Honda Civic Wins Green Car of 2012

Whereas a few short years ago it was odd to see a hybrid, electric, or alternative fuel vehicle on the road, and the only people driving eco-friendly cars were “tree-huggers” and “granola crunchers”, it is now considered both trendy and responsible to do your part for the environment by purchasing a vehicle that reduces your carbon footprint. Of course, many drivers have also discovered how much money they can save by selecting a car that runs on less (or no) petroleum. And with so many consumers clamoring for these types of cars, the competition has definitely increased. In fact, there are now so many options on the market for greener vehicles that the Green Car Journal holds an annual competition to name the “Green Car of the Year”. And for 2012, the Honda Civic Natural Gas gets the crown.

With the goal of presenting “environmental progress in the auto industry”, the Green Car Journal this year selected five vehicles to compete for the coveted Green Car of the Year Award. And the competition was stiff. The Civic was up against the Ford Focus Electric, the Mitsubishi i-Miev, the Toyota Prius v, and the Volkswagen Passat TDI. Each car came with a wealth of eco-friendly features and the judges (including noted designer Carroll Shelby, car enthusiast Jay Leno, Sierra Club chairman Carl Pope, and Natural Resource Defense Council president Frances Bienecke, amongst others) no doubt had a tough time deciding on a winner due to the variety of options presented.

The Ford Focus, for example, is a fully electric vehicle that comes with some excellent street cred after a few jaunts around the block, as well as eco-upgrades like the inclusion of soy foam and wood fiber parts and a charging unit that boasts 60% recycled materials. The Mitsubishi i-Miev is also a 100% emission-free electric model and it is not only uber-compact; it also comes with a very affordable price tag (under $30,000). While the Toyota Prius has long been a good option for environmentally-conscious drivers that need the range of a hybrid, the v offers a roomier cabin for families (with a wagon-style body) along with excellent fuel efficiency. And the turbocharged diesel that makes up the TDI portion of the new Volkswagen Passat means that drivers will get all the power they want at 40+ mpg (not to mention cleaner burning fuel).

So what make the Honda Civic the winner? There are a couple of bonuses to be found in this fantastic green vehicle. Although some may balk at the inclusion of natural gas, thinking it’s not as green as other alternatives, the truth is that it may have beat out the competition with the added value it offers American drivers. Not only does it come with nearly 40 mpg thanks to the electrical components that made the Civic hybrid a breakout hit nearly a decade ago; it is also an American-made vehicle that runs on natural gas resources found in abundance in – you guessed it – America. It has more than double the range of fully electric competitors (with a full tank of compressed natural gas), but each visit to the pump will save drivers approximately 30% over petroleum fuel products, making it a good buy in a recession economy.

Of course, the judges didn’t necessarily consider maintenance costs or compare car insurance quotes to see how each of these vehicles would stack up for a real-world driver. But in terms of the value offered to both the environment and the consumer market, it seems that the panel of experts has spoken. And the Honda Civic Natural Gas appears to be the best choice for eco-friendly drivers looking to upgrade in 2012.