Honda’s Natural Gas Civic is Named Green Car of the Year

Honda's Natural Gas Civic© RCruger

Honda Civic Natural Gas at LA Auto Show

Honda’s natural gas-powered Civic has been named Green Car of the Year. Selected from five nominees, the car took the honors at a kick-off ceremony for the Los Angeles Auto Show (November 18-27).

The Green Car Journal presented the award to Honda for the car's near-zero emissions, a 200-mile range, and combined average of 31 mpg (highways and streets) with a clean combustion engine.

The vehicle looks like a Civic and rides like a Civic. I got a chance to drive it, along with a variety of other “green” vehicles, and found it to ride like my own Honda Civic Hybrid. For an alternative fuel vehicle it seemed like a normal car, perhaps a touch quieter. Super-low emissions means it gets white HOV lane stickers as a perk. (I have yellow which doesn’t allow me in the carpool lane any longer as a solo driver in California.)

CNG display on navigation system© RCruger

Navigation system shows closest compressed natural gas refueling stations.

The navigation system onboard shows a database of public Compressed Natural Gas refueling stations close by -- and -- on checking, I discovered there was one just 2.4 miles away. As part of Honda’s variety of alternatives to gasoline, the automaker announced it will expand its network of Civic Natural Gas outlets from four to 36 states and 200 dealers.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas car was available as of October 2011 and retails for $26,155, not unreasonable for a five passenger sedan.

It’s also the only natural gas car built in the U.S., at Honda’s award-winning zero waste Indiana plant, so it also means shipping within the U.S. lowers the footprint.

The jurors for Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year Award included Carl Pope, chair of the Sierra Club, Frances Beinecke, president of the NRDC, Jean-Michel Cousteau, head of Ocean Futures Society, Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA, the Tonight Show’s Jay Leno, a car enthusiast who promotes alternative fuel vehicles, and auto designer Carroll Shelby.

Honda booth at LA Auto Show© RCruger

The array of Honda's green vehicles from electric to hybrid to natural gas.

I got a peek at Honda’s display on the showroom floor with its full fleet of alternative fueled vehicles: the Civic Hybrid, new Insight Hybrid, sporty CR-Z Hybrid, the FCX Clarity (hydrogen fuel cell), and its electric vehicle, the Fit-EV – coming soon. (To sign up for the Fit-EV, register online, available in 2012 for a 3-year lease at $399/month.) And next year, Honda will introduce a plug-in hybrid.

Of the 50 debuts and 1000 vehicles at the show, Honda’s Civic Natural Gas stood out. The other nominees included Volkswagen's Passat TDI (diesel), Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i (electric), and the Toyota Prius V station wagon -- all representing the growing options and, as the Auto Show press material stated, how "green has gone mainstream."

More on Natural Gas Vehicles
Honda Shows 2012 Civic Concept, Expands Natural Gas Availability
Does Converting Utility Vans to Natural Gas Make Sense?
L.A. Metro Retires Last Diesel Bus, Now Relies on Cleaner CNG Buses

Honda’s Natural Gas Civic is Named Green Car of the Year
The award by Green Car Journal -- recognizing near zero emissions, a 200-mile range, and a combined average of 31mpg -- kicks off the LA Auto Show.

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