2011 Lexus LS 600h L Hybrid: Review Roundup

Lexus LS Hybrid Review RoundupThe Lexus 600h L hybrid car is Lexus’s attempt at cornering the luxury full-size sedan market and it’s a hybrid to boot. Let’s see what the automotive press had to say about it.

MotorTrend – 2011 Lexus LS 600h L First Test (March 2011)

Many reviewers note the extremity of the noiseless, vibrationless ride that this car offers. MotorTrend speaks of Lexus’s “single-minded pursuit of isolating passengers from the outside world.” They continue: “The automaker says the car is one of the quietest automobiles ever built, and we have no reason to doubt that claim.”

But MotorTrend wasn’t impressed by the powertrain. It lacks the speed and power of its competitors, yet doesn’t deliver enough fuel efficiency to really compensate for that. The reviewer says: “The L in the LS 600h L stands for Lagging, as in lagging behind the competition.” The 600h L delivered 20 MPG in combined city/highway driving during testing.

2011 Chevy Volt Electric Hybrid: Review Roundup

Chevrolet Volt Review RoundupHere’s a round-up of reviews about Chevy’s flagship plug-in electric vehicle hybrid, the 2011 edition of the Volt.

Edmunds – 2011 Chevrolet Volt

Edmunds does a good job of explaining exactly what the Volt is:

“The Volt is a four-seat, four-door ‘series-parallel plug-in hybrid’ hatchback with a lithium-ion battery pack that can power the car’s 149-horsepower (111-kilowatt) electric motor by itself for an estimated 40 miles in the city. After that, the gasoline-powered inline-4 engine primarily supplies electricity to the motor for as many as 300 additional miles. All told, the Volt is the most advanced hybrid to date and quite possibly the most fuel-efficient car you will be able to buy.”

They note that there is no standard way to determine fuel-efficiency. If you never fully deplete the battery (by going a short distance at an easy clip and recharging the car every night) then you may never use any fuel. But over longer distances, you’ll use gas. Edmunds measured the fuel economy of the Volt with an empty battery and found it to be 31.4 mpg. In their long-term road test, they found the Volt varied between 47.9 and 111.5 in “apparent” MPG.

2012 Hybrid Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup


Update: We have now published the 2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA article.

In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new hybrid car? 2012 is shaping to be an important year in the story of hybrid vehicles, as almost every major manufacturer will be offering, releasing, or announcing a hybrid product.

While the Tohuku earthquake in Japan has affected 2011 plans, the Japanese are muscling ahead with 2012 hybrid launches. The Germans have finally entered the hybrid market in a serious way, with BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche all offering a hybrid product – especially on their SUVs. Of the domestic manufacturers, GM is still evolving their hybrid full-size SUVs, but is readying some car hybrids for 2012 that should give Ford’s dominance in domestic hybrid sales a strong challenge. Chrysler’s recent reorganization with Fiat means hybrid drivetrains won’t be expected from them until 2013 however.

The most exciting thing about the 2012 lineup is that hybrid technology has been embraced by the mainstream as an important way of improving the environmental impact of car usage. One study predicts that all new cars will have some level of hybridization by 2020.

So here is the lineup of 2012’s hybrid cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups. Please note that we define hybrid vehicles as ones that have a drivetrain that can be powered by its gasoline engine. See our 2012 Electric Car Lineup for vehicles with drivetrains powered only by their electric motor.

Audi Hybrids

Audi, as part of the massive VW universe (along with Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Skoda and Seat) has committed resources for hybrid models after witnessing their success here. While European markets are still more interested in diesel engines, Americans have been clamoring – and will now get – hybridized Audis, albeit slowly. Audi continues to maintain, though, that diesels are the superior engine of choice for efficiency.

2012 Hybrid Cars USA
2012 Audi Q5 Hybrid

Q5 Hybrid Quattro car – The first Audi hybrid car to reach our shores for sale, the Q5 mates a compact crossover body with an efficient all-wheel drivetrain. Utilizing a 208hp 4-cylinder engine as its base, Audi mates a 44hp electric motor to give its first hybrid the scoot of the V6 (0-60 in 7 flat) with economy better than the base 4 (an estimated 33 MPG combined). Audi claims the Q5 is able to run for almost 2 miles on electricity alone at speeds under 62 MPH, but few reviewers have been able to achieve that. Expect a 15% price premium, at an estimated MSRP of $48,000 when it goes on sale.

 

A6 Hybrid car (2012 or 2013) – At the January 2011 Detroit auto show, Audi unveiled an A6 sedan with a hybrid powertrain borrowed from the Q5. Despite the combination being showroom ready, Audi has not released an on-sale date for the hybrid sedan.

10 Fun Facts About Electric Cars

Tesla electric car
CC Flickr photo of Tesla electric car courtesy of faceme.

Electric cars are getting a lot of attention lately. With a growing concern about the impacts that driving has on our environment, consumers and automakers are moving towards more sustainable models. Electric cars are just like regular cars, but they have electric motors that run on electricity from a battery, instead of (or sometimes in addition to) an internal combustion energy that burns gasoline. This means reduced or no greenhouse-gas emissions. While some electric vehicle models feature a small gas engine to compliment the electric drivetrain, some models run on battery power alone.

Here’s a list of 10 fun facts about electric cars:

Best efficient SUVs with higher gas mileage for 2011

Looking for the best SUV when it comes to good gas mileage and efficiency? Here’s our roundup of some top options for 2011.

Environmentalists have an uneasy relationship with the sports utility vehicle (SUV). Cars are one of the largest contributors to airborne pollution and climate change. SUVs, with their low fuel-efficiency and wild popularity in the last two decades, seem to epitomize a disregard for emissions that troubles environmentalists. No popular model raised more ire than the Hummer (which had an estimated 14 miles per gallon highway and 10 mpg city).

While it can’t be said that traditional SUVs are in any way “green,” they are still a popular choice. With economic conditions improving and new energy-efficient technologies coming to the marketplace, many car manufacturers are making their products more environmentally-friendly in hopes that SUV sales will rebound. Here’s a look at a few options. If you absolutely, positively need an SUV, but want to minimize pollution and the high cost of fuel, these are some of your best options.

Best environmental SUV
CC flickr photo courtesy of tom.arthur - The Ford Escape Hybrid