2014 Hybrid Cars in the USA: See the new lineup

The U.S. hybrid vehicle market is expanding rapidly as lower prices make the initial investment a more attractive long-term investment for buyers. New to the market are the Audi Q5, Honda Accord, Infinity Q50, Infinity QX60, Mercedes-Benz E400, and Subaru XV Crosstrek, with several others to debut in 2014.

Our list includes cars, SUVs/CUVs, and pickups. If you are in the market for a plug-in hybrid, see our 2014 electric vehicle list.

Courtesy of Acura
Courtesy of Acura

Acura Hybrids

ILX hybrid – No changes to Acura’s only hybrid sedan, launched in 2013. The ILX gets 39/38/38 mpg and retains its starting price of $29,000.

RLX – The RLZ’s hybrid engine is not yet offered but may arrive to dealerships this fall as a 2014 sedan option. No specs have been released yet.

Audi Hybrids

Q5 hybrid – The Q5 hybrid CUV was released last fall. Pricing for the 2013 starts at $50,900 and the Q5 hybrid maintains an average of 24/30/26 mpg. It does not appear that any changes will be included in the 2014 model. However, similar to other Audi models, anticipate a price hike to $51,300 for 2014.

A6 hybrid – The Audi A6 hybrid sedan will enter the U.S. market a bit later than expected: sometime in 2014. Reports claim that the anticipated fuel economy rating should be about 44 combined mpg. No word yet on pricing.

Courtesy of BMW of North America
Courtesy of BMW of North America

BMW Hybrids

ActiveHybrid 3 – No changes to this model, which was redesigned for 2013. The sedan hybrid gets 25/33/28 mpg and starts at $49,700.

ActiveHybrid 5 – New for 2013, this midsize sedan gets 30 highway mpg and starts at $61,400. A slight mid-cycle revision may appear in 2014 5-series models, but no word if that will transfer over to the ActiveHybrid 5.

ActiveHybrid 7 – Like the ActiveHybrid 3, this luxury sedan was revamped in 2013 and starts at $84,300. Also like the ActiveHybrid 5, it gets 30 highway mpg. The 7-series 2015 models will be redesigned, particularly where vehicle weight is concerned, but no word on whether this will affect the hybrid model.

Some believe that BMW’s next hybrid move, whose lineup is currently devoid of a hybrid SUV/CUV, might take the form of an hybrid X5.

Courtesy of Buick: General Motors
Courtesy of Buick: General Motors

Buick Hybrids

LaCrosse with e-Assist – The new 2014 model, slated for fall sales, will come standard with Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system and will offer subscription-based XM Travel Link. New interior and exterior touches are present, along with enhanced safety features. Details haven’t been released yet, but the 2013 model got 25/36 mpg and started at $31,660.

Regal with e-Assist – A redesigned Regal will hit markets this fall and comes standard with e-Assist. New interior and exterior safety and technology features are included, similar to the LaCrosse. The 2014 will also include a new 259-hp turbo engine and available AWD. No word yet on pricing or fuel efficiency, but the 2013 regal gets 19/31 mpg and starts at $29,015.

Cadillac Hybrids

Escalade hybrid – The Escalade hybrid will be discontinued for 2014 as it makes way for an all-new 2015 Escalade model. The outgoing 2013 hybrid model starts at $74,425 and gets 20/23.

SRX – An SRX hybrid option may be available when the re-designed SRX enters the market in 2015. The same source also hints at a potential hybrid XTS for the 2015 model release.

Chevrolet Hybrids

Silverado hybrid – This year, the V8 Silverado pickup comes with an optional ECOTEC hybrid engine that packs 332-hp. 2WD models get 23 highway mpg while 4WD models get 22 highway mpg. The Silverado hybrid starts at $32,200.

Tahoe hybrid – The 2013 Tahoe SUV gets the same mpg and offers the same horsepower as the Silverado. Its base price is $53,620. A 2014 Tahoe hybrid model may include a lower curb weight, increasing the Tahoe hybri’s fuel efficiency even more.

Chrysler Hybrids

Still no definitive word on a Chrysler’s first possible U.S. hybrid and whether that will come in the highly-anticipated form of a 300.

Dodge Hybrids

Still no U.S. hybrids on the horizon for Dodge.

Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford Hybrids

Fusion hybrid – Redesigned in 2013, no major changes to the 2014 model, which gets 47/47 mpg and starts at $27,391.

C-Max hybrid – Released last year, there will be no changes in 2014. The C-Max hybrid also gets 47/47 and starts at $25,200, or can be leased for $239 for two years, which may be when we see the C-Max’s design refreshed.

GMC Hybrids

Yukon hybrid – A 2014 Yukon hybrid model may have been spotted (or is that a Chevrolet Tahoe?) that sports a new platform and powertrain. The 2013 model starts at $54,154 while the Yukon Denali hybrid starts at $61,960. Both models get 20/23 mpg, but expect this rating to increase in the 2014 model if the powertrain is upgraded sufficiently and vehicle weight lowered.

Sierra 1500 hybrid – The Sierra has been redesigned for 2014, featuring a more comfortable and refined interior including high-quality seat foam, as well as added conveniences to the center console, a USB port, and improved rear-seat legroom on certain models. The 2014 Sierra hybrid gets 18/24 mpg and starts at $32,700.

Courtesy of American Honda Motor Company
Courtesy of American Honda Motor Company

Honda Hybrids

Insight – Changes are expected to the 2014 Insight. Speculated are engine enhancements and a smaller frame–upping the fuel efficiency–and also a lower price. The 2013 model has a fuel economy rating of 41/44 mpg and starts at $18,600.

Civic hybrid sedan – The Civic hybrid’s recent changes mirror the 2013 updates to the entire Civic line, including premium design elements and cosmetic interior touches. The 2014 Civic hybrid remains unchanged and gets 32 mpg combined (automatic). The Civic hybrid starts at $24,360.

CR-Z sport hybrid – The 2014 model has received some updates including an upgraded battery pack, which increases the horsepower by 8 for a total of 138-hp. Exterior changes are minimal but the CR-Z now features a rear spoiler. No word on the fuel efficiency or pricing of the 2014 model. The 2013 gets 36/39 mpg and starts at $19,975.

Accord hybrid – The Accord hybrid will arrive to dealerships this October, offering a projected fuel efficiency of 47 mpg combined. No word yet on pricing.

Hyundai Hybrids

Sonata hybrid – 2014 model redesigns are confirmed, but details have not yet been released. We expect changes that increase the car’s fuel efficiency, currently at 35/40. The 2013 Sonata hybrid starts at $25,650.

Infiniti Hybrids

M hybrid – A redesign is planned for 2014 to incorporate a more sleek, refined exterior appearance. We don’t expect any changes to the 2014 model, however, which gets 32 highway mpg and starts at $48,700.

Q50 hybridInfinity has announced pricing for their hybrid sedan that features a 328-hp V6 engine that is estimated to achieve 36 highway mpg. Pricing starts around $44,000 and cars will be available at U.S. dealers this summer.

QX60 hybrid – The QX60 V6 hybrid CUV will hit dealerships this summer. Infinity has not released the fuel efficiency rating but already claims it will be “best-in-class.” Speculation suggests we’ll see a 26 mpg combined fuel rating and anticipated starting price around $45,000.

Jaguar Hybrids

Several hybrid models are currently in testing, including the C-X16, C-X75, and XJ, but none have been slated for production.

Jeep Hybrids

Jeep is not offering any hybrid vehicles at this time.

Kia Hybrids

Optima hybrid – The Optima was updated for 2013, so no changes for 2014. This hybrid gets 37-38 combined mpg depending on trim and starts at $25,900.

Land Rover Hybrids

Range Rover Diesel-hybrid – Not only will European drivers get to experience a 3.0-liter diesel-hybrid Range Rover, American drivers will, too. The Range Rover will arrive at overseas dealerships sometime after 2013, with American sales to follow.

Courtesy of Lexus
Courtesy of Lexus

Lexus Hybrids

ES 300h hybrid – The ES sedan, released last year, offers 200 total horsepower and still achieves a 40/39 mpg. The 300h starts at $39,250 and the 2014 model will see modest changes, including an updated front grille.

CT 200h hybrid – This sporty hatchback comes in two trims and both get 43/40 mpg. The CT200h starts at $32,050 while the CT F Sport starts at $33,050. The CT is only one of two Lexus models that has not yet been fully upgraded, so a 2014 refresh may be in the works.

RX 450h hybrid – This hybrid CUV packs a total of 295 horsepower and received a cosmetic update for its 2013 model. It achieves 32/28 and starts at $46,310. Anticipate a redesigned 2015 model (including potential engine efficiency upgrade) to arrive at dealerships in early 2014.

GS 450h hybrid – No word on changes to this sedan, which was redesigned last year. The 2013-2014 model gets 29/34 mpg and starts at $59,450.

LS 600h L hybrid – A V8 engine and electric motor provides 438 total horsepower to this luxury hybrid. With no 2014 model changes, the sedan gets 19/23 mpg and comes with a heftier price tag of $119,910.

NX 300h hybrid – Lexus officials have indicated that a Lexus compact hybrid SUV will be forthcoming, but have yet to announce whether the vehicle will be sold in the U.S.

Lincoln Hybrids

MKZ hybrid – Lincoln’s only hybrid remains the MKZ, which was redesigned for 2013. The 2013 model now gets 45/45 mpg and remains at the same price point of $35,925. Lincoln expects the MKZ to be a successful competitor in the hybrid market and therefore has recently announced a 50% increase in production of the Lincoln hybrid 2014 model, which shares the same price as its non-hybrid twin.

Mazda Hybrids

While a Mazda3 hybrid has been announced, it will only be sold in the Japanese market. Mazda has no U.S. hybrid models for sale.

Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Hybrids

E400 hybrid – The latest Mercedes hybrid is now at dealerships. A V6, 3.5-L engine combined with electric motor achieves 329 total horsepower. Fuel efficiency is rated at 24/30 mpg and pricing starts at $56,700.

S400 hybrid – The Mercedes 2014 S-series sedan is receiving an update, including a redesigned exterior, technological upgrades, and enhanced safety features. No word on fuel efficiency or pricing, but the 2013 S400 hybrid started at $92,350 and got 19/25 mpg.

Porsche Hybrids

Cayenne S hybrid – The Cayenne SUV is due for a mid-cycle facelift in 2014, which includes technical updates, styling changes, and a plug-in hybrid trim. Expect the redesigned vehicle to debut as a 2015 model. The 2013-2014 model gets 22 highway mpg and sells for $66,800.

Panamera – The Panamera S hybrid has been discontinued for 2014 and replaced by a Panamera plug-in hybrid model.

Scion Hybrids

Scion officials indicated that a hybrid powertrain is a possibility for the FR-S mid-cycle update.

Courtesy of Subaru of America
Courtesy of Subaru of America

Subaru Hybrids

XV Crosstrek – Subaru is bringing its first hybrid to U.S. dealerships this fall: the 2014 XV Crosstrek. The hybrid SUV is rumored to get 10% better fuel economy than its gasoline-only model. No indication on pricing just yet.

Toyota Hybrids

Avalon hybrid – The Avalon hydrid line will be fully redesigned to incorporate a trendier, more sleek body. Technological upgrades are also incorporated. No indication if the powertrain will be upgraded, but the three 2013 hybrid trims get 40/39/40 and start at $35,555.

Camry hybrid – The 2014 Camry may be up for some mid-cycle updates such as color choices or minor performance/equipment changes as Toyota prepares for a 2015 model upgrade. The 2013 model gets 25/35 mpg and starts at $22,235.

Highlander hybrid – The Highlander SUV has been fully updated for 2014 although no prices or fuel efficiency ratings are available yet. In line with the Avalon, the Highlander’s exterior has lost some of its boxiness in favor of a sleeker look. Interior changes include alternative fabrics and increased interior legroom for the third row. No indication of pricing or fuel efficiency. The 2013 Highlander achieved 20/25 mpg and started at $29,020.

Prius – Details of the 2014—or possibly 2015—Prius model are sketchy, and conflicting at best, with some sources indicating little external change and others indicating a massive exterior redesign. More importantly, expect a 2015 hybrid powertrain upgrade that may reach up to 60 mpg combined. The 2013 model gets 51/48 and starts at $24,200.

Prius c – There is no definitive evidence that the city-oriented Prius c hatchback, which gets a slightly better 53/46 fuel efficiency rating than the Prius, will receive a facelift for 2014. The 2013 model starts at $19,080.

Prius v – Like the Prius, the largest Prius model could follow suit and get a 2015 facelift. The v models hatchback gets 44/40 mpg and starts at $26,650.

Volkswagen Hybrids

Jetta hybrid – The Jetta hybrid was released last year and therefore may get minor changes, if any. The 2013 sedan gets 42/48 mpg and starts at $24,995.

Toureg hybrid –The redesigned 2014 model is now available, but contains no anticipated powertrain changes. The 2014 model gets 24/28 mpg and packs 380 horsepower. It starts at $64,170.

Volvo Hybrids

Although Volvo offers a plug-in hybrid model, no future hybrids are planned.

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”

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”

2011 Lexus CT 200h Hybrid: Review Roundup

Lexus CT 200h Hybrid Reviews
photo courtesy of Lexus

Hybrids are becoming more common. With Toyota dominating the market, luxury brands have started to take notice. The CT 200h hatchback is Lexus’s most serious attempt to bring more sound engineering, fuel economy and luxury touches into the growing hybrid market. Let’s find out what’s being said about it.

 

MotorTrend – First Drive: 2011 Lexus CT 200h (October 2010)

If fuel economy is your thing, the CT 200h gets 42 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. Those figures are pretty close to the Prius.

MotorTrend calls the CT 200h “a far smoother and more comfortable car to drive than the Prius,” saying that “the CT 200h rides nicely over poor-quality pavement, and vibrations are nearly non-existent. Exterior noise is effectively dampened as well, though not the tire noise.” Continue reading “2011 Lexus CT 200h Hybrid: Review Roundup”

2011 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid SUV: Review Roundup

2011 Lexus RX 450h SUV review
photo courtesy of Lexus

The RX 450h is a luxury crossover hybrid SUV from Lexus. Other than the discontinuation of one of its options packages, it remains unchanged from 2010, so you’ll see reviews from both years. Let’s have a look at what people are saying.

 

Automobile Magazine – 2010 Lexus RX450h

Automobile says that the RX 450h “represents a careful evolution” of the hybrid crossover SUV, though they note that the trend for Lexus SUVs has been attention to performance over fuel efficiency. However, Automobile says that the newest 450h is making positive strides. It gets 28 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

The V-6 gas engine and electric motors combine for 295 hp, which Automobile says “makes the hybrid the most powerful RX and produces strong, seamless acceleration.” Continue reading “2011 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid SUV: Review Roundup”

2011 Lexus HS 250h Hybrid: Review Roundup

Lexus HS 250h Reviews
photo courtesy of Lexus

The Lexus HS 250h is a hybrid luxury compact sedan which many people have dubbed Lexus’s answer to the Prius. While it boasts a similar chassis shape and is in the Prius’s class, it is its own car. The 2011 model is unchanged from the 2010 model, so the reviews below cover both years. Let’s see what folks are saying about it.

Edmunds – 2011 Lexus HS 250h

Edmunds says that the HS 250h “truly deliver[s] admirable fuel economy numbers,” as well as “all of the luxury trappings you’d expect from a Lexus.”

The reviewer also says it offers “significantly better performance than a Prius.” Edmunds calls it “quick,” as it accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. The downside, they say, is that fuel economy is 35 MPG, which doesn’t touch Prius’s 50 MPG.

The drivetrain is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 that works in concert with two electric motor/generators, producing 187 horsepower. Edmunds assessment is that this car “won’t impress spirited drivers as much as frugal owners.” They add “Transitions between gasoline and electric propulsion are seamless and smooth, though throttle response is a bit leisurely.”   Continue reading “2011 Lexus HS 250h Hybrid: Review Roundup”

2011 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid: Review Roundup

Lexus GS 450h Hybrid Reviews
photo courtesy of Lexus

The GS 450h is a midsize luxury hybrid sedan. It’s remained largely unchanged since its debut in 2007. All of the reviews below, except for Edmunds, are for the 2010 model, which, minus some trim packages, is the same car as last year. Lexus says that its fourth generation of GS’s are on the horizon. Let’s see what people are saying about the GS 450h.

 Edmunds – 2011 Lexus GS 450h

The GS 450h has a 3.5-liter V6, which produces 292 horsepower. The electric motors turn that up to 340 hp. Edmunds says “With this kind of power on tap, it’s clear that this hybrid is geared more toward increasing performance than reducing fuel consumption.”

The EPA says the 450h gets 23 mpg highway and city. Edmunds says that it “seems like the smart choice between its gas-only powered brethren — at least until you consider the price.” The price is nearly $56,000. Continue reading “2011 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid: Review Roundup”

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. Continue reading “2011 Lexus LS 600h L Hybrid: Review Roundup”

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. Continue reading “2011 Chevy Volt Electric Hybrid: Review Roundup”

High Performance Electric Cars and Hybrid Vehicles 2011

Do you have a little extra to spend on your next car? Do you want something with a little “extra something” under the hood? What if that “extra something” is an electric or hybrid powertrain?

Hybrid and electric cars have caught on in a major way. Most major automakers are now offering hybrid options for select models and the technology is improving all the time. It’s now possible to find high-performance electric or hybrid sports cars and luxury sedans. If you’re in the market for a car like this, keep reading. Here’s a rundown about what’s rolling off the line for 2011.

High performance electric hybrid
The SSI 65 Coupe

Continue reading “High Performance Electric Cars and Hybrid Vehicles 2011”

2010 Hybrid Cars: Here’s the Lineup.

The number of hybrid cars keeps increasing, and while it is definitely a step in the right direction for emission reduction and fuel economy, the real importance of the hybrid car is in the evolution of transportation in general.

Technology, when it first comes out, isn’t always immediately cheaper than existing alternatives.  The Chevy Malibu Hybrid, for example, cost more to make than it sold for.  But putting these cars in the hands of real world people has helped manufacturers improve technology to the point where they are becoming financially beneficial, both to the manufacturer and the consumer.   Several companies have actual plug-in electrics just around the corner — possibly hitting the streets this year.

So, here is this year’s list of the major automobile manufacturer offerings for hybrid cars, trucks and SUVs.

ACURA:

Acura does not offer a hybrid model.

AUDI:

Although rumors of a Q5 hybrid have been circulating since 2008, it doesn’t appear that it will make it to the 2010 roster.

BMW:

From BMW USA:

“We will introduce two hybrids in Frankfurt, the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 and BMW ActiveHybrid X6.  They are the production version of our two first gas-electric passenger vehicles.

The ActiveHybrid X6 will be the most powerful hybrid in the world and the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is projected to be the fastest hybrid in the world and each

BMW Active Hybrid X6 Courtesy BMW
BMW Active Hybrid X6 Courtesy BMW

will feature between 15-20% increase in fuel efficiency.  The ActiveHybrid X6 is a “two mode” hybrid featuring full-electric operation up to 37mph for 1.6 miles and it goes on sale in December 2009.

BMW Active Hybrid 7 Courtesy BMW
BMW Active Hybrid 7 Courtesy BMW

The ActiveHybrid 7 is a “mild hybrid” and uses electric motors to boost the operation of a gasoline engine and recaptures energy in a lithium-ion battery and it goes on sale in Spring 2010.”

BUICK:

No Buick Hybrids for 2010

CADILLAC:

2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid courtesy General Motors
2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid courtesy General Motors

Cadillac will be selling the Escalade 2-Mode Hybrid SUV again this year, 21mpg city/22 hwy.  This is essentially a luxury version of the GMC  Yukon full size SUV, and as such the mileage is pretty respectable given the size.

CHEVROLET:

2010 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

In all of GM the only hybrid car they list for 2010 is the Malibu Hybrid, running their Ecotec 2.4L 4 cyl.  Don’t look for it on the showroom however, because it’s been dropped from the lineup due to lack of sales of the 2009 models.  However The Silverado 2-Mode Hybrid pickup, and the Tahoe 2-Mode hybrid SUV are still

2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

being produced, and we’re hopeful the Volt (GM’s new electric ) may make its debut  in 2010. The trucks feature a 6.0L V-8 engine now compatible with E85.

The Silverado and the Tahoe get 21mpg city/22 hwy.  Not terrible for a full size pickup or SUV by any means.

CHRYSLER, JEEP, and DODGE:

No hybrids this year for Chrysler brands.

FORD:

2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Courtesy Ford Motor Company
2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Courtesy Ford Motor Company

Ford offers the Escape hybrid, a compact crossover SUV,  Getting an impressive 31 mpg hwy, and 34 mpg city.  They also offer the Fusion hybrid, a midsize with an estimated 41 mpg city 36 hwy.

fsn10_pg_010_ext_med

GMC:

2010 GMC Sierra Hybrid
2010 GMC Sierra Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

The truck division of General Motors is producing  the Sierra pickup and the Yukon SUV in 2 mode hybrid form.  They both get 21mpg city/22 hwy.  Not terrible for a full size pickup or SUV by any means.  The trucks feature a 6.0L V-8

2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

engine now compatible with E85. GMC also offers a full size hybrid city bus.

HONDA:

From Honda:

“For the 2010 model year, Honda already has two hybrid vehicles on sale in the US, the Civic Hybrid and the all-new Insight.  Additionally, Honda has announced that an all-new sporty hybrid called the CR-Z will come to the US sometime in the calendar year 2010.  Details about that vehicle are limited at this time, but it will be based on the CR-Z concept vehicle that has been shown at several international auto shows in the past couple of years.“

The Civic hybrid gets an estimated 40 mpg city, and 53 mpg hwy and retails for $23,650.

The Honda Insight hybrid gets 40mpg city and 43 hwy, and starts at $19,800.

HYUNDAI:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

KIA:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

LEXUS:

Lexus 250h Courtesy Lexus
Lexus 250h Courtesy Lexus

Lexus, a division of Toyota, offers the RX450h Luxury utility vehicle with an estimated 32 mpg  city 28 mpg hwy, the LS 600h L luxury sedan , the  GS450h “Luxury Sport Sedan, and the HS250h at 34 city and

Lexus 450h Courtesy Lexus
Lexus 450h Courtesy Lexus

35 hwy and will be the first hybrid only luxury car.

LINCOLN:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

MAZDA:

Mazda offers the

Mazda Triubute Courtesy Mazda
Mazda Triubute Courtesy Mazda

Tribute Hybrid crossover SUV for 2010, getting an estimated 34 city and 31 hwy.

MERCEDES-BENZ:

Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid Courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid Courtesy Mercedes Benz

Mercedes offers the S400 hybrid, a large luxury car getting 19 city and 26 hwy.  Not great compared to some of the other cars here, but pretty respectable for a large luxury car.

MERCURY:

2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid courtesy Ford Motor Company
2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid courtesy Ford Motor Company

Mercury has the Mariner hybrid SUV getting 34 city 31 hwy, and the Milan Hybrid midsize getting 41 city and 36 hwy.

MITSUBISHI:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

NISSAN:

Nissan Leaf Electric Courtesy Nissan
Nissan Leaf Electric Courtesy Nissan

Nissan has the Altima Hybrid, at 21 mpg city 26 mpg hwy.  But the really exciting news from Nissan is the full electric Nissan Leaf.  Although it wont be available to the general public until around 2012 the Leaf will be sold to government agencies and corporate customers this year.  The leaf will have a range of around 100 miles on a single charge, and should be priced comparably with other family sedans.

PONTIAC:

The Pontiac brand has been discontinued.  Although the EPA lists a few Pontiacs for 2010, GM does not.

SUBARU:

SATURN:

Due to the tentative sale of Saturn no reliable information on what, if any, cars will bear the Saturn name.  Of the three cars that GM will produce under contract after the sale two were previously available as Hybrids, the Vue and the Aura.  The EPA lists specs for a Saturn Vue hybrid, at 25 city 32 hwy but it also lists other cars that have been canceled.

TOYOTA:

Toyota Prius Courtesy of Toyota
Toyota Prius Courtesy of Toyota

For Toyota, we have the Prius, of course, with an estimated 51 mpg city and 48 mpg hwy.  Also offered in hybrid is the larger Camry at 33 city, 34 hwy, and the Highlander midsized SUV.

VOLKSWAGEN:

Despite a lot of hype a year ago about a hybrid to be released in 2010, there is no word from Volkswagen on when it will come about.  Maybe 2011.

VOLVO:

Rumors and reports of a plug in Hybrid V70 wagon to be released by Volvo in 2010 have been circulating, but according to Volvo we are looking at 2012 before it’s a reality.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Courtesy of Toyota
Toyota Camry Hybrid Courtesy of Toyota

Still wonder what hybrid is for you? Car and driver did this showdown of 2010 famly hybrids.  They include the now-defunct Chevy.

If you would like more information about hybrids, Check out the following links:

http://www.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car.htm

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hybridtech.shtml

http://www.motortrend.com/new_cars/27/hybrid_cars/index.html

http://www.edmunds.com/green-cars/index.html

Green news is good news (mostly)


Photo courtesy of Ted Abbott at Flickr.com.

A lot of news about the environment lately has been good news – there are huge solar arrays being built, energy efficiency is improving by leaps and bounds, and more people are recycling today than even knew what recycling was 20 years ago. But, there’s some bad news on the environmental desk too.

For starters, the ailing economy is threatening to undermine recycling programs nationwide. Demand for commodities has fallen so quickly that we have a surplus of many raw materials, and those surplus materials are exerting negative price pressure on recycled ingredients. Don’t worry though – runaway inflation in the first quarter of 2009 should “solve” those problems.

A controversy is brewing in the world of organic food. Several large organic suppliers have been caught using unapproved farming techniques in their overseas operations, and the FDA is reviewing their certification. This is a little bit of a good news / bad news situation, because the problem was caught before harm was inflicted and it’s a sign that the internal reviews are working to catch abuse.

A lot of politicians are burning the midnight oil before their terms in office expire, and this means that some poorly crafted laws, rules, and regulations are on the way. One of the most worrisome developments is that the Endangered Species Act is being undermined by rule changes within the Fish and Wildlife Department. The department has assigned only 15 people to review more than 200,000 unique comments… that means a lot of comments are going to be brushed off and ignored, and that the rule changes will likely face a legal challenge.

Okay, now on to the good news.

With automakers begging Congress for a bailout, there’s a lot of attention focused on their business plans. Last year, they were offered a $25 Billion line of credit to develop fuel efficient cars, and these green strings have been cut from the older loan. Just to confuse things, the Big 3 are asking for another $34 Billion dollars to fund their operations, which really makes you wonder if they forgot about the treat they were already given. Now that the funds have been released for GM, Ford, and Chrysler to use at their discretion, there’s still a good chance that some of the money will be used to make fuel efficiency improvements. Consumer preferences have shifted towards improved mileage, but there’s no consensus about how green the cars of the future will be.

There are a lot of competing standards for determining the “greenest car” on the road. Some carmakers stress miles driven per gallon of fuel, while others focus on the grams of CO2 emitted per mile driven, or the amount of smog causing particulates that are released. These competing claims can be very confusing, and the confusion allows some car makers to greenwash their dirtier vehicles with misleading claims. Until recently, there hasn’t been a clear mechanism to weigh the eco-credentials of competing cars. Now though, the Environmental Protection Agency has created a new standard that combines air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The new SmartWay Certification Program, is designed to highlight best in class vehicles just as the EnergyStar rating system highlights efficient appliances. Honda was able to secure the first top rating for a vehicle – they earned Smartway Elite certification with their Honda Civic Hybrid and the Honda GX (a natural gas powered car). Hopefully, American car manufacturers are following close behind.

Cars are raising environmental awareness in other ways too. Daniel Bowman Simon and Casey Gustowarow are driving cross country to gather signatures for the White House Organic Farm petition. The bus was donated by Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry’s fame) and has a very unusual container garden built into the roof. If you see a strange bus that looks like it had a collision with another bus and kept driving, ask for Daniel or Casey.

To bring this post full circle, here’s some good news about recycling. If you still have any McCain, Obama, or other political signs sitting around from election 2008, don’t throw them out. Waste management experts have found a way to recycle corrugated plastic campaign signs!

Overview of 2009 model hybrid cars

Unless you have been living on Pluto for the past five years, you will know that hybrid cars are the biggest innovation in mainstream automotive development in the United States since the Model T Ford. A “hybrid” is a vehicle that has both an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors that operate (in unison and/or independently) to propel the vehicle.

Americans are migrating to hybrids in impressive numbers. In light of the economic slowdown, it is expected that purchases of 2009 hybrid cars will be brisk, even more so than in 2008. That’s good for commuters, the planet and the automakers that have gone the hybrid route.

Hybrids are the first mainstream move by the automotive companies to lessen the reliance of auto consumers on the old gas-driven varieties, which are high in harmful emissions and also represent a heavy reliance by the United States on foreign oil.

As the term suggests, a hybrid is a combination, a compromise. Hybrid cars seek to significantly increase the mileage potential and reduce the emissions of a gas-powered car while overcoming the shortcomings of an electric car.  To be useful to a significant proportion of users, cars must meet certain minimum requirements.
•    Go at least 300 miles before re-fueling
•    Be refueled quickly and easily
•    Keep up with the other traffic on the road
Sure, a gasoline car meets all these requirements but, as we all know, they produce a relatively large amount of pollution and get rather poor gas mileage. Electric cars are practically pollution-free, but they get only 50 to 100 miles between charges. Recharging (refueling) an electric car is a notoriously slow overnight process.

Enter the hybrid car. Automakers have succeeded in combining gas and electric elements in the same drivetrain to combine the benefits of both, and reduce the negatives of each type of locomotion.

Here is a round-up (in alphabetical order) of the 2009 model hybrid cars available in the United States. Take your pick!

Taking a look at these vehicles, it’s pretty clear why the Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry and Honda Civic hybrids are the most popular hybrid automobiles by far. It’s the gas mileage, stupid!

Many of the other hybrid manufacturers don’t seem to get it, and keep cranking out hybrid after hybrid with mediocre gas mileage. Is it any wonder that no one wants to buy a car that is more expensive and more technologically complex when it doesn’t even provide a substantial increase in gas mileage?

One last point. You’ll probably notice what seems like very low numbers for hybrids like the Chevy Tahoe. Increases from a very low number to something reasonable actually end up saving large amounts of gasoline overall though. Read why here.

CADILLAC

2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV

Some say the sheer size, features and options connected to the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid somewhat negates its gas/2 electric motor hybrid benefits. But that’s probably nit-picking. This is the only hybrid option on the market in the large luxury-SUV segment, so it definitely meets a need. 2008 sales proved it. This vehicle brings limited carbon footprint and fuel economy to the world of large Sports Utilities. It brags everything that opens and shuts, from Bluetooth to cup holder, and a lot of (pricey) optional extras too. The cabin is gorgeous, the ride dreamy, and it accommodates eight passengers easily. The 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is available in 2WD and 4WD.

Gas mileage: 2WD: 20 mpg City / 21 mpg Hwy, 4WD: Untested

Emissions: No data. You be the judge. This is a 5,900-pound SUV……

Cadillac webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

CHEVROLET

2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

Here is GM’s answer to the Toyota Prius, which leads the way in mid-size hybrid sedans.  Power in the Chevy Malibu hybrid is generated by the GM Hybrid Propulsion Electric System, combined with the ECOTEC 2.4L 4-cylinder hybrid engine. Critics say the mileage it gets is not much more than the gasoline version but auto buyers really like its styling and the fact that low emission reduce the carbon footprint. It’s affordable and at least now there is a hybrid Chevy sedan out there….even if Bluetooth doesn’t come as standard! GM has done a lot to make an attractive family/commuter car, and this translated into brisk sales in 2007/8, with further refinements in the 2009 edition. The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is an automatic, 4-speed FWD family car with with overdrive.

Gas mileage: 26 mpg City / 34 mpg Hwy

Emissions: PZEV

GM webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

This is a no-frills hybrid SUV (the frills come as optional extras and for those you will have to pay dearly). It’s a nicely styled 4-door vehicle with a comfortable interior seating eight. The Chevy Tahoe hybrid  powered by a 6.0L 8 cylinder gas/electric drivetrain, offering solid capability and efficiency. It’s a basic automatic 4 Speed with overdrive. You can get it in 4WD or 2WD. Chevy’s hybrid SUV has not exactly taken the market by storm, but at least Chev now has a hybrid SUV option.

Gas mileage: 21 mpg / 22 mpg
Emissions: No data

GM webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

CHRYSLER

2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid SUV

Fans are saying this Hemi-powered vehicle 5.7 liter SUV is an incredible vehicle with bundles of built-in features. Definitely a huge improvement on the 2008 model, they say. The new hybrid offers Hemi V8 power with V6-like fuel efficency. Unfortunately, all that hybrid hardware pushes the Aspen’s price up by $3,000 over the similarly equipped non-hybrid model. But the naysayers are saying that this is a rough diamond, that there are better, quicker HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) SUV’s out there with more for less……unless you need to tow a boat, in which case this is the perfect workhorse.

Mileage: 19 mpg / 20 mpg

Emissions: No data

Chrysler webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds


DODGE

2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid SUV

The 2009 Durango Hybrid is anything an SUV-lover wants it to be. It’s big on comfort and features,and delivered on the HEV promise. The two-mode system integrates a hybrid-electric drive system – which reduces fuel consumption dramatically when town driving – with the brute power of a 5.7L Hemi V8 for towing and highway driving. It’s a pretty-to-look-at, comfortable 4 door,  and fun to drive,  with the vehicle switching between electric motor and Hemi mode seamlessly. When you need the power (pulling a trailer, driving steep gradients, passing other cars) it’s there, and when you need to cruise and save fuel it switches over to the electric motor undetected. It gives a whole new meaning to “automatic”.

Mileage: 19 mpg / 20 mpg

Emissions:
No data

Dodge webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

FORD

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid SUV

Ford was the first to combine SUV flexibility with outstanding fuel economy and limited carbon footprint of a full hybrid. The Ford Escape Hybrid SUV meets the strick Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV II) and Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards. The Ford Escape Hybrid SUV is a 4 cylinder, 2.5 Liter automatic, CVT, available in 2WD and 4WD. It has a highly competitively-priced Base option (no frills) or a Limited option (with frills). There is terrific range of optional features available, ranging from Sirius Satellite radio to a voice-activated navigation system. Ford has really put itself out to set the benchmark against which toerh hybrid SUV makers should aspire.

Mileage: 34 mpg city / 31 mpg highway

Emissions:
No data

Ford webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

GMC

2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid SUV

An earthy-looki V8, 6.0 Liter Hybrid from GMC, available in RWD and 4WD. The GMC Yukon Hybrid SUV is not going to win any beauty competitions and it comes with quite a hefty price sticker too. But this is a powerful, no-nonsense machine without pretentions. It seats eight passengers and combines considerable fuel economy with the towing capacity of a traditional SUV. Please note thought that critics are saying folks would be better served by any of GM’s full-size crossovers that are nearly as efficient and much less pricey.

Mileage: 21 mpg City / 22 mpg Hwy

Emissions: No data

GMC webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

HONDA

2009 Honda Civic Hybrid Sedan

Here is Honda’s answer to the Toyota Prius, the leading commuter sedan on the US market today. It does not offer the lowest price in the range (far from it)  but the features are good and it really is an effective 1.3 Liter, 4 cylinder, FWD hybrid. The 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid employs a small gasoline engine assisted by an electric motor that can, under certain low-speed situations, become the car’s sole powerplant. It certainly delivers extremely frugal city and highway fuel economy compared to its gasoline counterpart, while producing minimal greenhouse emissions. Unlike the Toyota Prius, which assumes a functional but futuristic appearance, the Civic Hybrid closely mirrors the popular Civic Sedan, with only a couple of minor exterior and interior variations that differentiate the two cars.

Mileage: 40 mpg city / 45 mpg highway

Emissions: No data

Honda webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

LEXUS

2009 Lexus GS 450h
Lexus has done everything its power to bring luxury to the midsize hybrid sedan market. Motorists rave about the 2009 Lexus GS 450h, because they can forget they are in a hybrid. This model offers power, comfort and the knowledge that it is helping the environment to drive it. One minor anomaly is that it takes premium gas, but the positives evidently outweigh the negatives here. It’s a 4 door, RWD vehicle powered by a V6 motor (3.5 L). The hybrid delivers 292 HP. It is manufactured and assembled in Japan.

Mileage: 22 mpg city, 25 mpg hwy

Emissions: No data

Lexus webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

2009 Lexus LS 600h

Japan has done it with the 2009 Lexus LS 600h – produced a luxury hybrid that rides as well as the best comparable Beemers and Mercs. This is a step up on the other 2009 Lexus hybrid, namely the GS 450h, because it offers masses more power and an 8 speed gearbox with overdrive. Power is the watchword here, with V8, 5.0 L engine coming and standard. It costs a pretty penny, but then the value is extraordinary. This is my choice for a large car test drive in the hybrid market.

Mileage: 20 mpg city / 22 mpg highway

Emissions: No data

Lexus webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

MAZDA

2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid SUV

Mazda has put all its hybrid eggs into this neat SUV with four variations: Touring AWD and FWD, and Grand Touring AWD and FWD. In true Mazda style this appears to be reliable, decent vehicle with all the important specs. very practical and bound to make many folk happy. It has a competitive price tag and neutral good looks. It boasts a 2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid drivetrain and great color options in organic green, blue, gray and silver. Technically speaking, hybrid-wise, it is simple and innovative: The Tribute HEV, with the modified MZR gasoline engine, has been optimized to run on the Atkinson combustion cycle. The Atkinson cycle modifies the timing of the closing of the valves,  letting the engine realize more efficiency. At the time of writing the 2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid SUV had just had a limited launch in California — just 300 off the production line. Kelley Blue Book had not even listed it yet. The jury is still out on performance and impact, but this hybrid vehicle is undoubtedly long on great looks, specs and pedigree.

Mileage: 31 mpg city, 34 mpg hwy

Emissions: No Data

Mazda webpage

Edmunds

MERCURY

2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV
Mercury has made its mark with this vehicle in the crowded hybrid SUV market and has introduced a number of new features in 2009.  With an additional 24 hp, the 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid does an excellent impression of a lively conventionally powered compact SUV with superb gas mileage. The new braking system gets mixed reviews, as does the relatively ponderous handling capabilities. And it’s also a pricey hybrid SUV option. But no one can argue with Mercury fans who would not dream of getting any other hybrid SUV. The 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV is available in 4WD and 2WD.

Mileage: 34 mpg city, 31 mpg hwy

Emissions: No data

Mercury webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

NISSAN

2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid Sedan

Nissan has leapt into the market for midsize hybrid cars with this neat, well-priced vehicle that is short on frills but high on performance. The huge drawback of this car is that it is available in only eight states — those that have adopted California’s stringent emission standards.  The Nissan Altima hybrid is bound to sell well where it can be bought.  It’s not the most exquisite car around, but this 4WD car is perfect if you are a commuter who is serious about saving the planet, not spending a fortune on a runabout and yet you want spaciousness and power. The 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid Sedan features the 2.5L 4cyl gas/electric
hybrid CVT common to several vehicles in this hybrid class. Nissan opted to use Toyota’s hybrid technology for the Altima.

Mileage: 35 mpg city, 33 mpg hway

Emissions: No data

Nissan webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

SATURN

2009 Saturn Aura Hybrid Sedan

This is Saturn’s great-looking midsize hybrid car model, yielding good mileage from a optimal 4 cylinder, 2.4 Liter drivetrain. Saturn was late to enter the hybrid sedan market. At the time of writing Edmunds did not yet have specs available on the Aura, let alone a review, and availability was limited. The power plant is a  pretty standard GM type, with a 4 cylinder, 2.4 Liter power plant delivering 164 HP. But the attention to detail and Saturn’s distinctive emphasis on driver comfort and convenience makes this a real contender.The 2009 Saturn Aura Hybrid Sedan, with its reasonable price tag, is set to give popular midsize hybrids from Toyota, Chev, Honda  and Lexus a run for their money.

Mileage: 26 mpg City / 34 mpg Hwy

Emissions: No data

Saturn webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

2009 Saturn VUE Hybrid SUV
As is usual for the Saturn marque, GM includes nearly all options on the hybrid model including sunroof and leather seats. This is a super-looking car and a comfortable ride. It plugs right into the American SUV psyche and delivers on its promises. Power from the 2.4L 4 cylinder engine is fine for everyday driving and results in excellent gas mileage you would expect of a successful hybrid SUV. The agressive styling including 17″ chrome alloy rims and great lines. The styling inside is sharp too. It’s too soon to say (it was first launched in 2008) whether this model is going to capture a significant share of the hybrid SUV market.

Mileage: 25 mpg / 32 mpg

Emissions: No data

Saturn webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

TOYOTA

2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan

The 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid’s compelling duo of superior fuel economy and comfortable sedan attributes makes it a top choice for a midsize hybrid car.  This is arguably the most fuel-efficient family sedan available, with a roomy interior and stronger acceleration than most regular four-cylinder sedans. This is a successful hybrid configuration: FWD, 4 cylinder, 2.4 Liter, Automatic, CVT. The 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid sees no major changes from 2008 model. Beyond its powertrain and the eerie quiet that goes with its electric operation, the hybrid is virtually indistinguishable from a regular Camry. Actually the eerie quiet referred to here some drivers actually find disturbing. One does not expect a car to be dead silent at the traffic lights! But never fear, when quick acceleration is needed the Camry Hybrid delivers.

Mileage: 33 mpg city, 34 mpg hwy

Emissions: No data

Toyota webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

2009 Toyota Prius Hybrid

This is the hybrid that really put midsize hybrid sedans on the map. It’s new age, simple and fun to drive. Drivers just love the button start, called the Smart Key System. No fumbling for keys. Just walk up, get in, and drive off! It’s powered by a 110 HP motor, 4 cylinders, 1.5 Liters. The gas savings are incredible and the emission levels are low, low, low. There are Standard, Base (hatchbacks) and Touring versions for every pocket and persuasion. Toyota is planning to launch the “third generation” of Prius Hybrids soon. This is definitely my choice of midsize hybrids for a test drive.

Mileage: 48 mpg city, 45 mpg hwy

Emissions: No data

Toyota Prius webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

Just as Toyota defined the midsize hybrid sedan with the Prius, Toyota has pretty much sewn up the SUV hybrid market with the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. There are two version: Hybrid and Limited Hybrid versions depending on your power preferences. The 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV offers comfort (some are calling it a Camry in an SUV) and terrific mileage for a vehicle this size. Fans are also saying GM and Ford are light years behind Toyota Hybrid SUV technology. Powered by a   V6 engine, 3.3 Liter with automatic transmission and CVT, this is a 4W SUV that makes your mouth water. Like the Toyota Prius and Toyota Camry hybrids, this ride is quiet on the highway, handles flawlessly and has all the gadgets you could want. This is my top choice for a hybrid SUV test drive. I’ll have to hurry. These beauties are in demand….

Mileage: 27 mpg city / 25 mpg hwy

Emissions: No data

Toyota webpage

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

Some of our readers are critical of hybrids and prefer high mileage diesel cars instead. If that’s you, then don’t miss our 2009 Diesel Car Roundup.

Hybrid only parking – coming to a parking lot near you!



Photo courtesy of Jumbo Jack at Flickr.com.

Ikea, Home Depot, and the Green Exchange are just a few businesses that now offer preferred parking for hybrid owners. Apparently, IKEA’s Canadian stores offered hybrid only parking spots for more than a year… so it wont be long before we start seeing more and more of these spots in choice locations at the front of parking lots.

Hybrid cars not only use less fuel (and pay less fuel tax per mile driven) but they also get to ride in the HOV lane here in Dallas. Other cities offer free parking spots, discounts on city meters, or immunity from anti-congestion fees. All these incentives add up, and just might have something to do with the decline in sales for gas guzzlers.

Cynics have pointed out that many hybrid drivers get special treatment because they are often in the upper 5% income racket, but I’ve got a simple gauge for whether something is a good idea. If a certain course of action makes the mouthbreathers furious, then that’s a good policy.



Photo courtesy of Bob_2006 at Flickr.com.

Buying a used hybrid car? Watch out for hidden costs!


Photo courtesy of efusco at Flickr.com.

Hybrid cars make me drool. The idea of getting 50 miles per gallon instead of 25 is almost enough to make me run out and get one today. But, hybrid cars are expensive and there’s an environmental case to be made for getting the full life out of my current car before I go shopping for a new toy.

It’s tempting to try for the best of both worlds and shop around for a used hybrid car. But, we’re rapidly approaching a milestone in the age of hybrid cars. Battery packs from Priuses made in 2001 were only rated for 100,000 miles (what do you call more than one Prius, anyway? Priusi?). Assuming the previous user drove 12,000-15,000 per year, that means the cars are likely to have 100k or more on the odometer. So, a first generation Prius is likely to come with a geriatric battery.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. Used cars have all sorts of maintenance issues, and car buyers pay a discounted price because they know that costly repairs are a possibility. Battery packs break the mold because battery technology is complicated and hybrid battery packs are shockingly expensive. When these battery packs wear out, they can cost several thousand dollars to replace, and require expert technicians to do the work. From the Newsweek article:

Philip Card of Utica, N.Y., says a Toyota dealer wanted to charge him $3,900 to replace the battery on his 2001 Prius, which had 350,000 miles on it when he bought it used on eBay this year for $4,357.

So, here are a few things to bear in mind:
1) A huge aftermarket is developing for hybrid batteries from wrecked hybrids. If your Prius is totaled by hail damage or a fender bender with an SUV, don’t let a savvy scrap dealer take advantage of you by “taking the wreckage off your hands”.
2) The resale price of hybrids is falling in line with the resale price of the non-hybrid versions. Due to uncertainty over the value of hybrid batteries (and the cost of upcoming replacement), there may be some real deals out there if you can find hybrids with cosmetic wear but value under the hood.

So, Caveat Emptor! When shopping for a used hybrid, it might be a good idea to pay for a diagnostic evaluation of the battery pack. And, if you’re one of those Prius, Insight, or other hybrid drivers who I’m jealous of, here are a few rechargeable battery tips that you can use to get the most mileage from your battery pack before it needs replacing. One way to put these battery saving tips into practice is with a trickle charger that keeps the battery above 50% of charge without overheating it.


Photo courtesy of garyhymes at Flickr.com.

Honda to launch low cost hybrids, and a dedicated hybrid model in 2009?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Honda is moving forward with a new generation of hybrid cars that will hopefully have just a small price premium over regular cars. This would allow them to pay for themselves through gasoline savings much more quickly.

Honda’s goal is to sell 500,000 hybrids a year sometime after 2010. Still, that would fall short of Toyota’s target of selling one million hybrids annually sometime early in the next decade.

Honda says it will increase sales by introducing a lineup of hybrid vehicles, including a sport hybrid based on the CR-Z, a redesigned Civic Hybrid and a hybrid version of the fuel-efficient Fit subcompact. The key element of its new green strategy is to make hybrid vehicles more affordable.

“It is important to move hybrid vehicles from the current image-oriented stage to the new stage of full-scale penetration” of the market, Mr. Fukui said.

Mr. Fukui said that the new vehicle, which has yet to be named, will be affordable and that weight reduction, more compact components and new technologies will help increase fuel efficiency.

At present, hybrids cost significantly more than gas-engine vehicles. The Toyota Camry hybrid, for instance, costs $6,730 more than the gas-engine model, while Honda’s Civic hybrid is about $4,000 more than the gas model.

Honda’s first new vehicle will be sold only as a hybrid, as is the Toyota Prius. Honda expects to sell about 200,000 of these vehicles annually, half of those in the U.S. market. The car is based on the design of the FCX Clarity, the fuel-cell vehicle.

I am excited to see a direct competitor to the Prius. I can’t wait to see what Honda comes up with.