Friday, November 9, 2007

21 Ways to Drive Green (Some Aren't Expensive)

Do you want to cut back on harmful emissions and get good fuel mileage while you drive? Here are 10 hybrid and 11 non-hybrid vehicles you can buy—new or used— to lower your impact on the environment and your gasoline bill. And some of them are quite affordable.

Top Green Vehicles -- Ten Hybrids Plus One

Let’s start with the ten planet-saving hybrids. These cars achieve the top scores for cleanliness and economy thanks to their gasoline/electric powertrains. All of these models achieve a 9 or 10 out of 10 on both of the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide scores: Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases. Fuel mileage ranges from 48 City/45 Highway for the top-rated Prius to 28 City/25 Highway for the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX.

This list includes an eleventh member, the Honda Civic GX, which burns compressed natural gas (CNG). Although it is not a hybrid, its excellent EPA Green Vehicle Guide scores (9/9) and fuel mileage of 26 City/31 Highway place it in this group.

The list is in order of fuel economy, with the best at the top. The years in which the vehicle was sold are shown. Please note that there are major differences in the size, functionality, and price of these cars. For example, the Prius is a midsized four-door hatchback, the Insight is a tiny two seater, and the Lexus RX 400h is an expensive luxury crossover.

1. Toyota Prius – 2001-08
2. Honda Insight – 2001-2006
3. Honda Civic – 2003-08
4. Nissan Altima – 2007-08
5. Ford Escape – 2005-08 (same as Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner)
6. Mazda Tribute – 2006, 2008
7. Mercury Mariner – 2006-2008
8. Toyota Camry – 2007-08
9. Toyota Highlander – 2006-08
10. Lexus RX 400h – 2006-08
11. Honda Civic CNG – 2001-08

Top Ten Non-Hybrid Vehicles to Save the Planet

Here is a list of 10 cars with excellent green credentials that, by eliminating the hybrid packaging, are less expensive, even when new. Most are compact or subcompact sedans, although the Nissan Altima is a midsized car. These vehicles all earned a 9 for the Air Pollution score in the EPA Green Vehicle Guide and a 9 or an 8 for Greenhouse Gases. Fuel economy ranges from 25 City/33 Highway to 22/32, just below the scores of the cars on the hybrid list. Again, entries are listed in order with the best fuel economy at the top.

Nissan Sentra – 2001-05
Hyundai Elantra – 2007-08
Ford Focus – 2006-08
Mazda3 – 2004-08
Honda Civic – 2006-08
Pontiac G5 – 2008 (same as Chevrolet Cobalt)
Chevrolet Cobalt – 2008
Kia Spectra – 2007-08
Saturn Ion – 2006-07
Nissan Altima – 2007-08

It Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune

You don’t have to spend a lot of green to go green. A 2008 Kia Spectra LX with manual transmission starts at just $13,520, including destination charges. Or, choose an older model of any of these cars and it can be a downright deal. For example, a 2003 Nissan Sentra XE with a five-speed manual, in excellent condition, has a retail value of $8,845 according to the Kelley Blue Book. Private sellers will probably charge less.

For complete information, go to the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide at

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