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2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport TouringIntroduced as a completely redesigned model in 2016, the Honda Civic has been available in both sedan and coupe choices to fit varying needs. Civic fans have an additional choice in the 2017 model year, the Civic Hatchback. Honda has long sold hatchbacks in other markets where they are quite popular, but not so much with American consumers in recent times. That said, it was time for a return to the U.S. after a multi-year hiatus. The 2017 hatchback comes at a reasonable $19,700, about a grand more than the Civic sedan.

Civics are powered by a 1.5-liter, direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a 2.0-liter VTEC engine. The Sport and Sport Touring get a 180 horsepower version of the 1.5-liter engine while the others get 174 horsepower. The more powerful variants use a dual-outlet, center-mounted exhaust and are designed to benefit from premium unleaded fuel. The engine can be mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) on all trim levels. A quick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission can also be ordered on the LX and both Sport models. The thriftiest version, the LX with the CVT, is rated at 31 city and 40 highway mpg.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport TouringThe styling of the new Civic Hatchback leans more toward that of a four-door sedan than the previous hatchback model. It has a more rigid and lightweight body with a sophisticated chassis design, featuring a fully independent suspension system, liquid-filled bushings, sport-tuned electronic power steering, and powerful four-channel anti-lock disc brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Hill Start Assist.

Importantly, the Civic is very well-connected for such an affordably-priced car that starts at under $19,000. Available optionally on LX, EX and EX-L Navi and standard on Sport Touring is the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies. This includes Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and Auto High-Beam Headlights.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport TouringOther available features include Honda Display Audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (standard on EX and above trims), heated seats, power driver and front-passenger seats, remote engine start, and more. The all-new Sport Touring features textured aluminum sport pedals, red-accented instrument illumination and a 540-watt 12-speaker premium audio system, the most powerful ever offered in a Civic.

The Honda Civic has long been a popular choice for those who want a feature-laden small sedan at a truly affordable price point. With the latest generation’s cutting edge style and available on-board electronics – plus the addition of a hatchback to the Civic sedan and coupe offerings – there’s even more reason for buyers to consider this fuel-efficient and popular model.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

green-car-awards-announcementFinalists for Green Car Journal’s 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year™, 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year™, and 2017 Green SUV of the Year™ awards were announced at the LA Auto Show’s AutoMobility LA™ event in Los Angeles. Each of the finalists for 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year™ offers advanced connectivity and driver assistance systems combined with admirable levels of environmental performance. The finalists are the Audi A3 e-tron, Honda Civic, Mercedes-Benz C350e, Tesla Model X, and Toyota Prius Prime. Four are plug-in vehicles while one is powered by efficient gasoline internal combustion.

In contention for 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ are the 2017 Acura NSX, BMW 740e xDrive iPerformance, Jaguar XE 20d, Mercedes-Benz S550e, and Range Rover Td6. This diverse group of premium ‘green’ finalists includes plug-in, hybrid, and advanced diesel vehicles. Also a diverse group, 2017 Green SUV of the Year™ finalists are efficient SUV and crossover models that achieve their efficiencies with plug-in, hybrid, and internal combustion power. Nominees include the BMW X5 xDrive40e iPerformance, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-9, Mercedes-Benz GLE550e, and Nissan Rogue Hybrid.

2017-washington-auto-show-logo-cropped-1Presented annually at The Washington Auto Show, the Green Car Awards™ honor the best-of-the-best in the important premium, connected, and SUV/crossover categories. Of particular importance is that these finalists achieve their environmental leadership in their own way. Hybrid power continues to be an important strategy in achieving greater environmental compatibility, along with plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and advanced gasoline and diesel propulsion.

The coordination of Green Car Awards™ announcements and joint exhibition of finalists is a significant new development between major auto shows on the auto show circuit. This milestone underscores the growing importance of “green” cars in the auto industry and how they are in turn creating synergies in complementary areas as well. Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year® has been a high-profile program at Los Angeles Auto Show’s press and trade days (now AutoMobility LA™) since 2005. Beginning in 2008, the Green Car Awards™ have been a key feature of The Washington Auto Show®, the “public policy show” on the auto show circuit that puts a priority on safety and sustainability. Award winners will be identified during a press conference on January 26 at The Washington Auto Show in Washington DC.

green-car-awards-finalists-announcement-at-laas-1

2016-green-car-of-the-year-finalistsFive exceptional ‘green’ cars have just been identified by Green Car Journal as its finalists for the coveted 2016 Green Car of the Year® award. These 2016 models include the Audi A3 e-tron, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Civic, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Prius.

The magazine points out that this is the strongest field of finalists the annual Green Car of the Year® program has considered, with each nominee making a strong environmental statement in distinctly different ways. All share a common strategy of recognizing what’s most important to today’s drivers through the use of diverse powertrain technologies and their own brand of ‘green’ features. The bottom line: All approaches are essential to achieving today’s important environmental goals, including greater fuel efficiency, lower tailpipe emissions, reduced carbon emissions, and overall environmental improvement while providing satisfying performance and retaining the joy of driving.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tronFINALIST: AUDI A3 E-TRON

The A3 Sportback e-tron is Audi's entry in the hot plug-in hybrid vehicle market. This five-door hatchback uses lithium-ion batteries and a 102 hp electric motor to deliver up to 19 miles of all-electric driving, after which its 150 hp, 1.4-liter gasoline TFSI engine provides power for extended driving in efficient hybrid mode.

2016-chevrolet-voltFINALIST: CHEVROLET VOLT

Chevrolet’s second generation Volt features sportier styling, better performance, and a lighter and more powerful two-motor drive system. The five-passenger, extended range electric now drives up to 53 miles on batteries alone, with its 1.5-liter gasoline powered generator creating on-board electricity to deliver an overall 420 mile range.

2016 Honda Civic Sedan TouringFINALIST: HONDA CIVIC

Now in its tenth generation, the all-new Honda Civic delivers exemplary fuel efficiency in an affordable, conventionally-powered model. The Civic thoughtfully blends hybrid-like fuel economy and appealing style, with an array of desired amenities and advanced electronics that meets the needs of a great many drivers.

MY16 Sonata HybridFINALIST: HYUNDAI SONATA

Hyundai’s stylish 2016 Sonata offers it all with efficient gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid choices within the Sonata lineup. New this year, the hybrid delivers up to 43 highway mpg and features distinctive styling cues. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid drives up to 24 miles on batteries with additional range on conventional hybrid power.

2016-toyota-priusFINALIST: TOYOTA PRIUS

The Toyota Prius emerges in 2016 a completely redesigned model, faithfully delivering the attributes expected of an industry-leading hybrid with important design, technology, and efficiency updates. It features a familiar yet bolder exterior and incorporates suspension and other improvements to deliver improved driving dynamics.

GREEN CAR AWARD PROGRAM

Since 1992, Green Car Journal has been recognized as the leading authority on the intersection of automobiles, energy, and environment. The GCOY award is an important part of Green Car Journal’s mission to showcase environmental progress in the automotive field.

The auto industry’s expanding efforts in offering new vehicles with higher efficiency and improved environmental impact mean there is an increasing number of vehicle models to be considered for the Green Car of the Year® program. This is a significant departure from when just a limited number of new car models were considered for the inaugural Green Car of the Year® program, which Green Car Journal first presented at the LA Auto Show in 2005.

During the award’s vetting process, Green Car Journal editors consider all vehicles, fuels, and technologies as an expansive field of potential candidates is narrowed down to a final five. Finalists are selected for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance. Many factors are considered including efficiency, EPA and CARB emissions certification, performance characteristics, ‘newness,’ and affordability. Availability to the mass market is important to ensure honored models have the potential to make a real difference in environmental impact.

The Green Car of the Year® is selected through a majority vote by a jury that includes leaders of noted environmental and efficiency organizations including Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, board member of Global Green USA; Dr. Alan Lloyd, President Emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation; Mindy Lubber, President of CERES; and Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. Green Car Journal editors and celebrity auto enthusiast Jay Leno round out the award jury.

Green Car Journal will announced the winner of the 2016 Green Car of the Year award during press days at the L.A. Auto Show on November 19.

 

We are all enamored by the advanced technologies at work in vehicles today. And why wouldn’t we be? The incredibly efficient cars we have today, and the even more efficient models coming in the years ahead, are testament to a process that combines ingenuity, market competitiveness, and government mandate in bringing ever more efficient vehicles to our highways.

It’s been a long and evolutionary process. I remember clearly when PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) technology was first introduced in the early 1990s, a breakthrough that brought near-zero tailpipe emissions from gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles. That move was led by Honda and Nissan, with others quickly following. Then there were the first hybrids – Honda’s Insight and Toyota’s Prius – that arrived on our shores at the end of that decade. Both technologies brought incredible operating efficiencies that drastically reduced a vehicle’s emissions, increased fuel economy to unexpected levels, or both.

Of course, there were first-generation battery electric vehicles in the mid-1990s that foretold what would become possible years later. That first foray into EV marketing was deemed by many a failure, yet it set the stage for the advanced and truly impressive EVs we have today. Those vehicles may not yet be cost-competitive with conventionally powered vehicles due to very high battery costs, but that doesn’t diminish the genius engineering that’s brought them to today’s highways.

Even conventionally-powered cars today are achieving fuel efficiency levels approaching that of more technologically complex hybrids. Who would have imagined popular cars getting 40 mpg or better, like the Dodge Dart, Chevy Cruze, Mazda3, Ford Fiesta, and many more in a field that’s growing ever larger each year?

VW and Audi have proven that clean diesel technology can also achieve 40+ mpg fuel efficiency while providing press-you-back-in-your-seat performance, and importantly, doing this while meeting 50 state emissions criteria. That’s saying something considering diesel has historically had a tough go of it meeting increasingly stringent emissions standards in California and elsewhere. Yet, with elegant engineering by these automakers and their diesel technology supplier Bosch – plus this country’s move to low-sulfur diesel fuel late last decade – ‘clean’ diesel was born.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention natural gas vehicles. There was a time when quite a few automakers were exploring natural gas power in the U.S., but that faded and left Honda as the lone player in this market with its Civic Natural Gas sedan. Now others are joining in with dual-fuel natural gas pickups and vans, benefitting from advanced engine technologies, better natural gas tanks, and a sense that with increasing natural gas reserves in the U.S., demand for natural gas vehicles will grow. As Honda has shown with its Civic, it’s possible to operate on this alternative fuel while also netting admirable fuel efficiency.

All this advanced powertrain technology is important. It makes air quality and petroleum reduction goals achievable, even ones like the ethereal 54.5 mpg fleet fuel economy average requirement that looms for automakers by 2025. There’s no doubt that advanced technologies come at a cost and reaching a 54.5 mpg average will require the full range of efficiency technologies available, from better powerplants and transmissions to greater use of lightweight materials, aerodynamic design, and answers not yet apparent. But I’m betting we’ll get there in the most efficient way possible.

 

Ron Cogan is editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of CarsOfChange.com

We’ve been intrigued by Honda’s Civic natural gas program since this vehicle began serial production at the automaker’s Ohio assembly plant in 1998.

It is a pretty amazing car, built alongside its conventionally powered cousins on the same line, but with the unique components that enable it to operate on clean compressed natural gas (CNG) – a high-compression engine with hardened valves and other natural gas- specific hardware, special lines and fittings, a pressure vessel instead of a gas tank, and so on. It may be equipped with different components, but in the end the natural gas variant drives like the gasoline Civics that leave the plant.

This is a good thing since ‘transparency’ is important. While most drivers may want environmentally-conscious vehicles, they tend to also want ones that are familiar in most ways. The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas  – Green Car Journal’s 2012 Green Car of the Year –has been showing us how well Honda has accomplished this job since it began operating as part of our long-term test fleet in 2012.

The natural gas variant’s 1.8-liter engine delivers 110 horsepower – 30 less horsepower than the gasoline version – although the difference isn’t really noticeable during the daily drive. The thousands of miles we’ve now spent behind the wheel bear this out.

The CNG version Civic is not only mainstream-stylish and comfortable, it’s also fuel efficient. We averaged better than 36 highway mpg on a recent tank with another tank in city driving averaging 26 mpg. This was done in ECON mode, with Honda’s ECO Assist system engaged to modify engine operation and other power-using systems to increase driving efficiency. Our combined mpg readings have been averaging 30.8 mpg combined fuel economy, right where it should be considering EPA’s 31 mpg combined estimate.

We've found that engaging the ECON function helps mpg but does diminish throttle response, so entering interstates may be best done with ECON off. With ECON on or off, though, the Civic Natural Gas provides the kind of solid driving experience we can appreciate.

Honda mounts the Civic’s 3600 psi tank between the rear wheels, a position that also places it partially in the rear of the trunk behind a finished panel, resulting in a substantially smaller trunk volume than conventional Civics. The tank holds the equivalent of about eight gallons of gasoline, depending on ambient temperatures during refueling since temperature can influence fill volume. Our range at fill-ups typically shows about 220 to 240 miles on the car’s distance-to-empty gauge.

The Civic Natural Gas test car we’re driving offers an array of welcome features including Honda’s navigation system, which bumps the price up $1,500 from this model’s base MSRP of $26,155 to $27,655.