HybridCars.com Gets 68.7 MPG in 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid

Yuuji Fujiki

Yuuji Fujiki, chief engineer for Honda’a IMA hybrid system, holding the battery pack used in the 2012 Civic Hybrid. (Photos: Brad Berman, All rights reserved.)

The new 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, using a lithium ion battery for the first time, increased its average EPA fuel economy rating from 41 mpg to 44 mpg. The new model is rated at 44 in both city and highway driving. HybridCars.com, using hypermiling techniques, achieved the upper limit of what any driver should ever expect for fuel efficiency—a score of 68.7 mpg on a 10-mile course of mostly country lanes and some highway driving, with four or five stoplights along the way.

The improvement in fuel economy solidifies the Civic Hybrid’s second-place position for fuel economy among cars that don’t plug into the grid. The 44-mpg average moves the Civic slightly closer to the Prius’s 50-mpg level, and edges out the 42-mpg Lexus CT 200h. Honda makes the claim that the Civic Hybrid becomes the most fuel-efficient sedan—meaning it’s not a hatchback—on U.S. roads.

The all-new, ninth-generation 2012 Honda Civic arrives at dealers nationwide starting today. The MSRP for the Civic Hybrid begins at $24,050, and tops out at $26,750 for the package with leather, XM radio and leather.

Like other new Civic models—there are now five different versions, including the HF high fuel-effeciency non-hybrid model—the 2012 Civic Hybrid gains new features and sleeker styling.

Bigger Engine Means More Electric Power

In addition to the shift to lithium ion batteries, the 2012 Honda Civic uses a larger 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. “We changed the displacement from 1.3 to 1.5 liters,” said Yuuji Fujiki, chief engineer for Honda’a IMA hybrid system, in an exclusive interview with HybridCars.com. “But the fuel consumption rate is the same as current model.” Fujiki explained that the larger displacement allows the engine to run at lower RPMs, which in turn allows for more frequent use of the electric motor and produces a quieter ride.

The Civic Hybrid’s lithium ion batteries are 30 percent smaller than the previous nickel-metal-hydride batteries—thereby granting more cargo space than the previous model.

Fujiki expained how every aspect of the hybrid system’s design was tweaked for optimal efficiency—such as the motor that increases output from 15 kW to 20 kW, uses more coils and widely spaced magnets, and employs plastic spacers to better manage temperature.

In addition to more frequent use of idle-stop, the engine valves are sometime deactivated to cut off fuel, even when the engine is turning. Honda refers to this as EV mode, although Fujiki admitted that it’s not a true all-electric condition. “It’s not electrical only,” he said. “The fuel system is stopped, but there is a mechanical drag.” Fujiki said that, at maximum output, this “no-fuel” mode could last up to 79 seconds.

All About Balance

The focus of Honda engineers was on total vehicle efficiency—evidenced by a remarkable 44-mpg average using a single-motor system that’s less expensive and complex than the Toyota two-motor approach. “We had to strike a balance between engine friction, motor output, and how to use the battery,” said Fujiki. “That balance is going to determine the overall efficiency.”

Our interview with Fujiki helped us win the MPG challenge, which was established by Honda for journalists attending the media preview for the 2012 Civic earlier this month in Washington, DC. His advice—to accelerate in a steady manner to about 45 miles per hour and stay at this speed for as much of the 10-mile course as possible—was the key to achieving the winning 68.7 mpg score. Fujiki also advised not to use the neutral gear when coasting.

“Don’t use neutral, because when idling, fuel is injected,” he said. “Keep it in Drive, so the engine can judge that you’re decelerating, and get into fuel-cut mode and so you can take advantage of regenerative braking.”

Six-Percent Hybrid Take-Rate

The new Civic HF sedan, positioned between the Civic LX and Civic EX, is rated for 41 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 in the city. It is equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission, exclusive 15-inch lightweight alloy wheels and aerodynamic enhancements under the body, and a rear spoiler. It does not use any hybrid drivetrain technology or idle-stop features. Driving in exactly in the same manner in the HF as we did in the Civic Hybrid, we achieved 46 mpg on the 10-mile course. The MSRP for the 5-Speed Automatic HF model begins at $19,455.

All Civic models, except for the Si, now feature an “econ” button allowing drivers to maximize efficiency on demand.

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid

Consumers will recognize the Civic’s raked windshield, wide stance and other styling features that do not dramatically depart from the current model. The hybrid has a unique grille design with blue accents. Special five-spoke alloy wheels, a decklid spoiler and LED brake lights further differentiate the Civic Hybrid from other Civic models. The interior of the Civic Hybrid uses exclusive seat fabric and unique door panel covers. The hybrid offers a range of standard and available audio and navigation technologies.

Honda expects to sell a total of 260,000 Civics in a year—with about 6 percent coming from the hybrid’s sales, and another 2 -3 percent from the HF model. That means about 1,300 sales of the hybrid per month—a fraction of Prius sales. Honda executives admitted that the company’s hybrids were primarily targeted at other global markets, such as Japan.


  • Capt. Concernicus

    That’s pretty impressive for the hybrid Civic. Now I’d like to see real world numbers.

    When I put some effort into it I was able to drive 81 miles on one gallon of gas in my 2nd gen Prius. But the real world number is 47.8 miles per gallon.

  • Eric

    So this means the back seats can’t fold down for additional storage in the Hybrid? That’s too impractical and a deal killer for me. Disappointing. Guess I’m trading in my ’02 Civic for a Prius instead.

  • Nelson Lu

    These are better numbers than I expected. But for a car that’s the size of the Civic, the fact that Honda can’t come up with commensurate numbers shows that the Honda hybrid system just won’t cut it. Sure, Honda fans will probably gobble up this car — which does appear from reviews to be far nicer than the Insight and the CR-Z. In effect, they’re gleefully taking snake oil. A nicer version of snake oil, for sure, but still snake oil.

  • Indigo

    The HCH-3 looks like it incorporates a lot of improvements. It’s too bad that the car costs as much as the Prius. For the MPG hit, the Civic should cost about $2k less than the Prius in order to be really competitive.

  • Charles

    Another IMA swing and another strike. How many strikes is Honda going to give IMA, before calling it out.

    Priced in the same range as the Prius, with lower MPG, despite having Li batteries. I am sure Honda will sell a few, but only to Prius hatters.

  • Dave smith

    You could just get the insight, the seats fold down all the way. It allows me to move almost anything except huge furniture.

  • Yegor

    Does the battery still blocks access from the trunk to salon?

  • Indigo

    Of course, for the money, the Insight-II is a better buy. I got mine for $17,588 and I almost always get 51 MPG. If I hypermile it, I get 62 MPG.

  • BBerman

    Still no folding seats.

  • Yegor

    Yes, According to what people report at FuelEconomy.gov website Honda Insight is underrated by EPA (41 MPG).
    People do get from 46 to 49 MPG on average – very close to Prius.

  • Yegor

    Thank you, Brad, for the folding seats info!

  • Anonymous

    The 2012 Civic hybrid starts from about 24k with USB and BT, leather trim at 25.25k, model with NAVI at 25.55k and the top model comes with leather trim and NAVI tops at 26.75k.

    For the record, I think a Prius with leather trim is about 26.85k without NAVI.

  • Anonymous

    EPA Passenger room / luggage room (cu.ft.)

    Ford Fusion hybrid 99.8; 11.8
    2012 Honda Civic hybrid 94.6; 10.7
    2010- Toyota Prius 93.7

  • anonymous2

    68 mpg for 10 miles, big deal. The 2010 Fusion Hybrid hypermiled for over 80 mpg on a full tank of gas for 1445 miles.

  • simon@syd

    I was looking at that picture of the backseat and thinking that it might be hinged. Could it be that with the 30% smaller battery, Honda has gotten rid of that problem of the backseat being fixed, on sedan hybrids? Also I was thinking about heat and electricity and it being so close to the passenger… Not sure about that – is this car crash tested for impacts from behind?

  • Anonymous

    anonymous2,

    Besides those marketing stunt hypermiling, let’s look what happens in real-life.

    According to fueleconomy.gov,

    Ford fusion hybrid (2010), based on 32 vehicles reported, the average mileage is 37.9 MPG;
    Honda Civic hybrid (2006-10), based on 259 vehicles reported, the average mileage is 44.5 MPG.

  • Anonymous

    “Also I was thinking about heat and electricity and it being so close to the passenger… Not sure about that – is this car crash tested for impacts from behind?”

    Do you have similar worries about Prius, Fusion hybrid, or probably every hybrid on the road today?

  • Anonymous

    Honda Civic HF 29 / 41
    Ford Focus SFE (sedan only) auto 28 / 40 mpg,
    Elantra auto 29 / 40,
    Cruze Eco auto 26 / 37,

  • Charles

    Odd, the EPA has two different sizes for the Fusion Hybrid. At:
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm
    it has a passenger volume 101 ft3, but a Ford site has the above 99.8 ft3.

  • Anonymous

    Charles,

    The info on fueleconomy.gov is prob. for Fusion, not Fusion hybrid.

  • Nelson Lu

    Regardless, the Fusion Hybrid is a lot more comfortable for rear passengers than either the Prius or the Civic Hybrid. Even if the difference is just five cubic feet, that makes a big difference in terms of leg and toe room. (I just test drove a Volt this week; while it is very nice and I am seriously considering getting one for my mother, a problem is going to be putting my brother (who is developmentally disabled) in the rear passenger room; I think he will fit, but not without making the front passenger seat essentially useless. I expect the same issue in the Civic Hybrid. That’s not an issue in my Fusion Hybrid.

  • Nelson Lu

    Also a relevant factor (although I acknowledge not a major one): range.

    Fusion Hybrid: 39 MPG * 17.5 gallons = 682 miles
    Prius: 50 MPG * 11.9 gallons = 595 miles
    Civic Hybrid: 44 MPG * 13.2 gallons = 581 miles

  • eddie

    Dear Honda,

    Years ago when I considered one of your hybrid vehicles I was shocked that the rear seat did not fold down. I really thought with the redesign of the batteries you would correct this issue. 8-(

    Please consider putting some effort to move the battery to one side so atleast one half of the rear seat will fold down? I would wager I am just one of MANY of those in the market who like smaller, fuel efficient vehicle that NEEDS to transport items from time to time that need the extra space.

  • Anonymous

    I guess a range of almost 600 miles is good enough for me, may be because I’m not a tractor trailer driver. I don’t think hauling around a large tank of gas unnecessarily is a smart idea.

    The rear legroom in Volt is plain horrible, I guess GM doesn’t design it with adults in mind.

    Rear seat – Volt / Prius / ’12 Civic hybrid
    Headroom 36; 37.6; 37.1
    Shoulder room 53.9; 53.1; 53.3
    Hip room 51.2; 51.2; 51.4
    Legroom 31; 36; 36.2

  • Anonymous

    The cargo space of Prius-2010 is 22 cu. ft. So the combination of passenger and cargo space is 115.7 cu. ft. and thats much higher than the Hybrid versions of Fusion, Camry, Altima and Civic.

    No wonder, more than 10,000 Prius is sold in US alone.

  • Box One

    Bravo Honda : For launching the car with a Lithium Battery which gets 3 MPG more and weighs 30 % less. Good work.

    But still Civic-H is no competition to Prius as its lesser in interior space and mileage while more in Price. Especially cargo space of Prius is 22 cu. ft. which is same as that of Crown Victoria. But for Honda fans, this is a good deal.

    Still Insight at 18.2 K is a better economic alternative to Prius. I see lot of Insight’s in Chicago area.

  • Box One

    Eddie

    Dont expect the rear seat to fold down in a Sedan like Civic. Its not there in either Fusion or Camry or Altima or any other Hybrid sedan.

    If you feel that Prius is too expensive, please go for Insight which has all nice features that Prius has including rear seat fold which open a big space.

    Hatch / Wagon is superior to Sedan and no wonder, many small CUVs are coming which are just slightly bigger than a Wagon.

  • Box One

    Civic & Civic-H is phased out in Japan as the Fit has taken its sales.

    Here Honda comes with 5 versions of Civic. Sedan, Coupe, Hybrid, Sport and HF (High Mileage).

    Its good that 2 of them have 40 MPG +. However many vehicles shown in NY Auto Show which has 40 MPG + are Hatch types like Prius, Insight, Focus, Fiesta, Sonic.

    How does Honda prepare to the move to CUVs and Hatch type vehicles. Why not they apply this same Motor and Battery in Insight, since the sales of that vehicle is slowly rising.

  • Anonymous

    http://automobiles.honda.com/civic-hybrid/specifications.aspx

    Battery weighs 48.5 lbs, while motor weighs 42.5 lbs and thats a total of 91 lbs. I believe their earlier version weighed 100 lbs.

    If they can crank out so much mileage with 91 lbs system after applying many luxury features, thats wonderful. The best part is it gives 44 in city also while the HF may offer much lesser in city.

  • Yegor

    eddie,

    Why don’t you buy Honda Insight?
    Seats fold.
    It is dramatically less expensive.
    It has a better MPG according to what people report at fueleconomy.gov website – around 47MPG (EPA underrates it).

  • Yegor

    simon@syd,

    I would not worry about rear crash safety. Civic Hybrid safety would practically the same as regular Civic. It is an extremely low probability that a car would be crashed so hard from behind that it will reach the battery.
    I guess it has to be crashed at 65 MPH from behind to the Civic Hybrid set fixed against a wall or against other car otherwise Civic Hybrid will be just dragged forward in the moment of a collision without any damage to the battery.

  • Anonymous

    “Battery weighs 48.5 lbs, while motor weighs 42.5 lbs and thats a total of 91 lbs. I believe their earlier version weighed 100 lbs.”

    With the new Civic hybrid Li battery saves weight by 1/3, I can’t believe that the total weight of battery and motor is reduced by 9 lb. of ~9% only.

    @Box One,
    Production of Civic and Civic hybrid for Japanese market has ceased in 2010 in preparation for the launch of MMC Fit and Fit hybrid in fall. No worries, Fit/Fit hybrid is the best selling car in Japan last month.
    But I guess Honda is still developing a version of Civic hybrid (though prob. not a sedan) for Japan.

  • Anonymous

    From Reuters Breakingview:

    “Arab gas guzzling threatens global energy balance

    Middle Eastern demand for its own oil could be a bigger threat to the global energy balance than unrest in the region — at least long term. Rising demand at home threatens to limit Saudi Arabia’s key role as the world’s swing producer and could spell structurally higher prices for global markets.

    A Saudi official this month expressed unusual public concern about the nation’s energy use. Oil consumption, boosted by car use and air conditioning, has risen by half in the past decade to an estimated 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) this year. Saudi Aramco, the national oil group, reckons demand could reach 8.3 million bpd by 2030.

    Currently, after exports and domestic consumption, Saudi has spare capacity estimated at 2.8 million bpd — a crucial buffer amounting to about 3 percent of global oil consumption. Aramco’s forecast suggests that could be fully absorbed by domestic demand this side of 2025. [...]“

    Oops.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous said: “The cargo space of Prius-2010 is 22 cu. ft. So the combination of passenger and cargo space is 115.7 cu. ft”

    A Honda Fit has 91 cu.ft. passenger room and 21 cu.ft. for luggage. Total is 112 cu.ft. I’d say, not bad, not bad.

  • Anonymous

    This car is a looker. It somehow looks a lot different from the regular Civic–the hybrid design cues are distinctive. Glad the Civic name is carrying Honda’s clean energy image with its Natural Gas and Lithium hybrid offerings. While this is a hybrid car site, I’m actually even more excited about the Civic natural gas model.

  • Nelson Lu

    Anonymous, your assertion that the Volt’s rear leg room is just 31 in. is inconsistent with GM’s numbers, which say 34.1. (http://www.chevrolet.com/volt/features-specs/) It is still not particularly big, and that’s probably going to ultimately cause me to pass up on the Volt (as well as as the Focus EV, which will have about the same room, and the Leaf, which, surprising to me, has even less room), but that difference between the Volt and the Prius/Civic in terms of leg room is not as big as you assert. My guess is that I’ll get my mother a MKZ Hybrid, but I plan to take her out to see the Volt, the Leaf, and the Focus, to let her see how she feels about them.

  • Anonymous

    Nelson,
    Thanks for correction. I took the spec from GM-Volt.

  • Giles

    I am happy to see Honda is still moving forward.

    There will always be more to be desired, that is the nature of the market, and consumers voicing their opinions is also great, as it lets the manufacturer know what to work on next.

    I see this as a great step for Honda, and I hope their hybrid vehicles (all of them) outsell all their other cars, furthering the market to even better places.

    For many (most) drivers, it comes down to what is available and affordable. Honda knows this, and is working to satisfy its customers.

    (And yes, the Prius is amazing.)

  • Ipribadi

    I think Honda is pricing this HCH-3 too high just to avoid cannibalizing the Insight.
    Being the same price as the Prius while offering worst mpg (at least on paper) is no good.
    Honda’s IMA system is superior to Toyota’s HSD in the cost department.
    With only a single electric motor and integrated packaging, the part and assembly cost should be lower than the HSD but this doesn’t seem to be reflected in the final MSRP.

    Most people would take this HCH-3 over the Prius if it were priced about $2K lower.
    C’mon compared to the HF trim, the Hybrid (which is similarly equipped) is about $5K more expensive!

  • Col. Angus

    For all you Toyota Prius lovers…. Atleast the Honda throttle won’t get stuck open, causing you and your loved ones to crash and die!!! Lol! Personally I think hybrids are lame! Why on earth would someone want to drive a slow hybrid when you can buy a diesel? My 1st trip in my vw sportwagen tdi yielded 47.2 mpg and I was driving over 70mph nearly the whole time. Plus for the Eco friendly people… My carbon foot print is smaller than a hybrid due to the battery pack and the strip mining used to obtain the rare earth metals in the magnets and battery pack!!!! Get a clue!!!!!!

  • Luc


    “Also I was thinking about heat and electricity and it being so close to the passenger… Not sure about that – is this car crash tested for impacts from behind?”

    Do you have similar worries about Prius, Fusion hybrid, or probably every hybrid on the road today?

    Well in the Prius and Insight the batteries are on the floor, not in the back seat so I can definitely see the concern. Crash test seems not an issue in theory since that’s pretty far into the car. But heat, electricity or magnetic field could be an issue just inches away.

  • Shakes

    The limited weight difference is due to the increased engine size. It is a 1.5 liter vs the old 1.3 liter engine.

  • anomynous

    To commenters talking about Prius cargo space:
    Allot of the prius cargo volume is actually under the cargo mat. Not sure if this should count. If you look at the main cargo spaces they are nearly the same between the Insight and Prius. Somehow Toyota gets to add the large but very flat underfloor pocket. Funny, in Canada the Insight and Prius have the same cargo volume because they only measure the main usable space. The underfloor pockets are useful for small knicknacks/tools/etc but it is a very flat pocket; they don’t really let you add larger items to your trunk (unless you were to rip the floor out of your trunk. Which is why I find the Prius cargo volume somewhat misleading…

  • Raunit

    The safety features in this model is really convincing, especially the multiple-threshold front airbags.. I still like the eight-generation models.

  • Charlie B

    When I purchased our 09 in Feb of 2009, Toyota was not willing to deal at all on the Prius. I was getting as much as 50MPG on the hwy and mostly 42 to 44 around town. In the past 3 months with 30K total miles, the fuel economy has fallen to 28MPG and the dealer says it is because of the updates to the computer to save the ion batteries. This will allow the batteries to go to the end of the warrenty period but WTF?

    I am about to dump the thing and go and buy a Ford Focus, MPG would be better at $15K less.

  • soccer

    I laugh my ass off when reading the title. Very misleading title! the REAL honda civic hybrid’s mpg is much lower lower LOWER . All my best, the average is 44mpg (city+hwy)/year round on my 2008 HCH. But if I drive a little bit close to “normal” civic, the number drop to 38~39/year round. 2012 could have a better performance, I definitely dont believe for any such high mpg.

  • soccer

    …and also load with 04 people on your HCH and watch it suffers its mpg…..in overall, it is a car that “sensitive” to cool, heat, load, speed……

  • dhybrids

    Come on guys, the new 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid is getting more improvement with the using of a lithium ion battery. Do you guys realize that its increased the average EPA fuel economy rating from 41 mpg to 44 mpg?. That’s pretty impressive don’t you think?. Cause after all, these are better numbers.

  • Glen

    Thanks, Brother Box One, for good-sense comments. It breaths fresh air into a blog!

  • yodabear

    i love the car but storage is very little so i cant put much in if i was moing

  • Robert Raupp

    I don’t own a hybrid but I have owned Toyota and Honda vehicles. In fact I currently own a Honda Fit and I know a great deal about batteries.

    I see that everyone is comparing luggage space and fuel mileage between the Prius and the HCH but there are a couple of other things to consider when comparing them.

    The batteries should last longer on the HCH due to the fact that they are lithium based batteries and also they will not get hot like the nickel metal hydride batteries do in the Prius.

    Finally, the way the car drives is very important to me. The Prius is, from what I read, a good handling car but not half as good as the Honda. If have yet to own a Honda that didn’t have excellent handling compared to the Toyotas that I have driven that are in no way fun to drive. If the price of the HCH is the same or higher, the higher cost of the batteries needs to be factored in. Kudos for Honda to go to better technology while Toyota sticks with what they know will work.

    So if you want a hybrid that is fun to drive you better get a Honda HCH, Insight, or CRZ. In fact I read an article comparing the Insight to the Prius and it stated that the Insight was the better all around car, especially due to it fun handling and lower price.

  • soccer

    own a HCH then comes back here to post your comments

  • Jay

    Traded our 2009 HCH in for the 2012. Love it!! Fuel econ is 10-20% better, (44-45 real world instead of 37-38 in the ’09) 0-60 is 10% better and the new imid system is a nice addition. I especially like the bluetooth audio.

  • Pat

    I have a 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, Bought the 1st one in the area, I now have 31000 miles on it At first I struggled to get 43mpg on the highway, after about 10000 miles I was averaging about 47mpg. My engine light came on and I was getting about 57 mpg for over a month, took into service and they fixed it. some air pollution bs, Under warranty and back down to 47mpg, If I could figure out how to get rid of the air pollution bs I would disconnect. It’s awesome to get this kind of mileage I drive over 1000 miles a week and only filling up 1 and a half times, Options are good however I wish I could spread my legs a little wider on long trips. Overall happy with the car.

  • xiaotao22

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  • xiaotao22

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  • Grant Parden

    2012 Civics Hybrids are now selling at $4K – $4.5K off sticker. I can’t believe that I got a 40+ MPG hybrid with EX level features (bluetooth, MP3, leather, heated seats, etc) for $21.9K. Considering the build quality, ride and reliability this is the value home run of the decade. I love this car!

  • danwat1234

    The Prius C starts at $19,000, much cheaper than the Civic Hybrid and gets better mileage still.

  • John reddien

    I drive a 2008 civic sedan. Autmatic. if I keep the rpm below 2000 or sixty miles per hour t I get
    38 mpg. A tad more than 410 miles per
    Tank.

  • Mac

    I’m a happy 2009 HCH owner. Just passed 121K miles and have averaged 50 mpg since day one. Most of my driving is freeway, to and from Los Angeles 50 miles each way.
    Check Engine light began to come on intermittently about a year ago and IMA light did the same about six months ago. Finally took it into my local dealer for diagnosis — time for a new battery. Battery cost is about $3700 but is fully warranteed in California until 150K miles so no cost to me. My replacement battery will be Li-ion variant instead of Ni-mh.
    It’s a great car!

  • altonalvin

    The Civic Hybrid uses an Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system similar to Honda Insight. Early models from 2001 to 2005 used a 5-speed manual transmission, but models since then feature a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Civic Hybrid is only available as sedan. jareddouglasmartin.com

  • soccer2002

    my 2008 HCH is only make 35mpg – from 37mpg a couple months ago. Probably because of the hot weather…not in August yet, in DFW….Battery lasts for a couple miles, then the system tries to recharge it…and you figure it out: a stupid (draw power to charge the battery), weak and bad gas mileages car…Dont try to jump in a busy highway in hot day!

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  • Dan Sprunger

    My avg MPG in my 2012 HCH has been 44.8 MPG it’s been a great car. The only issue I have is the brakes are so sensitive. But a great car for driving to and from work!