2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup

2013 Acura ILX hybrid
Acura ILX hybrid – courtesy of Acura

Wondering what’s in store for 2013 hybrid vehicles? There are plenty in the works for 2013 and beyond. New vehicles being introduced include the Acura ILX Hybrid, Audi Q5 Hybrid, BMW ActiveHybrid 3, Chevy Malibu Eco, Ford C-MAX Hybrid, Lexus ES 300h, Mercedes E400 Hybrid, Toyota Prius C and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. Note that we only cover traditional hybrids in this article. If you’re looking for plug-in hybrids, check out our 2013 Electric Cars in the USA article.

Acura Hybrid Cars

ILX Hybrid – (39 city /38 highway MPG) The 2013 ILX is Acura’s first hybrid car. The sedan shares the same engine as the Honda Civic Hybrid, but it doesn’t achieve the same gas mileage. Pricing starts at $29,000 and it is already in showrooms.

RLX Hybrid – Acura’s second hybrid is scheduled to arrive in early 2013. It is expected to have 370 HP and get 30/30 MPG. Pricing will be north of $50,000.

 

Audi Hybrid Vehicles

Q5 Hybrid – Audi introduces its first hybrid to the U.S. this fall with the Q5 crossover SUV. EPA fuel economy ratings are not yet available but it should be somewhere around 34 MPG combined. Pricing is expected to be around $50,000.

A6 Hybrid – The hybrid version of the A6 sedan is also supposed to arrive this fall. It is expected to return about 35 MPG combined and have a price north of $55,000.

Audi has an A8 Hybrid debuting in Europe but does not appear to have plans to bring it to the U.S. Continue reading “2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup”

2013 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup


The number of electric car offerings continue to grow at a rapid pace. The options are getting more diverse and the price is coming down a bit. Just 7 EVs were available in 2011, but there will be 16 by the end of 2012 and an additional 19 models are scheduled for 2013 and beyond. New models launching this summer and fall include the Audi R8 E-Tron, Fiat 500 EV, Ford C-MAX Energi, Honda Fit EV, Smart ED, Tesla Model S, Toyota Prius Plug-in, and the Toyota RAV4 EV.

A few notes on the cars and stats listed here:

* This list includes all vehicles that have a significant all-electric range, both pure EVs and plug-in hybrids. If you’re looking for non-plug-in hybrids, look for our upcoming 2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA article.

* The electric range is an extremely variable number, and often the manufacturer quotes the range under “ideal” conditions (low speed, flat roads, moderate temperatures, no heat or A/C on). Be aware that the range can change significantly in not-so-ideal conditions. The Nissan Leaf website has a good explanation on range (click the colored squares for different conditions). The Leaf’s range goes from 138 to 62 depending on conditions!

* The battery charging times are also extremely variable, depending on how high the voltage is, and whether they are quoting time from 0-100% charge, or 20-80% charge, or something in between. Wherever possible, the times we quote are from 0-100% from a dedicated 240-volt outlet.

* Pricing is given before any tax credits. You can view information on federal tax incentives here, and state tax incentives here.

 

Alvarez Electric Motors

This fledgling California company has announced they will be offering three inexpensive, Chinese-built EVs. All have a short range and top speed of only 25 MPH. But the price is nice: $10,000 for a 2-seater, $17,000 for a van and $18,000 for a truck. Their first dealership is opening in Irvine, CA, in August.

 

Audi Electric Vehicles

A3 E-Tron – Audi brought 17 test models of its plug-in electric car to U.S. cities this summer, but it looks like it won’t be hitting showrooms until 2014. It is expected to have 134 horsepower, a top speed of 89 MPH and a 92-mile range.

R8 E-Tron – The plug-in version of Audi’s R8 high-end sports car is expected to go on sale this fall. It has set electric car speed records and is reported to go from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, with a 124 MPH top speed and  a 134-mile range.

Plans for electric versions of the A1 and A2 have been discontinued. Continue reading “2013 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup”

2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup

photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC diesel sedan? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The Mercedes S350 is equipped with a 3.0 liter diesel V6 that generates 240 horsepower and an “incredible” 455 lb.-ft. of torque. It is the second-cheapest model of the S-Class and is the most fuel-efficient of the bunch — even better than the hybrid. The EPA rates the fuel economy to be 21 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. MSRP is $92,550. Continue reading “2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup”

2012 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Diesel SUV: Review Roundup

2012 VW Touareg diesel reviews
photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel vehicle and thinking about the 2012 VW Touareg TDI SUV? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The 2012 Touareg TDI comes in three styles — the Sport, the Lux and the Executive. A 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine powers all three models. The engine generates 225 horsepower and a amazing 406 lbs-ft of torque. EPA fuel economy ratings are 19 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. All styles feature 4-wheel drive and include automatic transmission, a navigation system, Bluetooth, iPod input, Satellite Radio, side/curtain airbags, and stability and traction controls. MSRP: From $46,875 for the Sport; $52,355 for the Lux; and $57,755 for the Executive. Continue reading “2012 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Diesel SUV: Review Roundup”

Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas

Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas
CC flickr photo courtesy of makelessnoise

Even if your wedding color isn’t green, you may still want a “greener” wedding. Whether we are talking about a quiet, quaint experience of only a few dozen close family and friends, or a party for 200 guests, all weddings are major events which can have a large carbon footprint and produce a lot of waste. For couples who are even mildly eco-conscious, there are options that can add an eco-friendly and natural vibe to any size gathering.

Location

One of the biggest decisions a couple will make together is where to get married, and your choice will have a large influence on how eco-friendly your event is. In searching for a sustainably run venue, whether a winery, hotel, or wedding facility, it is important to know:

– Do they recycle?

– Do they take measures to conserve energy and water?

– Has the facility used green building materials in its construction and interior décor?

– If the food is provided for by the venue, are vegetarian, local, or organic options offered?

– If any paper products are used, are they made from recycled, post-consumer waste?

– How far is it located from the homes of most of your guests?

Season

Selecting a late summer or early fall wedding date ensures that local food and flowers are available in abundance, allowing you to avoid having to ship them long distances.

Attire

Weddings are about joining the lives of two people in love.  We all know that.  But let’s be honest ladies…. once we know we are getting married, the first thing we want to do is pick out that wedding dress. For the bride who wants to consider a more sustainable garment, here are a few thoughts.  And remember, there is a sense of romance that can come from considering a garment of less synthetic materials, or one that has a history that precedes the current day, if a bride is open to such ideas.

– The easiest, and often most cost-effective, choice for a wedding dress is to find one on consignment. It can be the most romantic level of recycling, and often a dress can be found for a bargain that is of a much higher quality than the average bride could have afforded new.

– Check out the wedding gowns of your mother, grandmother, aunts, etc. You may just find a family treasure waiting for you in the attic.

– There are many new materials being used to make wedding and other special occasion dresses as beautiful as ever.  Hemp-based silks, organic cottons, nutshells, and more are being used all over the country to create gorgeous pieces. Companies like Conscious Elegance out of Pennsylvania use fair trade policies, and an environmentally sound working environment to carry their eco-friendly values throughout every aspect of their production.

There seem to be fewer eco-friendly options for the groom, but consider the following:

– If you must have tuxedos, renting is more eco-friendly than buying. Consider having your cummerbunds or ties handmade.

– If you are open to more casual suits, several companies make eco-friendly men’s suits, such as this organic hemp suit from Rawganique.

– When renting, look for a place that uses “greener” dry-cleaning methods to clean the suits after you return them.

For the most eco-friendiness, consider a beach or backyard wedding, with a casual dress code for both the wedding party and guests.

Eco Friendly Wedding Food Choices

More than any other choice a couple makes for their wedding, the food they decide to serve can have the largest environmental impact. Factors to consider:

– Is the food locally grown?  This cuts down on the fossils fuels used to deliver the food (and therefore often cuts down on costs as well).

– Is the produce organic?  Sometimes more costly, but often more fresh, and always healthier for both people and the planet.

– Are the meats free range or grass fed?  At the moment both choices tend to cost a bit more, but when it comes to a wedding, the differences are small compared to the statement you make on this milestone event in your life.

– Are sustainably harvested fish or vegetarian choices available?  Often, the delicious meals that incorporate these lower-on-the food chain choices are the greenest, cheapest, and most delectable of all wedding menu faire.  And guests never miss the meat!

Environmentally Friendly Wedding Flowers

Brides often have a favorite flower they want in their bouquet, or a color they want to match the wedding theme. Keep in mind that the most environmentally savvy choice is almost always locally grown. Ask your florist what flowers are in bloom and locally available during the month of your event. If you choose a location of natural beauty, such as a garden or beach, you can let mother nature take care of most of the decorations.

Eco Friendly Wedding Favors

One of the most fun and creative aspects of planning a wedding is choosing the favors that each guest will take home.  There are limitless eco-friendly choices, and they can both be beautiful and inspiring. Tiny trees in a little pot in the wedding colors look gorgeous on a table and can be a reminder of the day for years to come. Packets of flower or herb seeds are another wonderful keepsake, and are inexpensive. Soy or beeswax candles are a bit more costly, but a very elegant gift.  Anything that can be used again and again rather than thrown away is a good choice. Or skip the favors altogether and make a donation to an earth-friendly charity on the behalf of your guests instead.

Transportation

Nearly every wedding party relies on a limousine of some type to get the whole gang to and from each venue.  We have seen Hummer limos, Escalade limos, and the traditional sedans as well. While it may be the one and only time a bride and groom opt for such a gas-guzzling machine, the more couples that choose greener, cleaner forms of transportation, the more limo companies will be forced to invest in other types of engines for their vehicles. If using a limo of some kind is unavoidable, choosing a venue where both the ceremony and reception can both take place cuts down on wasted energy — and wasted time commuting from one spot to another.

Of course, it goes without saying that eloping or making a quick trip to the local courthouse is the most eco-friendly choice of all… but who doesn’t want to celebrate their love with friends and family? Incorporate a few eco-friendly ideas and give the planet a reason to celebrate with you.

2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI Diesel: Review Roundup

2012 volkswagen golf tdi
photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the 2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI Diesel? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Golf TDI is the 2.0 liter, four-cylinder clean diesel engine that gives the car 30 MPG in the city and 42 MPG on the highway. Its power may be considered somewhat modest with at 140 horsepower. However, it does provide 236 lbs-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm and since the engine is a turbo, it moves quite quickly. MSRP starts at $24,235

Autos.aol.com — 2012 Volkswagen Golf Expert Review: New Car Test Drive

AOL Autos starts out calling the Golf “enjoyable to drive, smooth and fuel efficient.”

The Golf is offered with a choice of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic referred to as the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). AOL Autos notes that the Golf is slower from 0-60 than the gas model, but the higher level of torque at lower RPMs results in “responsive performance around town” Continue reading “2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI Diesel: Review Roundup”

2012 Buick Regal eAssist Sedan: Review Roundup

2012 buick regal eassist review
Photo courtesy of General Motors

Shopping for a 2012 hybrid vehicle and thinking about the 2012 Buick Regal eAssist sedan? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The 2012 Regal is one of two cars in the Buick line that comes with eAssist technology.  It includes a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder ECOTEC gasoline engine and an electric motor powered by a lithium ion battery pack, which powers the motor as well as the radio, climate control and other accessories. The motor provides a 15-horsepower boost and the technology permits the car to achieve EPA fuel economy ratings of 25 MPG city and 36 MPG highway. There is also a start/stop technology that seamlessly shifts power from the gasoline engine to the electric motor and back, thus conserving fuel. Stepping off the throttle turns the gasoline engine off, stepping off the brake restarts the gasoline engine. In other words, you can coast using the electric motor, but it doesn’t power the drivetrain by itself. Other features include regenerative braking, which harvests the energy from the brakes and diverts it to the battery. Continue reading “2012 Buick Regal eAssist Sedan: Review Roundup”

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Review Roundup

2012 hyundai sonata hybrid reviews
photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Shopping for a 2012 hybrid car and thinking about the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The 2012 Sonata Hybrid is a midsize sedan that competes in the family car category with the Ford Fusion and the Toyota Camry. It features a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine and Hyundai’s Blue Drive fully parallel hybrid system.  The powertrain generates 206 horsepower and achieves an EPA fuel economy rating of 40 MPG on the highway.  The car was introduced in the 2011 model year. The Hyundai Blue Link Telematics system, a three-piece moonroof,  a navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen and HD radio are new for 2012.  MSRP starts at $25,850. Continue reading “2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Review Roundup”

2013 Acura ILX Hybrid: Rumor and Review Roundup

2012 acura ilx hybrid
photo courtesy of Acura

Considering a new 2013 hybrid and wondering about the 2013 Acura ILX hybrid? Here’s a roundup of what we know about the vehicle so far. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The 2013 ILX hybrid isn’t totally a secret. We didn’t have to contract the CIA to find out about it. In fact, a concept of the car was displayed at a number of auto shows including the 2012 Chicago Auto Show held in February. Acura’s website is showing videos of the car and it’s due out in late May. If you want to get in on the ground floor, so to speak, there is a page on the Acura website where you can sign up to receive details on the vehicle before it is released. According to Acura, the registration commits you to nothing and you can opt out of the process at any time. Pricing for the hybrid ILX starts at $28,900. Continue reading “2013 Acura ILX Hybrid: Rumor and Review Roundup”

2012 Toyota Prius V Hybrid Wagon: Review Roundup

2012 Toyota Prius v
photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, USA

Shopping for a hybrid vehicle and thinking about the 2012 Toyota Prius v hybrid wagon? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The Toyota Prius was the first hybrid to really get the attention of the American public when it was introduced in the 1990s. Now the Japanese manufacturer has expanded the line to include a plug-in hybrid, a wagon known as the v, and a smaller model called the Prius c.

The Prius V has an EPA fuel efficiency rating of 44 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. MSRP is $26,400. Continue reading “2012 Toyota Prius V Hybrid Wagon: Review Roundup”

2012 Mercedes R350 BlueTEC Diesel People Mover: Review Roundup

2012 mercedes r350 diesel
photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTEC crossover diesel? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

It is the diesel turbo engine of the Mercedes R350 that excites consumers. The 3.0 liter turbodiesel V6 engine generates 210 horsepower and the vehicle has a maximum towing capacity of 3500 lbs. It gets 18 MPG city and 23 MPG highway. MSRP is $53,840.

Kelly Blue Book — 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class Review

Kelley Blue Book starts out with a comment on the design of the vehicle:  “It’s definitely not a minivan nor is it really a crossover (even though that’s what Mercedes-Benz calls it). Rather, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class has staked its territory as a no-nonsense rolling monument to practicality.” They like the diesel engine, noting: “the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTEC is quick enough to keep you from lamenting the diesel engine…. This great engine proves the viability of the right diesel in the right machine.” Continue reading “2012 Mercedes R350 BlueTEC Diesel People Mover: Review Roundup”

2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Diesel: Review Roundup

2012 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel Reviews
photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the Volkswagen Jetta TDI? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The Jetta experienced a redesign for the 2011 model year.  The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Diesel is powered by a 2.0-liter diesel inline 4-cylinder that generates 140 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. VW also offers an optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It has an EPA fuel economy rating of 30 MPG in the city and 42 MPG on the highway. Standard equipment includes a navigation system, Bluetooth, iPod input, Satellite Radio, side and curtain air bags, and stability and traction control. MSRP starts at $22,775.

Car and Driver — 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan TDI Diesel

Car and Driver noted that the Jetta is larger since its redesign in the 2011 model year and that the base price of the car was reduced. They mark the highs as a roomy back seat, good fuel economy, efficient diesel engine, a good base price, and a sports-sedan handling and feel. They identify low to be the interior, which they say lacks the “richness” of the previous version.

They conclude, “Despite cost cutting, the Jetta is still a solid-feeling sedan with good steering and handling.”

Cars.com — 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

Cars.com reported that the standard manual transmission features stiffer clutch pedals than any other compact car they have driven. They also cautioned that they stalled more than once, but not from a standstill: “Every stall happened at low speeds when I thought 2nd gear was called for, but the engine bogged and stalled. Once I started keeping it in 1st gear longer, the stalls stopped.”

They found the car to be “punchy” after driving it.  “The Jetta TDI moves away from lights and passes quickly. There wasn’t lag at any point, and it always felt like there was more power on tap,” they said. They also said that the car’s performance made it fun to drive. This is because the car has more torque than other cars in its classification due to the diesel engine.

They liked the steering too. However, they did comment that it required more effort. “The payoff is that it also gives you more feedback and you feel more connected to what the car is doing… It’s my favorite steering in this car class.”

Handling also passed muster with them. “It feels planted to the road, and the suspension and chassis are well-tuned. The Jetta doesn’t squat or roll as much as others in this segment do, so it feels level going through turns. The suspension absorbs bumps very well for a small car, and that gives you a sense of security at high speeds. The road doesn’t beat up and toss the car around,” they said.

They noted that the car is not as “light and sprightly” as the previous version.

C&D concluded, “To my mind, the new Jetta isn’t a dilution of the previous model, it’s simply a slightly different take on the car — but the spirit of the machine remains.”

Edmunds.com — 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

What jumped out to Edmunds was the roomy interior and that the car was more affordable.

Their review identified the pros to be a spacious interior and trunk, that the car was well-equipped and featured a smart electronics interface, and that the diesel engine was fuel efficient.

They defined the cons to be “lackluster interior materials, sluggish throttle with automatic, and numb steering.”

They cautioned that the newly designed Jetta may be lacking in what it had in the previous models because the German manufacturer wants to attract more entry-level buyers. The car has been downgraded somewhat and the price has been reduced substantially. “The Volkswagen Jetta once presented a good middle ground between Japanese compact sedans and entry-level German luxury. It offered a sturdy chassis, tasteful interior materials and enough sport to make the package lively around town. Most buyers felt the premium quality was worth the extra price of admission. But Volkswagen thought the premium price discouraged an even greater amount of shoppers. So last year it made its redesigned Jetta a centerpiece of an aggressive new pricing strategy,” they reported.

On interior design and special features, Edmunds wrote, “ We particularly like the available touchscreen stereo interface and its redundant dial knob that’s ideal for controlling an iPod. The associated navigation system, however, is a bit of a letdown due to the small screen and limited amount of displayed information.”

Their driving impressions were pretty good. “Though it’s notably more expensive than the 2.5-equipped SE and SEL, the TDI is a keen choice thanks to its meaty low-end torque and frugal fuel economy. The manual would again be a preferred choice, though the [automatic], with its automated and manual modes, works well as a best-of-both-worlds choice,” they said.

2012 Volkswagen Jetta Clean Diesel TDI Review Summary

In conclusion, the consensus appears to be:

Likes:

  • Roomy back seat
  • Good fuel economy
  • Efficient diesel engine
  • Good base price
  • Sports-sedan handling and feel
  • Good steering
  • Punchy
  • Great torque
  • Cruising range

Dislikes:

  • Interior not as rich
  • Stiff clutch pedals
  • Stalling problems with manual transmission
  • Handling not as light and sprightly

Do you own this car, or have you driven one? What’s your take?

Leave a comment and help out the people who are researching this car!

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Diesel: Review Roundup

Volkswagen Passat TDI diesel 2012
photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the Volkswagen Passat TDI? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The 2.0 turbocharged diesel inline 4 engine in the 2012 Volkswagen Passat has a dazzling EPA fuel economy rating of 31 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. Although many may find that it lacks punch on initial acceleration, it’s been clocked at 9.1 seconds in the 0-60 mph test.

The Diesel Driver — 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Review and Report

 The Diesel Driver wrote, “I found the Passat TDI to be an excellent Autobahn cruiser.  Expansion joints, bumps, and potholes go practically unnoticed. Passengers will not be disturbed. It is Verboten.”

It was the torque that they really liked. “Ultimately, it’s the torque of the diesel engine we’re after, not the horsepower, and the omnipresent 236 pound-feet available to the driver made overtaking on highways something to look forward to,” they continued. Continue reading “2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Diesel: Review Roundup”

2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup

2012 mercedes ml350 bluetec diesel
photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel SUV and thinking about the Mercedes ML350 BlueTEC? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The Mercedes-Benz ML350 M-Class SUV has been redesigned for 2012. Under its hood is a redesigned 3.0 liter V-6 turbo-diesel engine that generates 240 horsepower — that’s an increase of 30 horses from the previous model. The redesigned ML350 is about 1-inch longer and half an inch wider than the previous model. Cargo space measures  7 cubic feet more than before. It features 4MATIC all-wheel drive and gets 20 MPG city and 27 MPG highway. Base price for the diesel is about $50,490.

Car and Driver – 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-class ML350 BlueTEC

C&D discusses much-needed changes including a repositioning of the turn signal/wiper stalk and the cruise control command. Still, they complained that “you’ll still find yourself flicking at the column-mounted gear selector whenever you desire wipers. It’s annoying.” Continue reading “2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup”

2012 Mercedes E350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup

2012 mercedes e350 diesel
photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTEC sedan? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

Perhaps the most eye-opening news about the 2012 Mercedes E350  is the 3.0 liter BlueTEC diesel engine, which generates 210 horsepower, sprints from 0 to 60 in 9.0 seconds and has a fuel economy rating of 21 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway. The E350 diesel comes only in rear-wheel drive with a 7-speed automatic transmission. The MSRP runs from $50,490 to $88,900.

AOL Autos – 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Expert Review

AOL Autos reports that “We particularly like the diesel-powered E350 BlueTEC sedan. Mercedes’ V6 turbodiesel is the smoothest, quietest diesel engine available, so virtually all the smoky, clattering drawbacks of more traditional diesel power are gone (though the oily diesel smell during fill-ups remains). Performance is virtually identical the gasoline-powered E350…” Continue reading “2012 Mercedes E350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup”

2012 BMW X5 xDrive35d Diesel: Review Roundup

bmw xdrive 35d 2012
photo courtesy of BMW of North America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel and thinking about the BMW X5 xDrive35d SUV? Here’s a round up of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The BMW X5 xDrive35d  experienced a major refreshening in 2011 and, although some options have become standard, not much has changed for the 2012 model year. Of course, it is the  diesel engine that attracts interest in this car. It sprints from 0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds and fuel economy is attractive at 19 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. MSRP starts at about $52,000.

The Diesel Driver — BMW X5 xDrive35d Review

The Diesel Driver touts the diesel engine on the xDrive 35d. They say, “While the 335d is the embodiment of the Ultimate Driving Machine, the X5 xDrive35d, which competes with the Audi Q7 TDI, Mercedes-Benz GL320 BlueTEC, and the Volkswagen Touareg, is the performance leader in this crowd.” Continue reading “2012 BMW X5 xDrive35d Diesel: Review Roundup”

2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC Diesel SUV: Review Roundup

mercedes gl350 diesel 2012 SUV
photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel SUV and thinking about the Mercedez GL350 in a clean diesel BlueTec model? Here’s a round up of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

Some may think that the 2012 Mercedes GL 350 BlueTEC Diesel may be getting a little old. After all, the design was unveiled in 2006. Back then, Mercedes specifically designed the vehicle for the American market. Since then, diesel options have become more widely available on the U.S. market, and the result is that Americans are beginning to view a diesel engine is a good alternative to gasoline. The GL350 boasts a 3.0 liter V-6 turbocharged diesel engine. It is the turbocharged aspect that makes the diesel a lot more efficient. The EPA estimates fuel economy to be 17 MPG city/21 MPG highway and Mercedes claims that the vehicle goes from 0 to 60 in 9.4 seconds. MSRP is $61,570. Here is a quick summary of reviews of the GL350 diesel:

Forbes.com – 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC Test Drive and Review: A Hug for Diesel

An article published by Forbes points out that “Europeans have long embraced diesel-powered passenger cars. Diesel fuel requires less refining than gasoline. Diesel packs more punch than gas — about 147,000 BTU per gallon for diesel versus 125,000 BTU per gallon for gas. And diesel puts off less CO2, CO and hydrocarbons than gas.” However, it also noted that there are downsides.  “Burning diesel versus gas results in higher levels of nitrogen compounds and soot, both of which can be very harmful to human health. Because of increased demand, diesel has lost its price advantage over gasoline in the past few years.” Still, “clean” diesel and hybrid engines are considered a better alternative than gasoline as far as the environment is concerned. Continue reading “2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC Diesel SUV: Review Roundup”

2012 Audi A3 TDI Diesel: Review Roundup

2012 Audi A3 TDI
photo courtesy of Audi of America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the Audi A3 TDI wagon? Here’s a round up of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

Although the car hasn’t gone through any major revisions since 2006, efficient and practical are two words that best describe the 2012 Audi A3 TDI. It’s practical due to its five-door hatchback design. It has been said that it feels like a scaled down A4, which is a good thing. It is efficient thanks to the 2.0 TDI clean diesel engine, which generates 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. There is a version that offers front-wheel drive and one that provides all-wheel drive. Of course fuel economy is impressive with an EPA-rated 30 MPG in the city and a quite acceptable 42 MPG on the highway. MSRP is around $30,250.

Car and Driver Buyer’s Guide – 2012 Audi A3 TDI Diesel

Car and Driver marks the A3’s high points as a “willing chassis, fuel-sipping diesel option, spirited gas turbo four, handsome inside and out, practical to park and place in traffic.” The magazine knocks the rather pricey costs of accessories which can cause the sticker price to “soar.” Moreover, the interior design is in need of a refresh.  C&D editors also like its “athletic” suspension, and dependable steering and concluded that it is “fun to drive.” Continue reading “2012 Audi A3 TDI Diesel: Review Roundup”

Party Time! Here Are Some Eco Friendly Party Ideas

Eco-friendly party ideas
CC flickr photo courtesy of JAGwired

You can carry over your eco-friendly living ideas into any type of party — from lavish holiday dinners to children’s birthday parties. With just a little planning, you can find green solutions to almost any party need. Here are a few tips to help you get started planning your next big event.

Don’t use Throwaways

Throwaway plates and cups make clean up easier, but are hard on the environment. If you must use throwaways, choose paper over Styrofoam, and look for ones that are made from recycled materials and are BPA-free.

Better yet, buy reusable plates and platters that you only use for these special occasions. There is even compostable bamboo dishes for parties. Use it over and over again, and then when you can use it no more, you can throw it in your own compost pile and make use of it in your yard and garden. With the help of friends and family, dishes can be washed quickly.

It can be more difficult with utensils if you don’t have enough of your everyday silverware for a party. Look for spoons, forks and knives made from recycled materials, and then when the party’s over wash them and put them away for the next party instead of pitching them. Choosing utensils made of wood, bamboo, corn or even potatoes will make a great conversation starters, and help you spread the word about the positive methods for conservation. Continue reading “Party Time! Here Are Some Eco Friendly Party Ideas”

Eco-Friendly Hotels: What to Look For

Eco-Friendly Hotel
Orchard Garden Hotel - CC flickr photo by DoNotLick

Choosing an eco-friendly hotel when you travel is a natural extension of your environmental commitment at home. Whether you incorporate eco-friendly products into your life because they are healthier for you and your family, because you are concerned for the environment, or both, supporting green hotels just makes sense.

What Makes a Hotel Eco-Friendly?

At first thought, you may wonder what kinds of things to look for when choosing the best eco-friendly hotels. Ideally, eco-friendly hotels should use some form of sustainable energy, such as solar, wind or hydro-power for at least some of their needs. This can be difficult for older hotels that are converting to an eco-friendly establishment. But even older hotels can use energy-conscious methods such as low-energy light bulbs.

An environmentally conscious hotel should incorporate recycling and water conservation into their program. One way hotels can conserve resources is to only change the sheets and towels in your suite when you request it. This cuts down on water and energy usage. Continue reading “Eco-Friendly Hotels: What to Look For”