There is a tremendous amount of interest in hybrids cars and SUVs. But are they the best answer for our increasing environmental concerns? Sure, they save on gas but will they make you children’s life better? Let’s have a look.
2010 Toyota Prius
(51 city/48 highway)-This hybrid has more street cred with environmentalists than Al Gore and polar bears stuck on melting ice caps. This is the “green” car that started it all and it is still one of the best.
As the Prius was the first truly successful hybrid, this car has become a lightning rod for the entire “green” debate. Many Prius owners have gone so far as to say that drivers of other cars are “irresponsible” and “wasteful.” While that may be true, buying a Prius really isn’t going to save the Earth. What it will do is save you lots and lots of gas.
The latest 2010 version was treated to an interior restyle that is now both futuristically bold and aesthetically pleasing. It may be one of Toyota’s all time great interiors. But no matter what your opinion is about the Captain Kirk interior, the Prius truly is the hybrid gold standard. It is economical, reliable and roomy enough for most people’s needs. What more could you want?
2010 Honda Civic Hybrid
40 city/43 highway-The Civic Hybrid has the benefit of looking just like any other Civic so no one will think you are imposing your hardcore environmental beliefs on them. In fact, the Civic Hybrid retains the typical fun to drive Honda traits and is very affordable. It is available with navigation and leather seats and thusly equipped it is less expensive than a Prius with the same options.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
(41 city/36 highway)-Surprising everyone including Toyota, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid really took the automotive world by storm. Here was an American car that not only handled and steered more fluidly than the Camry Hybrid but also got much better gas mileage! You might also say the Fusion Hybrid has a soul but everything does next to a Camry Hybrid.
It is good to know that Ford is keeping the flame of American ingenuity alive since GM’s hybrid system is simply terrible. It barely improves the fuel economy in the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid and the transition from gas engine to battery is very rough. And GM engineered that powertrain with BMW and Mercedes.
Honda FCX Clarity
I had the good fortune to drive this hydrogen powered car from Honda for a week earlier this year. Hydrogen cars have zero emissions and the Clarity has a range of 250 miles. The Clarity has lithium ion batteries that get there electricity from a chemical reaction with the hydrogen so, in a sense, it is like a hybrid car. Refueling a hydrogen car also only takes a few minutes much like refueling a gasoline powered car.
Hydrogen can be made using solar power and natural gas, so refueling stations don’t ever need to be visited by trucks filled with hydrogen. To my eyes, this is a far more environmentally sound choice than a hybrid or electric vehicle but unfortunately the Clarity is not yet widely for sale.
2010 Lexus RX450h
(30 city/28 highway)-The Lexus RX sport utility is the grandfather of the luxury crossover concept and it still stands as one of the best. While this hybrid version does improve gas mileage somewhat, we still question the point of using hybrid hardware in an already heavy SUV. Hybrid efficiencies work best on lighter cars. That is just a fact.
But if you insist on going the luxury hybrid route there is none better than the Lexus RX450h. If nothing else you will become positively smitten with the ergonomically sound navigation controller that mimics the movements of a mouse. This may not be the most exciting luxury crossover on the market but it is one of the most fuel efficient.