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Recent Drive: Natural Gas-powered 2008 Civic GX

We recently spent a week in a 2008 Honda Civic GX, the only natural gas vehicle (NGV) available to consumers today, and it didn't take long to appreciate the range and availability of regular ol' gasoline. The Civic GX is rated for combined fuel economy of 28 miles per GGE (Gasoline Gallon Equivalent, an NGV standard), but the tank holds just eight GGE. Leaving room for error, then, you have to refill the GX about every 180 to 200 miles. That wouldn't be as big a problem if compressed natural gas (CNG) were available on every other street corner. The thrust of it, we learned in a typical week of cruising, commuting and grocery shopping, is that you have to plan ahead. The 113-horsepower GX is also slower than traditional Civics, and the extra-large fuel tank eats up all but six cubic feet of trunk space. Still, you can count us in as fans. Our nearby CNG stations are on the pricey side, but we still saved about 30 percent on fuel versus a regular Civic. Factor in solo access to the HOV lane, tax incentives and cleaner emissions, and it's clear why the 2008 Civic GX sold out in the first few months of the year.
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