There haven’t been too many surprises at the LA Auto Show this year, but Green Car Journal served up a shocker first thing this morning by naming the Honda Civic Natural Gas its 2012 Green Car of the Year. The Civic is the cleanest running internal combustion car certified by the EPS, and it runs natural gas that is mostly produced domestically.

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Honda has been making a splash at the LA Auto Show this year, with yesterday’s unveil of the all-electric 2013 Fit EV, and now this win. The finalists for the 2012 Green Car of the Year award ran the gamut of alternative energy vehicles. The finalists included two electric vehicles (Mitsubishi i and Ford Focus Electric), a hybrid (Prius V), a clean diesel car (Volkswagen Passat TDI), and the eventual winner, Honda’s Civic Natural Gas. The Civic can drive approximately 240 miles per tank of compressed natural gas, which is much more range than the current crop of electric vehicles offer.

After the announcement, Digital Editor Andrew Stoy described the win as a coup for Honda and natural gas vehicles. He says the benefit of the natural gas engine is that it burns clean and doesn’t require automakers to reinvent the internal combustion engine. Additionally, natural gas is about 30 percent cheaper than gasoline, and it is readily available. Despite its many benefits, there is a downside to increasing our use of natural gas, because the gas is extracted from shale using an environmentally-destructive process known as hydro-fracking.

+ Civic Natural Gas