2007 Honda Civic GX: Draining it Dry, Almost.
December 10, 2007
They told me when I joined the Edmunds team that I would probably be the designated driver for the long-term 2007 Honda Civic GX because I was the "green" guy and because, frankly, nobody wanted to put up with the hassles of finding the natural gas pumps the car requires and worrying about running out of fuel and being left high and dry.
A look at our fuel log over the almost six months the GX has been in the fleet bears that out. Only eight members of the staff have driven it, and most of them only once.
The average distance traveled between fill-ups of compressed natural gas has been well under 150 miles and only once has anyone had to put more than the equivalent of 6.5 gallons of fuel into the 8-gallon tank that's supposed to be good for an average of 224 miles.
Well, we pushed the limits the other day, watching the little light bars on the fuel gauge -- about 0.4 gallons-equivalent per bar --blink out until they all were gone and the bright amber "low fuel" light was all that was aglow on that side of the instrument panel.
The occasion was a round-trip drive to La Jolla from the city of Orange in Orange County -- near D-land for those not familiar with the geography.
Most of it was done at speeds of 65-85 mph on the San Diego Freeway. The top end of that range certainly isn't best for fuel effiicency, but if you travel at less than 80 on the stretch between the San Onofre nuclear power station and the city of Oceanside you are liable to be run over by everyone else -- makes you think everyone's trying to get as far from the power plant as quickly as possible.
Anyhow, at the end of the trip, with that fuel warning light burning away, we pulled in to a CNG station near home and pumped in 6.345 gallons. Paid $16.81 for it, or $2.649 a gallon on a day regular gasoline was going for about $3.30.
The trip odometer read 210.4 miles -- the first time it's topped 200 -- and our fuel economy for the trip came out to 33.16 miles per gallon. The GX is EPA rated at 24 mpg in the city, 35 on the highway and 28 for the combined cycle.
A friend from Northern Califonria who's been driving a GX for several years says CNG stations abound up there, so for our next distance run we're thinking a spring trek to the Russian River wine country just below Mendocino. That'll let us test the fuel supply infrastructure, push the mileage a bit and see how much old vine Zinfandel we can squeeze into the GX's truncated trunk.
And if we run out of fuel before we run into a CNG station, we'll also be able to report on the eficiency of the Northern California AAA tow service.
John O'Dell, Senior Editor, Edmunds Green Car Advisor @ 6756 miles.