2007 Honda Civic Long-Term Road Test

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2007 Honda Civic GX: Brakes Wear, Shifter Compromises Fuel Economy

November 21, 2008

GXshift1.jpg

The Civic GX's odo says it has traveled 25,611 miles, and the last posting about the car on this blog was at 19,683!

Apologies. It is hard to regularly find something new and exciting to write about when you drive the same car day after day. At least it is when the car is a 2007 Honda Civic GX. Barring a natural gas incident (the car, not the driver) , the GX is wonderful but unexciting basic transportation. Period.

This posting is occasioned by three things: The GX's first brake job, a mileage and fuel-cost update and a Honda transmission idiosyncrasy that we've discovered.

We got the brake job -- $183.85 for front pads and rotor resurfacing, after we noticed a slight noise -- not grinding, but not right, either -- when braking hard at freeway speeds.

Turned out the rotors weren't warped, but were glazed and discolored from excessive heat - the result of all the braking we do in our 100-mile-plus round trip commute in rush-hour traffic.

The service advisor at our local Honda dealership told us we were actually doing pretty good: that the range for a first front-end brake job was 5,000 to 25,000 miles, with an awful lot of people coming it at under 15k. The composition of the Civic's brake pads, he said, can make 'em wear out pretty fast.

On the fuel economy front, we're still averaging around 33 miles per gallon-equivalent, not bad for a car that's EPA-rated at 28 mpg and is usually driven in the worst of all conditions for decent fuel economy - Southern California freeways during morning and evening rush hours.

It should be even higher.

One thing I should have written about a while ago but have been too embarrassed to tackle is my inability to drive the car in the proper gear.

I'm constantly finding myself roaring down the freeway in 3rd instead of in the far more fuel-efficient "drive," which gives you 4th and 5th gears to play with.

Actually, I'm told (by guys at Honda, no less) this can be a problem with many Hondas with automatic transmissions .

The console-mounted shifter is all the way forward in "Park" and as you pull it back through "Reverse" and "Neutral" you'd think the logical stopping point would be in "D."

But Honda's engineers, for reasons known only to them, designed the shifter mechanism so that it easily pulls right through the "drive" position and locks into "D3," which locks out 4th and 5th gears.

If you shift by feel, which I do all too often, you can easily end up winding it out in 3rd, which I do and which gulps fuel .

Fortunately, with a Phil natural gas pump in the garage, our fuel costs are well below market rates - even with gasoline and natural gas prices at the retail pumps down around the $2 per gallon mark now.

We've been averaging about $2.10 a gallon all along, even when retail pump prices were nearly $3.25 for natural gas and over $4 for gasoline.

John O'Dell, Senior Editor, Green Car Advisor @ 25,611 miles

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