No, it’s not the fastest or the most exotic automobile on the road, but it may well be one of the cleanest. The Honda Civic GX, currently limited to consumers in New York and California, earns its spic-and-span reputation because its 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine is powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). As the only vehicle certified by the EPA to meet both the Federal Tier 2 Bin 2 and Inherently Low Emission Vehicle (ILEV) certification standards, the GX has the green-friendly credentials to please any do-gooder bent on fighting America’s gasoline addiction.
Honda claims that this vehicle can achieve a fuel economy of up to 36 mpg with highway driving, and that the car’s range extends to approximately 225-250 miles on a full tank. While its range is enough for most daily commutes, long distance road trips will be a problem as there are only a smattering of CNG stations throughout the country. To compensate for the lack of infrastructure, Honda offers drivers the option of buying Phill, a home-based natural gas fueling device that can refill the car’s tank overnight.
As a daily driver, the GX retains the comfortable, smooth-running and well-rounded appeal of the Civic’s other trims, though its cramped trunk (because of an oversized CNG tank) won’t be able to store too many groceries. Creature comforts include steering wheel-mounted controls, rear-seat heater ducts and a 160-watt audio system that features two speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability, and speed-sensitive volume control. In spite of being pricey, buyers can take advantage of special tax credits to help whittle down the cost while enjoying the GX’s alternative approach to driving. Since it is an alternative fuel vehicle, drivers also get perks like free parking at meters and the use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes.