Those who attended the recent Los Angeles Auto Show had the opportunity to see not only the five cars under review by the Green Car Journal for their coveted Green Car of the Year Award, but also to witness the unveiling of the winner. And although the competition was stiff with a variety of seemingly incomparable competitors, the judges spoke and one was chosen to receive the honor of being named the 2012 champion. The Honda Civic Natural Gas came out ahead, and there are several reasons why eco-car enthusiasts will want to take note.
For starters, you’ll probably be interested to learn about the cars the Civic beat out in order to be dubbed the greenest car of 2012, and you may be rather stumped as to how it won. The Ford Focus Electric, for example, seems like a shoe-in for first place with its many eco-friendly features. Aside from zero emissions, it also comes with parts made from soy foam and wood fibers, as well as the option to buy a charging unit made from 60% recycled materials. In short, it’s greener than most. But it certainly wasn’t the only contender.
The Mitsubishi i-Miev offered another option for fully electric, with a super compact body that appeals to many modern drivers in urban areas (where it’s often hard to find parking). Of course, the low price tag certainly doesn’t hurt (at under $30,000 it’s one of the most affordable electric vehicles on the market). The Toyota Prius v is also attractive thanks to a hybrid engine that greatly increases driving range (over electric) and a newly expanded body style that provides more room for the green family on the go. And the Volkswagen Passat TDI offers all the power of a petroleum-fueled vehicle with lower emissions and over 40 mpg (thanks to cleaner-burning diesel).
But it seems that the judges were blown away by Honda’s latest entry, and those on the panel are no dummies. While you’ve probably heard of famous names like Carroll Shelby (best known for the Mustang that bears his name) and Jay Leno (who is known not only for cracking jokes on The Tonight Show but also for being a car enthusiast), the panel was also people by eco-experts like Carl Pope (Sierra Club chairman), Frances Bienecke (Natural Resources Defense Council president), and Jean-Michel Cousteau (Ocean Futures Society president). And together they decided that Honda went above and beyond with their natural gas hybrid.
The car itself looks no different than other cars in the Honda line. But it offers nearly 40 mpg, which is nothing to sniff at, and a range that more than doubles what most current electric vehicles can provide. In addition, the price of fuel is generally about a third less than petroleum and both the car and the fuel are uniquely American (the car is American-made and natural gas is a resource found in abundance in the United States). The price combined with support for domestic enterprise and environmental considerations has made the 2012 Honda model a best buy, according to judges for the Green Car Journal. And while they didn’t compare car insurance quotes or the cost of maintenance when selecting their winner, consumers can feel good about purchasing a car that is cost-effective, fuel-efficient, and bears the title of Green Car of the Year.