Has anyone tried the CNG Civic?

Has anyone tried the compressed natural gas Civic? I'm not sure when they'll be sold to the public (sometime this spring), but they're already in fleet use.
Honda claims that they have the same performance as other Civics, but I find that hard to believe, given that both the horsepower and the torque are lower than in the gasoline-powered sedan. Can the CVT make that much difference?
Too bad Honda doesn't make a biodiesel Accord - that would give the best of all worlds - long range, power, clean, and somewhat easy to refuel.
-- Jack Hamilton Sacramento, California -- <> Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit. <> Franois VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld
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I had one in a volvo 340 from the early 80s. the cvt kept the engine always at peak torque, so engine was most efficient, and ran great, power always on tap.

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K`Tetch wrote:

i second that. always in /exactly/ the best gear for the engine. not tried the honda cvt, but the principle is very good.

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It is sold in Southern CA under GX model and their ads are running crazy on every commercials here.

I think GX is over price. It costs $1000 more than the Hybrid model and only lasts 200 miles per fill up. I am not sure that you can get tax credit from an CNG car. But you can certainly drive it alone at car pool lane.

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Hi Jack
I have owned and run my own Honda Civic GX for 3 years - privately purchased from Honda in San Francisco. Its the best commute car I have ever owned from cost perspective and its definently not the best car for seeing off beat california at the weekends. Saying that I have driven it to San Diego from San jose for a summer vacation and San Jose to South Lake Tahoe for a weeks ski-ing in earley March this year.
I'm not sure I would agree with Hondas statement either about the same performance as other Civics but I've never owned a non-CNG Civic so I can't confirm 100%. The Civic GX is definently not going to take you from 0-60 in less than 10seconds and reaching 100mph could be a challenge. The CVT definently delivers a more constant flow of power to the wheels when accelerating from stand still unlike a normal automatic that would noticeably step through the gearing(or the last automtic I sued certainly did). Saying that its definently not a master piece the CVT definently has challenges in certain environments like not holding on hills in san francisco, engine races when driving down steep hills and a few other bizzare effects that I've learned to live with as I appreciate this is not a $50k precision engineered performance vehicle. I have found over the last three years whilst doing my 51K of commute miles around the bay area the car does best between 65-70mph from a fuel consumption perspective. So if you drive the car in the carpool lane doing 80+mph which I did during my first few weeks of purchasing the car, you quickly realise the miles per tank are very very low and your spending more time fueling up that you expected. During this first few weeks I would maybe get about 100-ish miles to the tank. I now drive around a maxium of 65-70mph and I get a regular 140-150mph for a 3/4 tank - I never let the tank go below 1/4 because if the next re-fueling station you visit to has problems then you need to get the car to the next station but that station maybe 30 miles away. I've only had that happen 2-3 times in the last 3 years but it can happen and the natural gas fueling stations are not on every street corner like standard gasoline fueling stations. So it takes some getting used to as running a natural gas car requires a different mind set. The conveniece factor is out the window and you need to have a re-fueling plan as a priority. Why? If you run out of gas in this car your screwed - there is no walking to the nearest station to fill a canister with natural gas and don't think about calling AAA to help you with re-fueling. The car is going to require a tow to the nearest re-fueling station. If that re-fueling station is 25-30 miles away then your AAA towing service may only cover the first 5 miles so your going to end up with a hefty towing charge. Fortunately, I have never experience this as I alway re-fuel with 1/4 tank remaining which seems to have served me well but it certainly was close a few times. I never purchased the home fueling unit which definently would have made things easier but I live in rented accomodation so that wasn't an option for me. I think the re-fueling would be made much easier if you had the home unit so you could slow fill every night thus you shouldn't really need to think about fueling unless your heading off on a road trip. I have done a number of road trips in my honda civic GX (south lake tahoe, LA and San diego) it just take a bit more planning to identify the route and re-fueling schedule prior to heading off on your journey. For example, if you want to drive from san jose to LA the 5 is not an option as their are no re-fueling stations so its highway 99 or 101. Why? because these are the only highways that follow main californian gas pipelines with re-fueling facilites dotted along them in towns like Salinas, San Luis Obisbo, Santa Barbara etc..... Anyway, the reason for me mentioning my road trip is I have managed to easily get over 200 miles per tank when doing these long journeys and keeping a steady speed of 70mph or lower. Many of the non-PG&E fueling stations offer the large fill service 3600psi not just the small fill of 3000psi which is still the norm at most PG&E stations. These 3600psi fills definently help out with getting the extra mileage out of the car on those long road trip plus it really helps with the weekly commute as it can mean getting an extra days commute. I have also noticed some of the fueling stations calibration of fill seems to vary with the 3000psi PG&E giving anything from less than 3000psi up to 3500psi and I have also seen other companies re-fueling 3600psi pumps going as far as 4000psi. I always use the 4000psi fueling station before heading off on a long roadtrip as it really helps with flexability when it comes to reach the next station to fuel and building in a buffer incase of problems. I guess the big question your asking now is how much does it cost to fuel up? I did 900 miles in march and my total gas bill for the month was $45 and february I did about 1100 miles and my bill was $50. I really need to look at my gas bills for the last 12 months to get a much better idea on the cost to run etc but I recon its definently cheaper than a normal civic but I'm not sure if it does better than a hybrid civic. I have also heard the gas from the home fill unit is cheaper than the PG&E fueling station gas which would drop the fuel costs further. From my bills it looks like I pay $1.40 per therm (procurement+transportation) and my home bill for the same month states $1.11 per therm. My PG&E car Natural gas bill for february was based upon purchasing 36 therms at a rate of $1.40=$50. If I had used the home fill those 36 therms would have been charged at a rate of $1.11 per therm thus 36 therms would have cost $40. Wow - this is the first time I've done this calculation and at a further saving of $10 per month the $1000 home fill unit would pay for its self in 10-12 months. Ok, so at $40 for 1100 miles - I really don't think the hybrid Civic can compete with that as I think the Hybrid civic has a 12Gallon tank which would cost $30 to fill based upon $2.50 per gallon price. So a few quick searches on google informed me a civic hybrid can do about 500miles per tank of gasoline so the civic hybrid would need to fills to get about the same mileage as I did in my natural gas car in february and it would cost the hybrid owner about $60 but it cost me $50 but I could get it down to $40 with a home fill unit. **Note : These figures are very rough estimates. So I think it comes down to, is the inconvenience of the natural gas Civic GX worth $20 per month to me? I guess thats $240 per year and $1200 after five years. Personally, I'm not sure its worth $20 per month saving as I'd prefer not have to buy another car or rent a car for the weekend just so I can take a trip to Yosemite or shasta.
So before this turns into a book on owning and running a natural gas car I can recommend owning & running the honda Civic GX as a commute car as it has done a brilliant job of that task for me during the last three years. But running a Honda Civic GX as your only car may not be the best option as it will definently limit you when it comes to weekend trips away. So I think if this had been a dual-fuel car it would have been the perfect car providing cheap clean fuel for my commute miles and expensive dirty fuel for my weekend trips away.
hope this info helps and definently think long & hard before taking the leap into the Natural gas car world as its definently an adventure.
Mike Anderson
Jack Hamilton wrote:

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