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In a world surrounded by unnecessary desires, we often find ourselves spending money on useless substances that bring no bearing to one’s life. As social media grows larger at becoming an outlet for promoting products and online shopping, it also lures people in to spending money on things we didn’t know we needed. Not too long ago,  drowning in production deadlines and unproductive meetings I found myself on Instagram drawn into viewing Instagram stories as one does in the middle of a work day and it was there I came across a friend who was promoting a certain street wear clothing brand and the product in question was a key chain. After discovering these key chains cost $75.00 each, I darn near choked on my words and followed with a statement “for $75, I can fly to Los Angeles, California, Uber to Chinatown and buy a key chain for $75”. My friend’s responds “please do.

My stubbornness had gotten the better of me. Naturally, I accepted this challenge to prove a point. However, there was already a problem. Last minute flights to Los Angeles, CA from Phoenix, AZ run about $250, on a good day. If I wanted one of the Southwest $59 airfare flights, I would have to book a month in advance in the middle of a work week and I’m pretty sure upper management wouldn’t have taken my day off so keenly. So instead, I retracted my statement and said “I’m going to drive…” And therein lays our challenge.

With the 2019 Honda Civic Touring being the test subject for the week, this challenge couldn’t have arrived at a better time. At an EPA rated 37 MPG on the highway, I felt confident facing this challenge ahead. So I set my own rules. This challenge was to be encompassed in a single day; my budget is $75 for this trip and will include everything from the key chain, food, and gas. Can I drive 800 miles in 14 hours without going over $75?


The real challenge here lies within the MPG’s. The Honda Civic has roughly a 12.5 gallon fuel tank, so in order to make this challenge work; I would need to average a minimum of 40 miles to the gallon. The other challenge lies within where exactly I fuel up. Arizona has cheaper gas whereas California is much more expensive. With only 300 miles of range, I would have to make an assessment if I wanted to fuel up at half a tank in Quartzsite, Arizona, which is on the border of California or press on deeper. That decision will have to come later.

It was not a good start to the challenge. After a 10:00am departure, I immediately hit bumper to bumper traffic due to the freeway being shut down for construction. It was then I turned to the car with its now standard Honda Sensing system to be my co-pilot under these cruel conditions. As part of the 2019 update on the Honda Civic, Honda Sensing with Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert with Autonomous Braking, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, and Automatic High Beams makes it way in as a standard feature through all Civic models including the Coupe.  This technology encompasses slow traffic following and fully capable start and stop functionality, making driving in traffic, stress free.

Since our featured tester was the top trimmed Touring in comes with a 174-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Sadly for the sedan, the Touring is only equipped with the CVT automatic whereas with the five-door hatchback, a six-speed manual plays a more available role. The CVT isn’t a negative here however as power displacement is quite linear in its findings. Acceleration is adequate for its purpose and with a sport mode and steering wheel paddle shifters, some fun can be had from behind the wheel.

Finally cleared of any hiccups, it was a long two hour drive before getting to the state line – it was here I had to make a judgment call. With over 220 miles of range and averaging 40.7-MPG’s, it was wise to continue on froward crossing into the California desert.

Up till this point the Civic has been quite the road companion, the suspension is subtle and provides a comfortable balance of road feedback without any harshness. The road that leads into Palm Springs starts to get a bit twisty and the steering connection felt on point with responsiveness. As much as I wanted to slide that gear lever into sport, I held back my desire for the greater good of the mission.

As I drove through Palm Springs, California, a weariness came over me – I knew if I continued into Los Angeles, I would have a better chance at completing my challenge; however, that left me with a greater risk of running out of fuel in a place I am unfamiliar with. Just west of Palm Springs, I decided to go ahead and stop, refuel, take a quick break and empty my own tank.

TANK #1: $30.37

With a fresh new tank, and less than 100 miles away from Chinatown I am now left with just over $40 in my wallet. Considering this tank cost $30, the next one will be roughly the same meaning I can spend more than $14 on trinkets and food once I get to my destination. Unfortunately, I did. Getting into L.A. is a nightmare, practically – traffic is everywhere. Once off the freeway, I thought I was in the clear, but Chinatown proved different. It took 20-minutes just to go two blocks. I made a decision to turn off the main road, good thing too – I manage to find street parking right across from a restaurant and gift shop. First thing was first, I found a chain worthy of my $2.00 and upon a request from my mom; I picked her something up too. The restaurant, Golden Dragon, was highly recommended from the gift shop owner who was stunned to hear what I was up to for the day. She exclaimed “they have the best dumplings in town.” I’d question her judgment on dumpling quality, but then again, maybe I’m too accustom to Panda Express.

KEY CHAIN: $8.76
LUNCH: $16.55

With $19.32 remaining, I knew I was in deep ‘uh oh.’ That wasn’t going to be enough to refuel a full tank… but I don’t need a complete full tank, right? I just need to make it back to Phoenix without spending $75. So I departed Chinatown to make my way back to Phoenix, I sat in more traffic, saw more car accidents and while I wished I had honked my horn to keep from dying of boredom, it was toward another driver that somehow thought lane sharing was a thing.

As the day went on, the sun started to set and the LED automatic headlights switched on, I knew I was still in for a long drive ahead. Another 5-hours of asphalt awaited. The Civic on the other hand was proving itself to be quite comfortable. The interior is attractive with a simplistic design scheme that doesn’t get tiring to look at while in traffic. The Apple CarPlay/Android Auto system kept me alert and awake. And now that there are actual buttons to play with, changing the volume is as easy as turning an actual knob now.


Watching the tank dwindle down, I entered back into Quartzite with less than a quarter tank of gas. I knew all I needed was just enough fuel to get me home. It was only about 120 miles back to Phoenix. So anxiously, I filled up to ten dollars’ worth of gas that left me with just over half a tank. But the night was not over, who knew what was in store for the next 120 miles. Luckily, nothing was. But when I pulled into the drive way, I looked down – I had just over 60 miles of range left, averaged 39 miles to the gallon and when I looked in my walled, I had $9.32 remaining.

TANK #2: $10.00

The true winner here is the 2019 Honda Civic; it persevered through 800 miles, 14-hours of nearly non-stop driving. It managed a grand total of 39-mpg’s, that is two more than EPA rating; it provided little to no road fatigue and never skipped a beat with its new Honda Sensing system. Now that I’ve spent all of my lunch money for the week on a cheesy key chain, I can rest peacefully knowing that the $75 I chose to spend that day wasn’t towards something that will be thrown away in a few months, but rather towards an adventure that made a memory. And that is something I cannot put a price on.


Starting Price: $19,550
As Tested: $28,220


Horsepower/Torque: 174-HORSEPOWER / 162 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: CVT AUTOMATIC
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 30-CITY / 38-HWY / 33-COMBINED
Fuel Range: 300 MILES



  1. This was an awesome undertaking, and just goes to show you that sometimes the thrill is in the adventure. I’m still impressed at the success of this mission, and the fact that your travel expenses even included lunch. The Civic Touring is a nice highway companion for the 800 mile jaunt.

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