January 07, 2010
Our natural gas Civic does not like rough pavement. Last night I was puttering home and rolled up to a stop sign. The pavement leading up to the intersection was riddled with small potholes and choppy asphalt and the Civic did not take kindly to it. Under normal braking, I felt the front wheels wash away as the tires struggled to find grip - almost like I was trying to stop on gravel. It was something I hadn't noticed before, so I began paying closer attention to the car's suspension. Next was a right turn that forked-off of the main boulevard. I knew this turn well, since in my earlier years, I used to use a mid-corner bump to gleefully pitch my old musclecar into a brief little slide. Even at sensible speeds without intentionally trying to upset the Civic, it too stepped out just slightly as it rolled over the bump. I was not impressed.
I checked the tires first. The stock Dunlop SP Sport 5000s looked fine with plenty of tread. I can't imagine the shocks are already worn, since we don't beat on the Civic like a sports car, nor do we load the trunk with heavy cargo (especially since the trunk is tiny). According to our specs, the Civic GX only weighs about 100 pounds more than a gas-powered EX, so I can't write it off to any added natural-gas weight. It's a mystery to me, so I'll let keymaster Schmidt know about it. Maybe it needs a second opinion.
Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 36,922 miles
November 05, 2009
So after spending last weekend in our Mini E and jumping into our 2007 Honda Civic GX last night, I think I'm able to develop a quasi-educated opinion about our two green cars. As you already know the Honda is our natural gas long-termer, the Mini E our electric car.
Honda Civic GX
- Even though it has a small trunk at least you can carry three passengers.
- Awesome fuel range.
- Can fill at home with Phill
- Ours has a single occupant car-pool lane sticker. Woo!
- The limited availability of natural gas fueling stations makes it tricky for planning long road trips.
- Not fun to drive but at all.
- Still retains some of its gokartness.
- I find it easy to drive in stop-and-go traffic once I got used to taking my foot of the accelerator to slow down, etc.
- No gas required.
- Can charge it at home even without a specially installed wall charger.
- With only two seats and a tiny trunk, you can't haul much around.
- Takes a lonnnng time to recharge.
- Very limited driving range means you have to carefully plan your trips or take none at all.
- Would have to be your second car.
Which one do I prefer?
Um. Hmmm. If I HAD to choose one, eeesh.....I guessssss, huh, I'd say the Mini. But remember, I'm a single city dweller who likes fun cars (the Mini for me is more fun to drive than the Civic) and who likes the idea of no gasoline. And for long road trips, I have the Edmunds fleet to choose from. Suffice it to say, not everyone will share my opinion. But then again, after two years in our fleet the Honda Civic GX has inspired only 55 posts. The Mini E after only four months? 70. Just sayin'.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 35,301 miles (2007 Honda Civic GX)
October 02, 2009
Hopped in the long-term Civic GX this morning and noticed that the floormat was scooched up over the base of the pedal.
I wouldn't normally have noticed - it wasn't much of a scooch - but I'd just written a piece about that massive Toyota safety campaign and pending recall for scrunched-up floor mats that were jamming gas pedals, so the subject was on my mind.
The Honda's mat has a fairly elaborate securing system under the front edge of the driver's seat, and best I can figure it wasn't fastened after being cleaned at the car wash.
Fortunately, the Civic GX's pedal is floor mounted, so there's no gap between pedal and floor for the mat to slip into and cause a jam - the problem, apparently, with those 3.8 million Toyotas and Lexuses with pedals that hang down from the firewall and don't touch the floor.
Way to go, Honda!
An yeah, I drove all the way to the office - 54 miles on the freeway - before unscooching the mat and resecuring it.
July 28, 2009
There's not much new to say about the Civic GX - it still runs like a top, albeit one that's a bit slow to wind up; hasn't given us any trouble and except for a little body work after a fender-bender hasn't been in the shop other than for oil changes and one brake job (a problem with Civics).
The first major service isn't scheduled until 100,000 miles - that's about 67,000 miles from now - and I've every reason to believe it will get there just fine.
Not sure about its home fueling companion, though.
Our Phill is about 25 percent through its apparently artificial lifespan of 6,000 hours.
The installer pointed this out to me when he hung the unit on the garage wall: FuelMaker programmed the software to shut the system down at 6,000 hours to ensure that nothing bad would happen - and, probably, to make a little more money as the approved route was to ship it back to FuelMaker for a $2,000 rebuild.
FuelMaker's gone now, and a new company - Fuel System Solutions - has taken over, promising to continue making home units and repairing Phills.
We don't know yet how FSS is going to handle stuff, but we're hoping that its installers and repair people will be allowed to reprogram the thing so that it keeps running as long as its parts allow.
I ran the "hours of service" check this morning - for the first time - and found that our Phill has somewhere between 1,500 and 1,749 hours on its clock (instrumentation is minimal, just a set of lights that come on in a coded sequence to tell you the range of hours that the pump's been operating.
If anyone at Fuel System Solutions is listening: put a real clock on the new units, please, along with a gauge that records how much natural gas flows through. The lack of either is a big flaw on the present model.
Back to the Civic GX - I haven't been driving it much lately because I've been working from home for a bit and haven't been commuting.
But I'm headed to the airport in the morning and unlike the other 50,000 or so people who'll be crowding the freeway about then, I'm looking forward to the drive - CNG cars here in California are considered "Clean Air Cars" because of their very low emissions and for that reason get a single-occupancy carpool lane pass.
John O'Dell, Senior Editor, Green Car Advisor
July 01, 2009
It's been two months since I last drove our Honda Civic GX, and unlike most of my colleagues, I'm actually looking forward to getting back behind the wheel.
I've enjoyed the natural gas-fueled Civic ever since I started using it back in October of 2007 for most of my daily commuting between my home in Orange and Edmunds' offices in Santa Monica - not because it's a particularly exciting car to drive but because it is the ideal Southern California long-distance commuter car.
It comes with a single occupant car-pool lane sticker, which cuts about an hour a day from my 100 mile-plus round trip; it's saved hundreds of dollars on fuel and, with a Phill home fueling unit in my garage (thank you, boss!) I don't have to worry about where my next tank will come from.
And consider this: Fuel consumption has averaged 32.8 mpg over the last 19,000 miles, and the average cost of fillingl its tank from the home natural gas pump is a mere $1.22 per gasoline gallon-equivalent. That's for both the natural gas and the electricity to compress and pump it.
So even though it's sluggish off the line and pretty basic in the amenities department (power windows and locks, AC, base Honda stereo and that's it), it's been nice to have around - sort of like a longtime acquaintance who's always reliable but doesn't demand much attention from day to day.
I've not been driving it because of a pinched nerve in my back that's made sitting in the Civic's low-slung seat somewhere between awfully uncomfortable and incredibly painful for the 90 minutes I spend on the freeway most mornings and evenings on days I drive into Santa Monica.
What's even more painful though is the time it takes to commute on some of the nation's most crowded freeways without being able to legally jump into the carpool lane - and, of course, the amount of cash I have to fork over to fill the SUV I've been driving because its chair-height seats are easier on the back during a long commute.
But I've managed recently to get the discomfort level down to a steadily bearable ache - you gotta love those steroids - so I'm climbing back aboard the Civic GX.
In the SUV I've been paying $3.13 a gallon for its required premium fuel and averaging 20.3 mpg on the commute. That's about $17.25 per round trip.
Compare that to the Civic GX's $4.01 per round trip and its easy to see why I'm happy to get back behind its wheel, and to heck with a little back pain.
Warren is absolutely correct in his recent post - having a Phill does make a huge difference. And Erin's right about the temporary unavailability of the Phill (although there are other - albeit larger and more expensive - natural gas pumps on the market).
But I don't agree with Mark's comment that the GX is only for people with a Phill and that for the rest it's a "pricey novelty" at best.
It certainly wouldn't work in Ohio, or Alabama, but there are places were natural gas fuel is readily available: the LA basin is one - there are 5 retail natural gas stations along the main freeway I use when commuting to the office instead of working at home (that's one every 11 miles on average).
There are 79 public stations within a 240-miles radius of the office - the approximate range of the GX, which packs 7.5 usable gallons-equivalent of CNG in its pressurized tank.
A GX can easily make the 385-mile trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco without pump anxiety (although going farther north or heading east toward the Sierra Nevada mountains wouldn't be a very good idea unless youve got a thing for tow trucks).
And in Oklahoma and Utah natural gas is not only abundant, it's incredibly cheap, often less that 75-cents a gallon-equivalent at retail pumps!
If you want to check natural gas availability for yourself, the federal Energy Department's got a nifty alternative fuel finder that'll not only show you where the stations are, it will map a trip for you so you can quickly see whether it can be done in a natural gas vehicle.
A number of people have been asking how we figure our fuel consumption and pricing with an unmetered unit like the Phill.
For the long version I'll refer you to the explanation posted shortly after we started using the home unit early last year.
The short version is that we use educated guesswork, checked by the occasion retail pump fill-up to see how close our estimates (a system worked out with Honda engineers) jibe with the metered tallies at retail pumps certified by the Department of Weights and Measures.
So far, we've been within a few hundredths of a gallon-equivalent, which makes us pretty secure in the fuel economy figures we're posting for the Civic GX.
So yes, it's a great commuter car; no, its not gonna serve many people as their primary vehicle; yes, the Phill is expensive and, right now, impossible to buy new; and no, the GX doesn't make sense everywhere and for everyone.
But it is incredibly convenient if you have a long commute and a handy fuel supply; it is helping Honda gather data that could someday lead to a purpose-built natural gas car; it does free you from the tyranny of escalating gasoline prices, and if (or when) we run short of petroleum, it could keep you rolling right past the long lines and/or rioters at the corner gasoline station.
It also is greener than any other internal combustion vehicle (save the few hydrogen-burning BMW test cars) in the country.
And it makes my commute so much easier !
John O'Dell, Senior Editor
July 01, 2009
Say what you want about the Honda Civic, but there's no denying the vehicle's range. You want a cheap A to B sedan? No problem. An inexpensive, fun, little coupe? Got it. A Hybrid? Sure. One that runs on Natural Gas? Okay. A hot rod? Yup.
Basically there's a Civic for everybody and everything. And so I thought it would be fun to compare the track test numbers of the Civic's two extremes, our long-term Civic GX, which drinks (or is it inhales?) compressed natural gas and the Civic Si, which is known for eating American musclecars.
Both are front-wheel drive and powered by four-cylinders and both cost about $25,000, but the GX is powered by a 113 hp 1.8-liter engine while the Si is packing a 197 hp 2.0-liter. Oh, and the GX uses a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Si of course get six-speed manual.
0-60 mph: 12.6 sec.
1/4 mile: 18.9 sec. @ 72.9 mph
60-0 mph Braking: 135 ft.
700 ft. Slalom: 62.8 mph
200 ft. Skid Pad: .75g
Honda Civic Si
0-60 mph: 7.0 sec.
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout: 6.7 sec.
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 15.3 sec @ 93.0 mph
60 - 0 mph Braking: 123 ft.
700 ft. Slalom: 68.8 mph
200 ft. Skid Pad: .89g
No surprise here of course. The Si performs better. I just thought it would be fun to see the performance range of Honda's beloved Civic. I know which one I'd rather have.
Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief
June 30, 2009
My last experience in our 2007 Honda Civic GX was mostly on the freeway. Aside from the fact that it feels like the whole car is holding its breath as it accelerates, the CNG-fueled, 1.8-liter inline-four provides adequate motivation for commuting -- and with none of the odd sensations you get in a hybrid with blended gasoline-engine and electric power sources.
The GX also rides pretty much like any other (non-Si) Civic, though I think it would be better if we got rid of the low-rolling-resistance P195/65R15 89H tires -- perhaps that will be soon given our long-termer's mileage. Still, freeway travel in a Civic GX feels more secure and relaxing than it does in a second-generation Prius or our long-term Smart Fortwo, either of which is liable to wander all over the road. I can see why people use the GX for high-mileage commuting in greater LA.
But if I owned our natural-gas Honda, I'd mostly use it to run errands within 10-15 miles of my home. Like most fuel misers, it's most pleasant during low-speed stop-and-go driving, even if it this doesn't give it the opportunity to operate at maximum efficiency.
As someone commented on Mark's entry, the lack of a current vendor for the Phill home refueling unit makes a Civic GX purchase far less desirable today than it was two years ago. (Honda's sale of Fuel Maker's assets to Fuel Systems Solutions is now final, and FSS says it will restart Phill production but hasn't yet as far as we know.)
I rent a 1940s-era apartment, though, so I couldn't ever have a Phill anyway. I do have the random luck to live in the Republic of Santa Monica within a half-mile of a natural gas refueling station. So owning a Honda Civic GX could conceivably work for me. But I think I'd rather just get a Fit.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 32,375 miles
April 06, 2009
The Civic GX takes its own sweet time getting things done. It starts at the pump. Compressed natural gas apparently takes a long time to inseminate fuel tanks. I only put about the equivalent of three gallons' worth of gas in the GX, yet the experience at the pump dragged on for what felt like an eternity. On the next go-round, I'll bring a novel to pass the time.
Honda's GX also follows its own clock when it comes to acceleration. There's just 113 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque on tap -- the car takes over 12 seconds to hustle from zero to sixty. This makes sudden maneuvers kinda challenging, as I found out while trying to change lanes on the freeway. Once up to speed, the GX does just fine.
Quickness isn't everything, though, and relative to other greenmobiles, the GX really is fun to drive. Ride quality is pretty impressive -- the car manages to feel solid and connected to the road without too much stiffness or harshness.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 30, 595 miles
November 21, 2008
The Civic GX's odo says it has traveled 25,611 miles, and the last posting about the car on this blog was at 19,683!
Apologies. It is hard to regularly find something new and exciting to write about when you drive the same car day after day. At least it is when the car is a 2007 Honda Civic GX. Barring a natural gas incident (the car, not the driver) , the GX is wonderful but unexciting basic transportation. Period.
This posting is occasioned by three things: The GX's first brake job, a mileage and fuel-cost update and a Honda transmission idiosyncrasy that we've discovered.
We got the brake job -- $183.85 for front pads and rotor resurfacing, after we noticed a slight noise -- not grinding, but not right, either -- when braking hard at freeway speeds.
Turned out the rotors weren't warped, but were glazed and discolored from excessive heat - the result of all the braking we do in our 100-mile-plus round trip commute in rush-hour traffic.
The service advisor at our local Honda dealership told us we were actually doing pretty good: that the range for a first front-end brake job was 5,000 to 25,000 miles, with an awful lot of people coming it at under 15k. The composition of the Civic's brake pads, he said, can make 'em wear out pretty fast.
On the fuel economy front, we're still averaging around 33 miles per gallon-equivalent, not bad for a car that's EPA-rated at 28 mpg and is usually driven in the worst of all conditions for decent fuel economy - Southern California freeways during morning and evening rush hours.
It should be even higher.
One thing I should have written about a while ago but have been too embarrassed to tackle is my inability to drive the car in the proper gear.
I'm constantly finding myself roaring down the freeway in 3rd instead of in the far more fuel-efficient "drive," which gives you 4th and 5th gears to play with.
Actually, I'm told (by guys at Honda, no less) this can be a problem with many Hondas with automatic transmissions .
The console-mounted shifter is all the way forward in "Park" and as you pull it back through "Reverse" and "Neutral" you'd think the logical stopping point would be in "D."
But Honda's engineers, for reasons known only to them, designed the shifter mechanism so that it easily pulls right through the "drive" position and locks into "D3," which locks out 4th and 5th gears.
If you shift by feel, which I do all too often, you can easily end up winding it out in 3rd, which I do and which gulps fuel .
Fortunately, with a Phil natural gas pump in the garage, our fuel costs are well below market rates - even with gasoline and natural gas prices at the retail pumps down around the $2 per gallon mark now.
We've been averaging about $2.10 a gallon all along, even when retail pump prices were nearly $3.25 for natural gas and over $4 for gasoline.
John O'Dell, Senior Editor, Green Car Advisor @ 25,611 miles
July 20, 2008
The 2007 Honda Civic GX, fell into my hands for two wonderful weeks and I had a chance to really experiment with stretching every last whiff of natural gas (as opposed to every last drop of gasoline). I filled it five times and got an average of 35 mpg over about 700 miles. With the price of natural gas at $3.15 a gallon, this seemed like a real bargain. For the record, the best tank I got was 41.2 mpg and the worst was 31.4 mpg.
My two weeks in the GX didn't evoke any new impressions. There were moments when the power was definitely missing such as when I climb an onramp to the freeway and needed to go from about 45 mph to 70 mph with all manner of vehicles hurtling up my tailpipe. But that one moment is largely erased by low cost fuel, life time car pool stickers and the Honda refinement present in the GX.
One thing that irritates me is how people just don't get this car. Is it a once-a-year family vacation vehicle? No. Is it a once-a-month canyon carver? Absolutely not. Is it a break-the-bank exotic? Forget it. It's an everyday commuter vehicle plain and simple. And it does that beautifully.
Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 19,683 miles
February 04, 2008
A landmark, of sorts.
The odo passed 10K on the way home Friday (it is difficult to get a decent picture of a lighted digital odometer while stopped, in the dark, in the carpool lane but as the traffic was cooperating, I tried!).
I've put most of those miles on our 2007 Honda Civic GX, a point driven home Friday morning when managing editor Donna DeRosa asked me whether I got bored driving the GX all the time.
What can I say?
It is a bit boring, but hey, it's a basic Civic, a slightly underpowered basic Civic, and most of my driving is on Southern California freeways during Southern California rush hours. Driving a Ferrari is boring when stop-go-stop-go-slow down-stop-go-stop-stop-go-slow-go is the pattern and top speed rarely rises above 40 miles an hour.
Still, it is a Civic, so it starts whenever you ask it; goes where you point it, is comfortable, has a radio (audio system is too proud a term to describe the two-speaker AM/FM/CD setup), turns corners without tipping over and stops promptly when required.
Add to that a single-occupant carpool lane permit and better-than-average CO2 emissions because of the lower carbon content of its compressed natural gas fuel, and the Civic GX becomes a blissful commuter car.
Every once in a while there's even is a soupçon of excitement: wondering how much farther you can drive once the fuel gauge hits empty (haven't run out yet); getting the recall notice that says the CNG tank could take off like a rocket if we lit a big fire in the back seat (we still haven't taken it in for the fix – a new seal of some sort); visiting Honda dealership at 7,000 miles for the first scheduled oil change (the first time its been to a dealership since we picked it up at the end of June; and getting the Phill.
Actually, we don't actually have the Phill the natural gas compressor and pump unit that will let us fill the GX overnight in our garage. But we got word Friday that FuelMaker Corp., the Canadian company that, well, makes it, finally has shipped our Phill to the installer.
It's supposed to arrive around the end of this week, and we're hoping we can get it installed, inspected and approved by the 15th.
In preparation, we updated the fuel log this morning and can report that at 10,083 miles, we're averaging 28.43 miles a gallon. That's unchanged from the then lifetime average of 28.4 mpg posted at 5,234 miles back in November.
John O'Dell, Senior Editor, Edmunds Green Car Advisor @ 10,083 miles
September 25, 2007
I had the long-term Civic GX for the past week, or at least its keys. I got to see how it performed in a variety of driving conditions, taking it on different errands -- daily commute, trip to Universal City for a press event, taking me to an excellent Editors concert at the Wiltern, and an airport venture that included four days parked while I was in Toronto. Here are some of the things I learned over this period of time.