2007 Honda Civic Long-Term Road Test

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2007 Honda Civic GX: Fuel Economy Up, Costs Down

May 09, 2008

Hey, Hey! We Won't Pay! Home fuel unit has CNG cost down to $2.04 a gallon. After just over 16,000 miles -- hard plastic , intruding hand brake, pitifully poor acceleration and boring exterior notwithstanding -- the Civic GX is humming along quite nicely, and economically, thank you.

For sheer driving pleasure it's way down the queue, but as a daily commuter on Southern California's [insert colorful adjective of your choice here] freeways, it ranks way up at the top of my list of cars I want to keep using.

Except for two scheduled oil changes at 7,000 mile intervals, a recall to install a safety gasket and a round of tire adjustment when we discovered during Edmunds.com's Earth Day tire pressure project that inflation was high by about 2 pounds, or 6 percent, per tire, we've had no problems, although one might be developing.

We'll be making a service appointment because several of us have noticed a very slight and intermittent shiver or shudder when the car is idling. It's unpredictable, but most assuredly there. Feels like it might be caused by a clogged fuel injector nozzle.

It's not so significant that we're thinking of an immediate check up, but we'll be asking the service guys at the dealership to look at it during our next scheduled oil change, in about 5,000 miles.

Aside from that, things couldn't be better, especially since the home fueling unit was installed in my garage. That has ended the daily detour to find a retail CNG station and has lowered the GX's fuel bills considerably.

Regular gasoline is selling for $3.839 a gallon in my part of Southern California and CNG at the admittedly pricey Clean Energy pump near the office is going for $2.849. But $2.036 per gallon is what fuel from the natural gas pump in the garage cost during the past month.

That's a 46.8 percent savings over the cost of fuel for a conventional gasoline-burning Civic LX and is 28.5 percent cheaper than fuel from the Clean Energy outlet.

The per gallon cost for the GX for April also is down considerably from $2.53 per gallon we computed for March, largely because the April bill from the Southern California Gas Co. included a discount the utility offers households that have a home CNG fueling unit.

It cut the average price of natural gas to $1.11 per therm (that's equal to 0.784 gallon-equivalent when the gas is compressed and pumped into the car via the Phill fueling unit.

Add the Phill's share of the monthly meter fee from the gas company (about $4.50 in April) and a few bucks for electricity to run the pump (based on our five-year averaging method it was $7.29 for April) and you'll get a total of $53.93 for the CNG equivalent of 26.496 gallons of fuel.

The per-gallon price will bounce around a bit each month because of minor adjustments based on total household usage of both natural gas and electricity, but I'm expecting it to stick close to the $2 per gallon mark and will let you know if it gets off that mark by more than a dime on either side.

Meantime, fuel economy continues creeping up, thanks in large part to the increased density of fill we're getting with the home fueling unit. (A denser fill means more energy per gallon, thus better mileage.)

Overall average since we put the Civic GX into our longterm fleet last June is now is 29.96 mpg, up from 29.38 mpg the last time we figured it 2,385 miles ago and a 5 percent, or 1.5 mpg improvement, from the 28.4 miles per gallon average we recorded over the first 5,234 miles we drove the car.

Better yet, in the month since we computed the first home fueling bill, the Civic GX has averaged 31.16 mpg.

John O'Dell, Senior Editor, Green Car Advisor @ 16,171 miles.

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