• Runs on gasoline or cheaper, cleaner natural gas
  • Switches between two fuels seamlessly
  • Offers less trunk space due to CNG tank

Chevrolet already makes Silverado pickups and Express vans that run on compressed natural gas (CNG), but a sedan will soon join the list of CNG-powered Chevys, too. The 2015 Chevrolet Impala will be available in a dual-fuel version that can run on both gasoline and cleaner burning -- and generally less expensive -- natural gas.

Although the CNG-powered Impala's official fuel economy figures have not yet been announced, Chevy says drivers can expect 150 miles of range from a trunk-mounted tank that holds the equivalent of eight gallons. Total range for the dual-fuel Impala is expected to be about 500 miles.

The CNG tank does compromise the Impala's cargo space. The dual-fuel model offers about half the trunk space of the conventionally powered model, with 10 cu ft of volume compared to 18.8 cu ft for the conventional Impala.

The dual-fuel version uses the same 3.6-liter V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission as the gasoline-only Impala. When running on CNG, though, it produces 85 percent of the power that it does running on gasoline. Still, GM engineers took special steps such as using hardened valves in the V6 to ensure that the motor will prove durable with CNG use.

Like the automaker's other CNG models, the 2015 Chevrolet Impala with CNG will be fully warranted. That's a big advantage for car owners considering an aftermarket kit to convert a vehicle to run on the clean-burning fuel. Adding such a kit could even void a manufacturer's new-car warranty. For the dual-fuel Impala, the powertrain warranty includes the CNG equipment as well as all the typically covered components under a 5-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain and vehicle emissions warranty.

Chevrolet will offer the gasoline/CNG Impala to both retail and fleet customers beginning next summer. The automaker says customers can choose the CNG kit in the same way that they'd specify any other option. Pricing has not yet been announced, but Chevy's estimate of a break-even point compared to the conventional Impala suggests that the CNG option may be economically wise for drivers who log plenty of miles. At 24,000 miles per year, Chevy says drivers "can recoup the additional investment in the bi-fuel option within a few years at current prices."

What it means to you: If you live in an area where CNG is readily available, a dual-fuel vehicle such as the 2015 Chevrolet Impala may be a good choice. If you want a factory-prepared CNG vehicle and can't wait until next summer, consider a dual-fuel version of the Chevy Silverado pickup.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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