The Extra Mile: 2014 Honda Civic Natural Gas
Entry Price: $26,640
Price as tested: $27,390
This week we're driving the 2014 Honda Civic Natural Gas edition, which is similar to other Civics minus the Honda Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) engine. With an 8.03 U.S. gallon equivalent fuel tank coupled with current CNG prices of just $1.99 a gallon, consumers can fill up for about $16.00 and enjoy 220 to 250 mile runs behind the wheel of the cleanest burning internal combustion car available today.
The biggest question mark for those interested in buying a Honda CNG is fuel availability, or lack thereof. Currently, United States CMG infrastructure lags way behind other countries even though it is common knowledge that natural gas powered cars are way better environmentally than gasoline powered rivals.
Similar to its gasoline powered Civic siblings, there is nothing outwardly different about a CNG powered Civic. It's the same compact car offered by Honda and purchased by millions of happy consumers, making it an easy sell in the CNG areas.
The Honda Civic Natural Gas is powered by a version of Honda's 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine built specifically for CNG. It produces 110-horses and 106 lb. ft. of torque coupled to the standard five-speed automatic. Acceleration isn't great, but the return on investment comes from the EPA fuel economy of 27 city and 38 highway.
Honda dealers are quick to assist interested parties about the natural gas model, and explain Civic's 100-percent dedicated natural gas design. CNG Civics run solely on clean burning natural gas unlike other natural gas vehicles, especially larger pickups and medium duty trucks that utilize bi-fuel systems and run on either gasoline or CNG.
Comparing "green" cars, meanwhile, finds the Civic Natural Gas as the cleanest internal combustion vehicle ever tested by the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, because the Civic Natural Gas reduces our dependence on foreign oil, it may qualify for an IRS tax credit for eligible buyers.
As for refueling, I was lucky. Because I live in the middle of the Marcellus Shale gas drilling boom, there is a CNG refueling station exactly two miles from my house in Pennsylvania and a second CNG station one mile from my newspaper office 16 miles away. When we topped off the tank for the Honda driver to return our Civic after our week long test, it was only $13.93 for seven gallons after driving 210 miles. This CNG economic reality should spur your interest in the cleanest burning car offered in the states.
For those who live elsewhere, public refueling stations aren't as common, but certain states have many, including California and Texas. Do a search on the internet to locate the stations nearest your address.
A frequent question from those who heat homes by natural gas is "Can I refuel my Civic CNG at home?"
Honda says because of moisture and other contaminants inherent in some natural gas supplies, and the inability of some home refueling systems to adequately dry the gas and remove contaminants, Honda does not currently recommend home refueling.
However, "Test Drive" feels in the future, there will be companies that address this situation and make available clean home refueling line additions. Another important aspect of not trying to refuel at home is Honda's warranty, as any repair caused by the use of sub-standard natural gas could find your Honda Natural Gas warranty claim denied.
The 2014 Civic Natural Gas comes in two trim levels: a well-equipped base model for $26,640 or an upgraded Leather model for $29,290. Standard features on the entry Civic include a right-side blind spot camera, safety rear camera and HondaLink with seven-inch touchscreen. The Leather version adds more amenities, a navigation system and a nicer interior.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.1 inches, 2,933 lb. curb weight, 6.1 cu. Ft. of cargo space and a 35.4 ft. turning circle.
In summary, those who live where CNG stations are many should definitely drive a Honda Civic Natural Gas model, as the future of internal combustion is now and it comes powered by natural gas. There's just no way to report negatively on a car that runs so well for $1.99 a gallon.
Likes: Fuel economy, costs of operation, Civic amenities and looks.
Dislikes: Only 110 horsepower, trunk space limited as CNG tank is large.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).