I arranged to drive the Honda Civic GX in an extended test after the holidays, but I wanted to offer a capsule review following a short 5-minute drive during the LA Auto Show. I'm a fan of natural gas as a fuel and have been interested in the practical week-to-week possibilities of a CNG-powered car since Honda started promoting Phill, the home-based refueling station.

Cost and convenience aside, my first impression of the GX is the lack of snap in the throttle. There is a reduction of power when using natural gas in the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine. The GX is rated at 113 horsepower while a gas-powered model pumps out 140 horsepower. The GX is also heavier, so the car seems lazy or sluggish at times.

But the real values in the GX are fuel costs and peace of mind knowing you're driving perhaps the cleanest production internal combustion engine available. I'll need more seat time in the GX and then some time with a calculator, but in a future report you can expect a full breakdown of the numbers and driving impressions.

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