very quiet. We were surprised at how much trunk space it has; we were actually able to fit a paddle and a curling broom back there - we were worried that with the battery back there, we wouldn't be able to fit it.

One thing that Ian didn't like was that it is a bit narrower in the front than our car, and he felt that visibility out the front window wasn't quite as good as our car. Also, there's no "mute" button for the stereo on the steering wheel. I liked the adjustability of the seats and steering wheel as well as how much space there is in the back seat. Overall, we liked the car. We'll test-drive a few more, but we could certainly make this car fit into our life.

What surprised and annoyed me was that the salesperson seemed to be trying to talk us OUT of buying a hybrid. He started by saying that the hybrid wouldn't give us that much increased mileage, because we don't do much city driving (apparently the mileage gains during city driving are quite phenomenal). We said that that didn't matter to us, because our driving habits will likely change once Ian finishes school. And I drive around the city when I drive.

So when that didn't work to talk us out of it, He said that it didn't have as many colour choices. Whatever. We had already said that we didn't care about the colour of the car so much.

I guess he pulled out his big gun then; he said that buying the hybrid would be too expensive. The hybrid costs about $5000 more (less a $2000 rebate from the government) than the Honda Civic sedan. Honda has 4.9% financing on the sedan and 7.1% on the hybrid, so it is more expensive to buy a hybrid, all other things being equal, when you finance through Honda. We're hoping to get bank financing for the car so this may not be an issue. Even if it is, we started off by saying that we understood that it was more expensive, but that we wanted to do our part to help out the environment, and we felt that we have the means to buy a hybrid.

Then the salesperson stopped talking us out of the car we wanted, and talked about leasing was better than buying. We had already said that we planned to buy the car. However, apparently if you manage your money right, you can invest the final buyout amount in something that will make money over the lease period, and you'll end up ahead after the buyout. Unfortunately, we're unlikely to do that, since we don't have the $10000ish extra that we're not using to buy a car to invest. How many people do?

I am really pissed off that the salesperson and Honda don't seem to be committed to selling hybrid cars. I understand that since Honda doesn't sell as many hybrids as they do sedans, they don't get as much revenue from them, and that's why they finance with a higher interest rate. But that just seems backward to me. I think that Honda should be ENCOURAGING people to buy a hybrid with things like lower financing and other rebates. Sheesh. I'm really, really annoyed by this. We just find out that we have big-time problems with climate change, caused by people, and I don't think that car companies and oil companies are doing enough to help reduce emissions.

I wish I knew what to do to change this. There's something not right here.


Darling Jee said...

I could rant and rave about car salesmen but I won't. They make me mad (breathe Monisa). Don't let them get to you. Have you considered the Ford Escape Hybrid? I've never done any $ research but I drove it for work (ie it was rented for me) and it's a really nice ride. And I'm a complete car snob. Much more powerful than the regular gasoline Ford Escape which was surprising. If you have time/energy, I'd recommend trying it out just for fun.

Anonymous said...

It is possible that the car salesman doesn't get as big of a commission from selling the Hybrid as he would from from a regular car, making him not really want to sell them. Sucks, I know :(
Love you,