Clean, Low-Emissions 2010 Cars For The Green Driver

May 15, 2010/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS DOWN THE ROAD BY CHERYL JENSEN

Kelley Blue Book recently named the Top 10 Green Cars of 2010 and the Union of Concerned Scientists, a scientific research nonprofit based in Cambridge Mass., updated its own Hybrid Scorecard. Both can be a good source of information for someone looking for a fuel-efficient vehicle – and one that releases fewer harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
Kelley Blue Book’s Top 10 Green Cars(www.kbb.com/kbb/green-cars) includes EPA-estimated fuel economy figures and information about why each model made its green list. The list consists of more than just small hybrids because the KBB editors wanted to offer choices to people who have a wide range of needs, some of which can’t be met by small sedans.
In KBB’s Top 10 Green Cars of 2010, each vehicle that made list had to offer fuel economy and CO2 emissions superior to most of the vehicles in its class, as well as provide all the safety, comfort and convenience features – plus driving enjoyment — that would make it a pleasant vehicle to own.
While many vehicles on the list are hybrids and have been on the list before, conventional vehicles are represented as well — and some new models have been added. New to the list are the Volkswagen Golf TDI and the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid.
The Golf TDI is one of the newest clean diesels.

The editors chose it because, they wrote, it offers “hybrid-like fuel efficiency without the complication, weight and expense of a big battery pack,” like those in hybrids. And, while the Tahoe Hybrid obviously doesn’t get Prius-like fuel economy, KBB editors noted it is “substantially more efficient and Earth-friendly than its conventionally powered brethren.”
The Top 10 2010s and their city/highway mileage estimates, starting from the bottom and working up to the No. 1 greenest vehicles are: Chevy Tahoe Hybrid (21/22 mpg); Toyota Highlander Hybrid (27/25 mpg); BMW 335d (23/36); Honda Fit (28/35); Ford Escape Hybrid (34/31); Mini Cooper (28/37); Volkswagen Golf TDI (30/42); Ford Fusion Hybrid (41/36); Honda Insight (40/43); and Toyota Prius (51/48).
In updating its Hybrid Scorecard analysis, the Union of Concerned Scientists looked at the different approach BMW and Mercedes-Benz took to the hybrid powertrains of the BMW ActiveHybrid X6 and the Mercedes-Benz S400 and has added these two new vehicles to its Hybrid Scorecard.
The UCS scorecard consists of three scores. First is an Environmental Score from 0 (the worst) to 10 (the best), which measures how much global warming and tailpipe emissions have been reduced by the hybrid system. Second is a Hybrid Value score (ranging from Very Low to Very High), which rates how much it costs to achieve those emissions reduction, what it calls an environmental “bang for your buck”; and third is a Forced Features score (ranging from None to $$$$$), which looks at how many features hybrid buyers are forced to buy because they come standard, thereby inflating the cost of the hybrid.
USC scientists gave the X6 hybrid a low Environmental Score of 4.4 saying it “squanders” its hybrid drivetrain by boosting power on an already powerful eight-cylinder engine and comes with $10,000 of “forced features.”
The S400 fares better with a 5.3 Environmental Score. Union scientists noted that the Mercedes S400 Hybrid actually costs less than the conventional gasoline S550, “a first for a hybrid,” and has no Forced Features. To see the full Scorecard, visit (www.hybridcenter.org). — Cheryl Jensen, Motor Matters

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010