The 2012 Honda Civic has already spawned coupe, sedan, hybrid, and sporty Si models, but the newest version have the greenest thumb of them all: say hello to the long-awaited 2012 Civic Natural Gas, available this month for $26,905.
We say long-awaited because, as of July of this year, the Civic Natural Gas (formerly dubbed the GX) sits atop a list of cars that can use California’s famed carpool lanes–a list that got much smaller when exemption stickers for hybrids expired in July. Since then, demand spiked for the GX, but the CNG-fueled take on the new 2012 Civic had yet to go on sale.
That changes come October 18th, when the car will be available at 200 specially trained Honda dealers in 35 states. That’s 31 states more than the previous GX model, which was only sold in California, New York, Utah, and Oklahoma. Honda says the Civic Natural Gas’ status as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) qualifies it for most carpool lane exemption stickers (which let single-occupant cars use carpool lanes) within those 35 states.
The Civic Natural gas is powered by a revised version of the Civic’s standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Running on CNG, the engine pumps out 110 horsepower and 106 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Thanks in part to the addition of Honda’s new Eco Assist button, which remaps throttle response in pursuit of fuel economy, the new Civic Natural Gas earns an EPA fuel economy rankingof 27 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, which is up 12.5 percent and 5.5 percent over the old GX, respectively.
Fuel is stored in an aluminum-lined 3600-psi fuel tank mounted between the rear wheels, and holds the equivalent of 7.8 gallons of gasoline. Honda says that the total range between fill ups increased just under 11 percent over the old model, although the company abstained from providing an actual estimate.
Inside the car, it’s business as usual: the Natural Gas features the same five-inch multi information display to the right of the speedometer, Bluetooth connectivity, and a USB audio input found on other 2012 Civics. For an extra $1500, buyers can upgrade their Natural Gas Civics to add a GPS navigation system, which thankfully is programmed with a database of CNG filling stations.
So, carpool-lane aficionados who are unwilling to buy electric cars: until California tweaks its regulations again next year to allow plug-in hybrids to gain exemption stickers, this may be your car…