Road Test: 2016 Honda Civic Touring

Road Test: 2016 Honda Civic Touring

Everything Done Well—and Some Things Done Very Well

2016 Honda Civic Coupe,performance

Where it thrives–out on the road

In the battle to sell cars, Honda has never taken the path of the lowest price. Instead, it has traveled a higher road and earned the reputation of quality, reliability and high-tech innovation. The latest 2016 Honda Civic Coupe is no exception.

The all-new Civic Coupe followed the sedan onto dealer lots, but a Civic Coupe is nothing new—Honda has sold nearly two million of them so far. In its quest to build a better-than-the-previous model, which lacked a spark of race-bred intensity, they produced a very long list of significant changes for this 10th-generation edition. In the face of growing competition, the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe does everything well, and some things very well.

Starting off, there’s some exciting news under the hood for a change—two new four-cylinder engines, one with a first time in the U.S. turbocharger. Constructed on an all-new platform, the 2016 Civic, both coupe and sedan, boasts new edgy styling, a quieter, larger interior that wouldn’t look out of place in an Acura, and a host of other improvements.

But wait, there’s more. As more Americans realize the sensibility of a hatchback, there’s now a Civic five-door hatch, and for the tuner crowd Honda is finally bringing the sinister Type R hatchback to our shores with some 300 horsepower early next year.

The Coupe Lineup

For 2016, there are five trim levels for the Honda Coupe: LX, LX-P, EX-T, EX (that’s a lot of Xs) and the top line Touring model, our test driver. The base LX with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission starts at $19,050, plus a $835 destination charge. At the top end, the Touring sticker price with the turbocharged engine and continuously-variable transmission (CVT) starts at $26,125.

Regardless of trim or engines, all 2016 Honda Coupes join Clean Fleet Report’s 40 mpg Club. Turbocharged models with the CVT score the highest EPA ratings with 42 miles-per-gallon on the highway, 31 mpg city and 35 mpg combined. Civics with the 2.0-liter four with a CVT have an estimated 41 mpg on the highway, 31 mpg city and 35 mpg combined.

A Look Under The Hood

2016 Honda Civic Coupe,engine

Power and efficiency under the hood

Powering the LX and LX-P Civic Coupe is an all-new 2.0-liter dual overhead cam (DOHC) four-cylinder engine. It produces 158 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 138 pounds-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm, making it the most powerful base engine offered in the Civic’s history.

Want a little more zest from the coupe? Also new is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four. It also is a DOHC engine with Honda’s dual variable cam timing that churns out 174 horsepower at 6,000 rpm with a peak torque of 162 pounds feet from 1,700 to 5,500 rpm. With these two new engines it marks the first time in Civic’s 43-year history that no single-cam engine is available.

If you like to shift gears, the base LX with the 2.0-liter engine is the only model that offers a six-speed manual transmission. All other models are standard with a new CVT, a transmission design that Honda introduced in 1996 on the Civic HX model. There’s a Sport mode that delays upshifting for more available power and provides greater engine braking. The CVT provides the optimum gear ratio for the driving conditions, and doesn’t have that disconnected “rubber-band” feel like some CVTs do.

It Looks Like A Civic, But…

If you’ve grown accustomed to Honda’s usual glacially slow rate of change, take a second look at the photos. Yes, it still looks like a Civic, but Honda transformed the Civic Coupe and gave it a character of its own. To call this 10th generation Civic a compact econobox would be like calling BMW’s M3 a compact-size European sedan.

The Coupe’s wheelbase is longer by more than an inch compared to the sedan, yet overall length drops by more than five-inches, all of it coming off the backside. The two-door has a sportier design than the sedan, with taught, tidy proportions. The hood features sharply defined character lines, drawing the eye forward and down to the Civic’s aggressive new face, highlighted by a chrome-plated Honda “wing” that runs the full width of the front. Honda accompanies that bold stroke with abbreviated front and rear overhangs and bulging wheel arches that cling to the wheels.

Inside, the odd double deck dashboard is gone and designers used that real estate for a wide and uniform looking dash like the sedan, yet with a little more flair. Instrument gauges are now more traditional in their setup, but no less far-reaching, with plenty of digital readouts. Steering wheel controls work well, which is a good thing because on our Touring there were few other buttons or knobs, just a screen with touch sensitive areas for controlling most everything. High quality, soft-to-the-touch materials are everywhere—the instrument panel, front door inserts and sash and door and the large thickly padded center armrest. As expected from Honda, build quality is simply superb.

Front seats—already good—have gotten better and more comfortable, and the heated leather eight-way adjustable driver’s seat made it simple to find a good driving position. There is ample room for the driver and front seat passenger, and the Coupe actually feels like a small midsize car, which technically it is.

A Back Seat Surprise—Room

2016 Honda Civic Coupe,interior, back seat

Room for adults in back

It is a two-door, so our two six-foot tall grandsons grumbled a bit when making their way into the back seat. These are big, wide-shouldered guys, but once seated, they both said they were comfortable. With temperatures dipping into the low 30s, they particularly liked that the back seat also was heated.

The Civic Coupe may appear to be a hatchback, but it has a traditional trunk with a cargo space of 11.9 cubic-feet, up slightly from the outgoing car.

Our Civic Coupe came standard with premium leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front AND rear seats, lightning-fast Bluetooth phone link, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a 10-speaker sound system with subwoofer.

Think about it. Not long ago, all of those features would have been found exclusively on expensive luxury cars. Now they’re on a spacious Civic Touring, priced out the door at $26,960, including handling charges. That price also gets you voice-recognition, remote starting and a seven-inch. electrostatic touchscreen that is loaded with entertainment options, navigation, additional climate controls and vehicle information.

Adding to the Civic Coupe Touring’s value proposition is the standard Honda Sensing, a suite of driver-assists that include forward-collision alert and automatic braking to mitigate frontal collisions; lane-departure warning and self-correcting steering to prevent unintended lane and road departures and adaptive cruise control to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead.

Behind The Steering Wheel

2016 Honda Civic Coupe,interior

A screen alone; your buttons on on the steering wheel

One of the Civic’s biggest drawing cards has been its ride. This is the most comfortable and confident Civic we’ve driven and a refreshing improvement over the outgoing car, which lost some steam and enjoyment in Honda’s drive to reduce complexity and cost. Noise levels dropped from intrusive to inconspicuous, and acceleration has been elevated from everyday adequate to invigorating.

The turbo-assisted four lagged a bit under hard acceleration, though the Sport mode tightened things, but not so much that you can’t leave it engaged, which I frequently did.  Honda finally figured out the continuously variable transmission. This one acts like a standard transmission, save for the times when I hammered it while merging onto the freeway or passing. Even then, it was fairly quiet.

The 2016 Coupe reintroduces the Civic’s proverbial agility and its front end grips the asphalt stubbornly. The little two-door tracked true at speed, abetted by terrific steering feel and a tight turning circle. It handled most chores with aplomb. Bumps were taken in stride, with good absorbency and little float or wallow. In a world where compact cars are often just driving appliances, the Civic Coupe is actually a lot of fun to drive: it’s peppy, agile and responsive, and I found myself looking for places to go. To whip up my enthusiasm even more, brakes were very efficient with good pedal modulation.

During the week with the Civic Touring, I used both the Eco and Sport modes depending on traffic conditions, terrain and—oh gee, it’s time to have some fun. When I returned the car to Honda the odometer read 200.3 miles and fuel economy registered 37.1 mpg—a couple mpgs above the EPA’s combined rating.

In The Marketplace

Two-door coupes are not high on the list of car shoppers as evidenced by the list of competitive vehicles. In the compact class there is now only one, the Kia Forte coupe — or Koupe, as Kia calls it. It’s a sporty little number that also has a turbocharged engine, a 1.6-liter four that produces 201 horsepower and is offered with a six-speed manual shifter, something that the Civic Coupe will offer at a later date. The Forte’s steering and handling are nicely balanced and the car is sporty enough to challenge the Civic Coupe. The starting price of $19,890 is line with the Honda, but fuel economy of 28 mpg combined is dismal compared Civic’s 35 mpg.

Uncommonly talented, the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe is atop the charts for all-around practically and offers a healthy dose of driving fun. A proven record of reliability, durability and high resale value make this compact two-door one you should test drive if, you are like me, smitten by a coupe’s looks.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2015 Kia Forte EX

Road Test: 2015 Scion tC

Road Test: 2016 Scion iA

Road Test: 2016 Scion iM

Road Test: 2016 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Nabs Green Car of the Year

2016 Chevrolet Volt Nabs Green Car of the Year

Five Contenders Battle for the Green Crown

Chevrolet’s all-new, second generation Volt was named 2016 Green Car of the Year at s Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The award was established by automotive publication Green Car Journal in 2006, when the Mercury Mariner Hybrid was the inaugural winner.

2016,Chevy,Chevrolet,Volt, Green Car of the Year

Winner for the second time

The Volt is the first car to win the award a second time, repeating a victory it claimed when the original plug-in hybrid debuted a half-decade ago.

“This is the first time in Green Car of the Year history that a vehicle has won the award in two succeeding model generations,” said Green Car Journal’s editor and publisher, Ron Cogan.

“Considering all the brands and models evaluated in the award program, that’s quite a statement,” Cogan said. ”The Chevrolet Volt was a standout when it won 2011 Green Car of the Year and continues in that role today as the 2016 Green Car of the Year.”

Selecting Green Car of the Year

The Green Car of the Year is selected through a majority vote by a jury that includes celebrity auto enthusiast Jay Leno, plus leaders of noted environmental and efficiency organizations, including Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, board member of Global Green USA; Dr. Alan Lloyd, President Emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation; Mindy Lubber, President of CERES; and Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. Green Car Journal editors round out the 11 award jury members.

Fuel efficiency, performance, affordability and Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certifications are criteria in selecting the initial candidates. Qualifying vehicles

2016,Audi,e-tron,A3,plug-in hybrid

Audi was a contender

have to be on sale by January 1st of the award year, in this case, 2016.

During the award’s evaluation process, judges consider all vehicles, fuels, and technologies as an expansive field of potential candidates is narrowed down to a final five. Finalists are selected for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance.

The other four finalists included:

  • The 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron. This is the German automaker’s first U.S. plug-in hybrid model. Audi has stated it will be the first of an expanding number of electrified vehicles.
  • The 2016 Honda Civic. The top-selling compact car was redesigned for 2016. It was the only finalist without a battery and electric motors.
  • The 2016 Hyundai Sonata. This Korean midsize sedan is now offered with a high-mileage gasoline engine as well as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
  • The 2016 Toyota Prius. The world’s best-selling hybrid has also gone through a complete redesign. Among other things, the new Prius has increased its fuel economy by about 10 percent.
2016,Honda,Civic,gas miser,green car of the year

The low-cost contender

You’ll notice that all of the finalists are relatively affordable cars — prices range from $19,475 for the Civic to $38,825 for the Audi.

Only cars that sell in numbers that can make an appreciable difference on the environment are eligible. That’s why Tesla’s Model S and Model X, which both sell for average prices of around $100,000, have not made the cut, even though each can travel hundreds of miles on a single charge, the longest range of any electric car.

You’ll also notice there are no diesel powered cars on the list. In October, Audi and Volkswagen were stripped of Green Car awards they won in 2009 and 2008 for their ”clean diesel” engines after it came to light that the cars had software designed to cheat on emission tests.

About The Chevrolet Volt

The original Volt and the all-new 2016 model both have a gasoline engine and an electric motor. On a full charge it runs as an electric car, but once its battery runs out the internal combustion engine fires up, giving drivers the confidence they will not be stranded if the car runs out of battery juice.

The 2016 car’s increased electric range impressed Cogan, who said, “Chevrolet’s all-new Volt is a milestone, building on an already-technologically advanced ‘green’ car and delivering what buyers

2016,Hyundai,Sonata,Hybrid,mpg,fuel economy

Hyundai Sonata competed with three variants

have longed for, including an impressive 53-mile driving range on a single charge.”

Fuel economy of the gasoline engine is also improved to an EPA-estimated 42 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. The all-new Volt delivers a total driving range of up to 420 miles.  Chevrolet expects owners to travel 1,000 miles between gasoline fill-ups.

Upon receiving the crystal award, Steve Majoros, Chevrolet marketing director said, “For Volt to stand out in Green Car’s evaluation, it reaffirms Chevrolet’s commitment to being a leader in electrification.”

Company officials say they will be making the new Green Car of the Year award a centerpiece of their 2016 Chevrolet Volt marketing campaign.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Unveiled: The 2016 Toyota Prius

Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Volt

 

Natural Gas Vehicles: A Viable Solution or Just Another Pipe Dream?

Natural Gas Vehicles: A Viable Solution or Just Another Pipe Dream?

A Look at One of the Alternatives To Petroleum

An alternative to petroleum-based fuel is urgently needed to address climate change concerns, so the search is on for a car that is not only environmentally friendly, but also something that can be easily adapted into our everyday routines. One alternative of increasingly interest, which has led to a few instances of fleets making a switch, is NGVs or natural gas vehicles.

For those unfamiliar with this technology, the vehicle in question can run on compressed natural gas (which is methane stored at high pressure) or liquified natural gas (which is usually methane in a liquid form). Originally, natural gas can come either from the same places where oil deposits are found in nature or it can come in the form of biogas (or renewable natural gas), which is created from landfills and wastewater. It’s stored like any other gas in cylinders and can be transported through dedicated pipelines.

cng tank,storage,trade-offs

Tanks A Lot (of room)

The reason why NGVs are becoming so appealing is that not only is natural gas a plentiful resource that we can produce domestically, but it is also a much cleaner burning fuel. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (via Consumer Reports), CNG can reduce carbon-monoxide emissions by 90-97% and nitrogen-oxide emissions by 35-60% when compared with gasoline. However, CNG’s aren’t completely environmentally friendly, and there is much controversy surrounding how it’s widely obtained; through hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), which can result in upstream emissions of methane if done incorrectly. The Department of Energy cites the Argonne National Library’s GREET model as stating that while natural gas does emit 6-11% less greenhouse gases than gasoline during it’s fuel life cycle, those emissions it does release are widely the result of production-phase fuel leakage. It’s also worth noting that while it may release less GHG’s than gasoline, it takes more natural gas to do the same job as gasoline because it’s less energy dense than gas. What this means is that if you were to purchase a NGV you’d have to have a bigger tank in your car and have to refill it more often than a traditional gasoline fueled car. However, the GREET model also shows that CNG’s produce around 20-45% less smog-producing pollutants and about 5-9% less greenhouse gas than gasoline powered vehicles, though recent studies are challenging the GHG reductions (though those findings are challenged in the latest California Air Resources Board analysis in its LCFS CA-GREET 2.0 model for measuring the carbon intensities of various fuels.

So, how exactly do NGVs stack up to electric vehicles? Let’s defer to a recent study from MIT, which stated that: “While both EVs and NGVs have significant infrastructure requirements, there are major differences in their relative efficiencies. An NGV does not have comparable efficiency gains relative to electrification via natural gas generation. In general, 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas, converted to electricity, yields 457 miles in an EV. This same 1,000 cf in an NGV would only have a range of around 224 miles.”

However, an article by Forbes contradicts this saying that a “four-door CNG taxi with a tank that can hold the equivalent of 15 gallons of fuel can get close to 300 miles on a tank. 200 miles is easy. Most mid-range and economy-level EVs like the Nissan Leaf get almost 100 miles on a charge.” At this point these contradicting studies could be the result of different methods of research or using different vehicles from each other. (Ed. Note: some of the confusion is comparing apples and oranges, in this case relative energy efficiencies with real-world functionality.)

Another strike against natural gas is the lack of infrastructure, high cost of storage, and lack of availability here in the U.S. While traditional gas stations are abundant, NGV fueling stations are few and far between due to the general lack

honda,civic, natural gas,cng,badge

A Badge of Honor

of demand with the DOE showing only 746 in the continental United States. Also, chances are if you do find a NGV fueling station, it’s only available to fleets belonging to companies like AT&T and UPS who use NGV’s.

However, there are companies and municipalities advocating for CNG. Honda is building a CNG gas station in Columbia, Ohio, in concert with Columbia Gas of Ohio, and some states have decided to use CNG to fuel their mass transit fleets. The Sun Tran transit line in Tucson, Arizona is fueled exclusively by CNG, and many transit agencies and other entities in the state of California has been using CNG powered buses also.

The bottom line with CNG vehicles appears to be this: We’ve got a ways to go before it becomes a truly viable option for all consumers. At this phase, while CNGs can be seen as better for the environment in some aspects, their lack of availability in the United States, paired with the shortage of public fueling stations makes them generally an impossibility for those who aren’t willing to the costly trouble of installing a home fueling station. Also, for consumers (other than fleet customers) there is only one model available, the compact Honda Civic. However, based on the dropping cost of natural gas, it’s potential to boost the American economy, and a growing concern for environmental health, it’s likely that CNG’s will pick up steam sooner rather than later. Right now they may not be the most viable option for the average person, but it’s something that we could see become commonplace in the future.

Related Stories You Might Want to Check Out:

Road Test: 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas

Electric Cars Compete with Natural Gas and Diesel for Green Car of the Year

Natural Gas

ROAD TEST: 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas

ROAD TEST: 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas

Different in a good way.

When looking at alternative fuel vehicles, hybrid, electric and diesel are the most common options based on sales and choice. One other fuel, compressed natural gas (CNG) doesn’t get much attention, probably because there is only one mass-produced CNG-fueled car on the market–the 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas. So if Honda alone believes in this technology for passenger cars, what are they seeing that their competitors aren’t and what is the future for CNG?

Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all petroleum-based fuels and it is abundant. Drive by any oil drilling rig or petroleum refinery and you will see it being burned off. With recent advances in technologies for hydraulic

Honda,Civic,CNG,natural gas,road test,nat gas,

So much the same, but different

fracturing–more commonly referred to as fracking–and capturing of gasses from landfills and other biogas sources, the natural gas supply is solid for decades to come according to industry estimates. Its cost per an equivalent gallon of gasoline runs 30% – 40% less than gas or diesel, and a CNG-fueled internal combustion engine will have a longer service life and require less maintenance because natural gas burns so cleanly, producing almost no combustion by-products into the motor oil, spark plugs or injectors.

So if natural gas is plentiful, less expensive to purchase and burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel, does owning one make sense for your lifestyle and driving patterns?

The 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas we were driving looks pretty much like the gasoline powered Civic except for the Federally mandated (for emergency responder’s safety) blue and white diamond-shaped CNG sticker on the trunk lid. When driving the Civic CNG, it feels the same as its siblings except for less power.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive, five-speed automatic Civic CNG is rated at 27 City/38 Highway with a combined 31 MPGe. The “e” is for “equivalent,” which means you are not using a gallon of liquid fuel like gasoline. The EPA has figured out how much energy is in a gallon of gas and how far it will take you–that’s MPG. So MPGe is how far you can go with the amount of CNG that has the same amount of energy as a gallon of gasoline. In CNG’s case it takes 126 cubic feet of CNG to equal the energy of a gallon of gas–and that will take you 31 miles. Add in the amount of CNG you can store in the Honda’s tank (the equivalent of 8 gallons of gasoline since it’s compressed at 3600 psi) and you end up with a range of about 190 miles. There is also an Eco button to maximize your fuel economy.

Powering the Civic CNG is a 16-valve, 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder aluminum alloy engine. It puts out 110 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque while the gasoline version brings 130 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. Without going into performance numbers, that 30 hp and 22 lb-ft of torque can make a big difference when it is time to get up and go. But maybe the trade-off for fuel economy and cost are worth it, especially if you aren’t a hot rodder.

Honda,Civic,CNG,natural gas,alt fuel

Strikingly Familar But Different

Driving Impression

The Civic CNG comes with 15-inch lightweight aluminum-alloy wheels, all-season tires, electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, power-assisted front disc and rear drum ABS brakes, MacPherson strut independent front and multi-link rear suspension, with stabilizer bars at both ends. The Civic rides comfortably but could have more steering feel. You will feel freeway bumps and hear road noise, and, while the Civic CNG is not a sports sedan or to be considered an enthusiast vehicle, it handles corners well.

The Civic CNG has smooth acceleration, but as previously noted, it is not fast off the line. With patience, it cruises right along at freeway speeds.

Interior

Finding a comfortable seating position with the manual adjustable driver’s seat and tilt and telescoping steering wheel was easy. The front bucket/rear bench seats (with a flat rear floor) can accommodate four adults with good head and leg room and the glass area provided an open, airy feeling with good visibility. Standard equipment includes A/C, power door locks and windows and cruise control.

The 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas we drove came with the 5-inch LCD color touchscreen, Honda navigation system with voice recognition, rearview camera and a database of available CNG refueling stations. The four-speaker sound system has XM and Pandora, steering wheel mounted controls, Bluetooth audio and phone hands-free link, SMS test messaging, USB interface and MP3/Auxiliary input jacks.

None of the goodies are worth a thing if the car isn’t safe to drive. The 2013 Civic CNG I was driving had six airbags, ABS with front-wheel disc brakes, power door mirrors, Vehicle Stability Assist, rearview color camera,

honda,CNG,natural gas,Civic,

A different hose – not too much pressure

tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and side-impact door beams with front and rear crumple zones. The Civic is rated at four stars for frontal driver and passenger front impacts and five star for front side driver and passenger and rear passenger impacts.

 

Honda,Civic,CNG,natural gas,trunk

The trunk’s not half of what it used to be

There are two areas the CNG version compromises the long-range driving comfort and its capabilities compared to the gasoline version. To accommodate the CNG tank, the trunk has been reduced to being able to carry two small suitcases and, because of the tank, the rear seats do not fold flat nor is there a pass through for long items.

Exterior

The look of the Civic CNG is contemporary and holds its own within the compact car category. Up front there is an attractive black honeycomb grill, lower air dam with a stylishly placed chrome accent piece with wrap-around clear lens headlights and cornering lights. In back the rear bumper has an upswept design with a low access for the trunk opening.

The Fueling Process

Your Honda dealer will provide a list of local CNG stations but you will be best served by going to websites such as these:

Once at the station, which will almost always be a 24/7 unmanned operation, you will swipe a major credit card and then, if it is your first time fueling, watch a short instructional video on the pump. The video will give you a three-number code and then explains how to attach the hose end to the fitting on the car and the sequence to start fueling. It is a very simple process with a full tank taking only minutes to fill. After doing it once you will be a seasoned pro.

A note about CNG fueling stations. Many of them will be located in an industrial setting and will not be freeway close. They can be buried amongst storage yards and transportation centers where you will be pulling-up alongside city buses and trash trucks. Until more CNG vehicles are offered by manufacturers the fueling locations will be more for local traffic and not road warriors traveling the freeways.

A final fueling note: compressed natural gas is more sensitive to temperatures than the gasoline or diesel we’re all used to. Experienced CNG users will tell you the fillups you get on a cool morning compared to a hot afternoon can vary significantly with the cooler temperatures resulting in a more complete fill. Similarly, fast-fill facilities that can refuel a CNG car in roughly the same time as a gas or diesel one, tend to provide a less complete fill than slow-fill operations. 

Pricing & Warranties

The 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas NV I was driving was fully optioned with a MSRP of $28,755, which included a $790 Destination Charge.

For those in California, the Civic CNG automatically qualifies for the coveted HOV sticker which allows driving in the Carpool lane even with just the driver. If you haven’t heard the stories, people buy the Civic CNG just for this benefit.

The 2013 Civic CNG NV warranties include:

Honda,civic,CNG,natural gas,refueling

Done under pressure & looking like the competition

 

• 3 Year/36,000 miles: New-Vehicle

• 5 Year/60,000 miles: Powertrain

• 3 Year/36,000 miles: Honda Genuine Accessories

• 1 Year: Replacement Honda Genuine Parts

• 3 Year/36,000 miles: Honda Genuine Remanufactured Parts

• 5-Year/Unlimited mile: Corrosion

 

 

Observations: 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas

The Honda Civic has been part of the United States driving scene since 1973 with more than 8.8 million sold; the natural gas version joined the fray in 1998. Honda owners are famously loyal to the brand with many of them thinking owning anything other than a Honda to be unthinkable. If you are in the market for a Civic, there are several models to chose from in a fairly broad price range. Here is a quick look at three base Civic models:

Civic LX lists at $18,165 and gets 28/36/31 (City/Freeway/Combined mpg)

Civic Hybrid lists at $24,360 and gets 44/44/44

Civic CNG lists at $26,465 and gets 27/38/31

Since you can get a gasoline-powered Civic that gets comparable fuel economy for $8,000 less than the CNG version and the Hybrid for $2,000 less that gets considerably better fuel economy, why would you consider the Civic CNG?

Two big reasons: The cost of CNG is 30 – 40 percent less than unleaded gasoline, making your cost per mile driven very low. And if you live in California, the car gets you into the carpool lane with a single driver, which is no small thing in the Golden State!

So where do you fit in as a future Civic CNG owner? Since the Civic CNG has a range of under 200 miles and has limited storage space, this car should be high on your shopping list if the majority of your driving is the in-town or freeway commuting type. The result is a car that will work well for you.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

The Future of CNG Vehicles (By Michael Coates)

With natural gas pump prices cheap and everyone from T. Boone Pickens to President Obama talking up the use of American energy, you might think that CNG-powered passenger cars would be a hot topic among automakers. After all, it’s not exotic technology; many car companies have natural gas models marketed around the world. But it’s not happening in the U.S. for now and lacking any major government push (such as the current one behind electric and plug-in vehicles), it appears they will continue to be a small niche. It is unlikely, even if other automakers market models to compete with the Civic, that this segment will achieve numbers that would warrant much attention. The Civic, after all these years on the market sells only a couple thousand natural gas versions with a good number of those going to government fleets.

The number of CNG offerings for fleets have increased extensively in recent years as government incentives (for vehicle purchase and infrastructure development) and low fuel prices have pushed fleets to consider

Honda,Civic,CNG,natural gas

The badge of access

natural gas pickups and vans. These work for the same reason many alternatives to gasoline or diesel do – the duty cycle or daily drive of the vehicle fits the limited fueling infrastructure and needs of the owner.

One arena where natural appears to be making some inroads is in medium- and heavy-duty trucks – the large trucks you see hauling loads in town and out on the highway. In recent years natural gas engines have increased in size and horsepower and have become a true alternative to the traditional diesel engine. But even with exponential growth, natural gas trucks still only comprise a few percentage points of the total new truck market in these sectors. All of the major truck makers offer natural gas-powered models and some specific applications, such as refuse trucks, are racking up some impressive sales numbers.

One issue that is just beginning to play out could spell the future – positively or negatively – for natural gas, and that is the ultimate environmental tally on fracking. As noted above, the technique of hydraulic fracturing has helped produce the abundant and cheap domestic natural gas. However, several environmental groups have started to raise alarms about the global warming gases emitted as part of the fracking process and have questioned the overall benefit of using natural gas in vehicles (using it to create electricity or heat homes lends itself to a different environmental conclusion). Recent government and academic studies have questioned the environmental and health impacts of fracking and found that it may be best to proceed cautiously.   

Competitor Vehicles

The Civic CNG’s closest rivals are the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the Toyota Prius c and the Chevrolet Cruze Eco.

Words & Photos By John Faulkner

Posted March 1, 2014

Related stories you might want to check out:

Volkswagen Jetta TDI & Hybrid

Toyota Prius c Test Drive

Chevy Cruze Diesel Road Test

Smart EV Wins Best Eco Car Award

Smart EV Wins Best Eco Car Award

Small but top of the list

Small Cars Lead List of Greenest Automobiles.

Maybe it’s the time of year. We’ve got Olympics competition and all of the medals and ranking of athletes and countries that goes with that. We’ve got the Academy Awards and all of those statuettes. So it makes sense that this is the awards season for automobiles as well. Magazines hand out their “Best of” trophies and multitudinous “Top 10” lists. We’ve been guilty of that as well.

So, recognizing that the value of a Top 10 list may be in direct proportion to its focus, we’d like to present the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s Top 10 Greenest Cars and throw in some explanation and commentary. Let’s start with the list:

  1. Smart ForTwo ED – pure electric – two-seat minicar
  2. Toyota Prius c – hybrid – subcompact
  3. Nissan Leaf – pure electric – compact
  4. Toyota Prius – hybrid

    toyota-prius-plug-in-price drop

    Toyotas dominate the Eco list

  5. Honda Civic Hybrid – hybrid – compact
  6. Lexus CT 200h – hybrid – compact
  7. Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid – plug-in hybrid –
  8. Mitsubishi Mirage – gasoline – compact
  9. Honda Civic Natural Gas – natural gas – compact
  10. Honda Insight – hybrid – compact

Bubbling just below the list were the conventional Smart ForTwo and the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. Our colleague Jim Motavelli of Plugincars.com did some digging into the criteria used to rank the “greenness” of the cars. He found that the weight of a vehicle was a big factor in the non-profit group’s “complex” formula along with manufacturing-related emissions.  The ACEEE’s summary of their methodology is explained this way:

“We analyze automakers’ test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, along with other specifications reported by automakers. We estimate pollution from vehicle manufacturing, from the production and distribution of fuel and from vehicle tailpipes. We count air pollution, such as fine particles, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and other pollutants according to the health problems caused by each pollutant. We then factor in greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) and combine the emissions estimates into a Green Score that runs on a scale from 0 to 100. The top vehicle this year scores a 59, the average is 37 and the worst gas-guzzlers score around 17.”

As you can see by the scores, it’s a tough test and no one does that well. ACEEE is 30-plus-year-old nonprofit organization that is very serious about promoting energy efficiency. But I see as the subtext of the ACEEE’s approach a negative view of the private automobile. What kind of ranking has the best  contestants scoring 60 percent? The curve with these guys starts low and goes down from there. Cars are bad, but some are worse than others.

ford,F-150,aluminum,lightweighting,EcoBoost

Eco trucks should also be on the list

Our approach at Clean Fleet Report is a little more accommodating. We believe people need a variety of different vehicles for different uses and different situations. Yes, vehicles have negative environmental impacts, but so do most other activities. We should be aware of them and do our best to minimize or mitigate them, but activity cannot stop because of a heavy vehicle or fuel economy that doesn’t reach Prius levels. We know that full-size pickup trucks are unlikely to ever reach Prius-level MPG; that’s basic physics. They can get better and we’re reporting on that regularly because you should be able to choose the best vehicle for the job.

Not that ACEEE doesn’t also make a nod toward the different uses of vehicles, breaking out the best vehicles by class in their list, but I’m afraid being told the best vehicle in a class scored a 35 out of a possible 100 is not exactly a ringing endorsement – nor does it make anyone who values these ratings a likely buyer.

For my money, I think  you need to do what we do here at Clean Fleet Report, evaluate vehicles in the real world and show their capabilities and deficiencies, with a heavy weight given to environmentally positive attributes. But putting a two-seat, 8-foot-long Smart on the same list as a full-size half-ton pickup doesn’t give the reader very valuable information.

Photos by Michael Coates and the manufacturers

Posted Feb. 23, 2014

Related article you might enjoy:

Pickups Pick Up MPG

My Top 10 Cars & Trucks for 2014

Top 10 Fuel Economy Cars for 2014