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2007 Honda Civic (Honda)
2007 Honda Civic (Honda)

Buying Used: Hybrids

Buying used: Three hybrids that have stood the test of time Add to ...

One of the pleasant bonuses of owning a hybrid vehicle is that it will probably be reliable. Indeed, according to Consumer Reports, most hybrids are more dependable than their garden variety non-hybrid counterparts. The Toyota Prius and Camry hybrids, for example, generally top the list for most reliable cars, period…..from C.R. and elsewhere.

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There are exceptions, of course. Some years of the Honda Civic Insight can be problematic, and hybrids, when they let go, can be frighteningly expensive to repair. As well, most hybrid owners tend to keep their cars to the bitter end, so finding a decent used model can be challenging.

Here are three that have handled themselves well over the years.

2010 Ford Fusion

Introduced in 2010, this iteration of the Fusion Hybrid is one of Consumer Reports’ “Good Bet” models. It does well in most departments, and rates a “better than average” used car verdict. Indeed, it fares better than the non-hybrid V6 version of this mid-size sedan.

Some comments from owners: “trunk space is compromised by battery,” “handles like a real car,” “mileage exceeds the rated miles per gallon.”

Transport Canada has three safety recalls on file; one for possibly flawed 17-inch wheels, one for transmission linkage issues, and one for a recalcitrant front seat adjuster.

The U.S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) meanwhile, has 28 complaints registered with this model. A sampling: “Almost a complete failure of the brake system,” “The car shut off on me six times before I could make 20 miles (32 km),” and “Removed my foot from the brake pedal and the car suddenly accelerated, traveling approximately 6 feet (1.8 m).”

Problems with the throttle, body, fuel injection system and brakes seem to dominate here. The Canadian Black Book puts it at $15,350 these days, while the Red Book says $11,425.

2007 Honda Civic Hybrid

NHTSA has one safety recall for this vintage of the Civic Hybrid, a malfunctioning voltage converter could render the car a non-starter. Telltale signs include stalling and headlight failure. Add to this five technical service bulletins and a rather high tally of 34 owner complaints. These include problems with the vehicle Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, excessive tire wear, and premature battery failure issues. “Honda refuses to replace any IMA battery unless it completely fails,” says one owner.

Consumer Reports is cautiously positive about the ’07 Civic Hybrid, giving it a “better than average” verdict. Watch out for the climate control system, but otherwise, this one gets C.R.’s “Good Bet” seal of approval.

Comments from owners include: “This car has almost 47,000 miles (75,600 km) and has the original brakes and has never had a repair,” “Allows me to use the HOV lane”, and “Not a great car for tall people.” The Canadian Black Book values this iteration of the Civic Hybrid at $9200, and the Red Book has it at $6525.

2004 Toyota Prius

This is the second generation of Toyota’s popular hybrid, and it was bigger inside than its predecessor, with better fuel economy and improved driveability.

NHTSA found five reasons for recalls: possibly flawed steering column and yoke on certain models, a questionable electric water pump, iffy airbag deployment, and, of course, the stuck accelerator pedal.

To this we can add 52 technical service bulletins and a massive 510 complaints lodged with the government agency. The latter two issues cover every aspect of this generation of Prius, but here is a sampling: “Odometer stops working at 299,999 miles (483,000 km),” “While driving my 2004 Toyota Prius home at night on a dark, winding road, both headlights suddenly went out!!!!” and “Sudden acceleration happened three times.”

A wonky ignition button and suicidal headlights seem to be common problems. Nonetheless, Consumer Reports gives it a big thumbs-up, with its highest used car prediction rating and the “Good Bet” stamp of approval.

Engine cooling and electrical glitches are a minor concern, but, otherwise, this appears to be one of the most dependable cars ever made, and is a big favourite with cab drivers across Canada.

A few comments from owners: “Last week, my Prius turned 143,750 miles (231,000 km),” “Limited range from small gas tank,” “Love it when the engine shuts off at stoplights.”

For a ten year old car, the second generation Prius has held up well; prices are in the $7500 to $10,000 range.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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