Customers who buy a brand-new 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas will receive a nice bonus with their purchase: a $3000 debit card for use at any Clean Energy natural-gas filling station around the country. That should help offset the high purchase price of the car, which is the most expensive version of the 2012 Honda Civic.
The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas is a relatively little-known model that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) rather than gasoline. The benefits for consumers are twofold: the fuel reportedly costs the equivalent of $2.05 per gallon, less than a third the price of gasoline, and the Civic Natural Gas is eligible to drive in California's carpool lanes even if it only has one occupant.
There are a few downsides to the car: its 1.8-liter inline-four engine only offers 110 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque, down from 140 hp and 128 lb-ft in gasoline versions of the 2012 Honda Civic. The large CNG tank also takes up much of the trunk space, cutting cargo room from 12.5 to just 5.0 cubic feet. Moreover, in many states the availability of CNG at gas stations is spotty to nonexistent.
The car's biggest demerit is price. With stickers starting at $27,065 after destination, the Natural Gas is the most expensive version of the 2012 Honda Civic -- it's pricier than both the Civic Hybrid and the sporty Civic Si. Honda hopes that offering $3000 worth of free fuel should help offset the higher purchase price and encourage more drivers to try out a CNG-powered car.
The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas is available at only 199 of Honda's dealers in 36 states. Buyers who want the $3000 Clean Energy CNG filling station debit card must purchase a car between now and January 2, 2013.