The all new Honda Civic Natural Gas has been honored with the greenest car of 2012 award by the Green Car Journal. Interestingly, it defeated two electric, a hybrid and a clean diesel car for getting the top honours at the Los Angeles Auto Show recently. Also, the car has been certified as the cleanest running internal combustion engine in the US by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Previously known as Honda Civic GX, the fifth generation of this alternative fuel car comes with some exciting new features for an affordable green driving. And moreover, the Natural Gas version of Honda Civic would now be sold on a nationwide scale for the US customers in 36 states.
The Honda Civic Natural Gas is America's only assembly line produced passenger car that uses natural gas as fuel. The car is powered by a 1.8-liter, 16-valve, SOHC i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine and equipped with a standard five-speed automatic transmission. It produces 110 horsepower, 106 pound-feet of torque and runs smoothly at the maximum speed of 60 miles per hour. Honda's ECO Assist technology enhances the overall efficiency of the vehicle. Also, the body has been designed stylishly with aerodynamic features like flat under-body construction and functional aerodynamic strakes in front of the wheel for better efficiency. This makes it an almost perfect green vehicle for the city roads.
The use of natural gas makes this car more environment friendly than many electric and hybrid options available today. It produces 30 percent less CO2 than the gasoline version of Honda Civic. The car averages about 38 miles per galon (MPG) on highways and 27 MPG on the city roads. Not only this, the price of natural gas is also about 30 percent lower than the gasoline which reduces the cost of transportation by a big margin. As compared to the 2011 Civic GX, the new car is 12.5 percent more fuel-efficient. The fiver-seater sedan can drive for 240 miles on a tankful of compressed natural gas (CNG), which is way better than many electric cars. Also, the US would not have to import more fuel for this car as the Natural Gas is produced internally. And as per estimates, the US natural gas reserves will last for about 120-years.
What’s not so good?
The biggest problem with the natural gas-powered car is the availability of adequate number of refueling centers. This may affect Honda's ambition of making this car available for everyone across the US. However, a solution could be provided in the form of home filling stations because most of the homes are already using natural gas for cooking. The company will have to install home refueling equipments for the purpose. As compared to the standard Honda Civic, the engine of new car is less powerful. The inner-space is more compact and offers less room for extra baggage because of the larger size of the natural gas fuel tank. Lastly, the green car is available for the US customers only.
The Honda Civic Natural Gas is equipped with many standard Honda equipments for safety and comfort to the users. It features Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), anti-lock braking (ABB) with Brake Assist and a new Adaptive Electric Power Steering system for helping the driver to steer in the ideal direction. The car also has a four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system that can stream music via Bluetooth or a wired USB connection.
Price and availability
The car is available at Honda dealerships across the US in 36 states for about $27,655. You will have to pay another $750 as delivery charges.
The bottom line
The Honda Civic Natural Gas offers a new and affordable alternative to green car lovers. It augurs well for the future of green vehicle in the US. The country can save billion of dollars spent on importing fuel from another countries as it has vast reserves of natural gas. However, success of the new car would be contested by many other factors like the availability of refueling stations and the US's latest focus on promotion of hybrid and E85 vehicles through legislative means. Also, the new car costs higher than another green Honda Hybrid which costs only $24,800 and averages 44 MPG, according to the EPA. Still one hopes for its success as every small contribution for the cause of environment needs to be appreciated under present circumstances.