10 Environmentally Friendly Cars This Earth Day

10 Environmentally Friendly Cars This Earth Day

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If you’re in the market for a new or barely used car, perhaps you’ve been giving some thought to the number of environmentally sensitive passenger vehicles now on the market. With today being Earth Day, what better time to weigh your options with the good of the planet in the balance?

Find A Car That Suits You

roadRelax, I’m not about to chastise you into buying a car you really don’t want. Instead, through persuasion I’ll share with you a list of ten cars that are chart toppers when it comes to energy usage. Who knows, but maybe your next car will be one that I’ve mentioned.

The folks at Kelley Blue Book (KBB) have created a list of what they call “The Top 10 Green Cars of 2009” but it doesn’t include only the usual suspects. Yes, the Toyota Prius is the chart topper but so is a hybrid version of the Chevy Silverado, a truck with all the power, payload and towing capacity you’ll probably need.

The Top 10 Green Cars of 2009

To that end, I present to you KBB’s list:

2010 Toyota Prius

The third-generation Prius has arrived with sleeker looks, added creature comforts, upgraded performance and even-better fuel economy. Despite a larger engine, 24 additional horsepower and quicker acceleration, the new Prius manages to deliver four more miles per gallon than its predecessor. The coolest new option is a glass moonroof with a solar-powered ventilation system, but the list also includes voice-activated navigation and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Lane Keep Assist.

2010 Honda Insight

With a starting sticker price of $20,470, the all-new Honda Insight is the least expensive full-production hybrid available in the United States. Even the top-level Insight EX with Navigation that includes features like a voice-activated navigation system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, upgraded audio system and electronic stability control is just $23,770. These figures should give the Insight a clear price advantage compared to the newest Prius, for which pricing has yet to be announced. But why does Honda’s fuel-miser look so much like Toyota’s? Is it because the consumer thinks that’s what a hybrid looks like or for the same reason an Airbus looks so much like a Boeing?

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

The Ford Fusion is getting better with age, and perhaps the best addition is the hybrid version. For the 2010 model year, the lineup benefits from new exterior styling and an interior redesign, which grace the new hybrid version that handily out-economizes both the Toyota Camry Hybrid (33 city/34 hwy mpg) and the Chevy Malibu (26 city/34 hwy mpg). We were fans of the Fusion before, but even bigger believers after seeing and driving the latest iterations.

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI

In some circles, TDI is the sexiest acronym in all the automotosphere. Some months ago, Volkswagen’s familiar diesel moniker disappeared from the automaker’s top-selling Jetta, but it has made a triumphant return for the 2009 model year. This time, the Jetta TDI and Jetta Sportwagen TDI (and soon, Golf TDI) will be available in all 50 states, a development that surely helped the Jetta TDI take home the 2009 Green Car of the Year award. Returning fuel economy that’s roughly 40 percent better than its gas-powered counterpart, the Jetta Sportwagen TDI combines utility on par with a small SUV, world-class fuel economy and European driving dynamics in one well-rounded green machine.

2009 MINI Cooper

The MINI Cooper balances fun and efficiency like nothing else on the road. Responsive steering, a sport-tuned suspension and diminutive dimensions combine to deliver a driving experience that instantly evokes allusions to the proverbial go kart. Combine that kind of athleticism with highway fuel economy up to 37 miles per gallon – and a personality bigger than the car itself – and you’ve got a unique brand of feel-good fun.

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

We like compact crossovers for their smart mix of utility and efficiency, and the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient SUV in the country. After undergoing a major overhaul for the 2008 model year, the Ford Escape Hybrid is improved again for 2009 with smoother braking and electric-to-gas transitions, plus a one-mile-per-gallon improvement in highway fuel economy.

2009 Honda Fit

The Toyota Yaris remains the category’s mileage champ, but the Honda Fit so handily outshines its competitors in our eyes that it’s making the list again this year. We’re especially fond of the Sport model and its performance-tuned suspension and paddle shifters, but even base models are fun. If you’re more interested in pure practicality than driving pleasure, be sure to check out the Fit’s flexible back seat and impressive cargo-carrying abilities. The Honda Fit may be a little car, but it’s a lot of car.

2009 BMW 335d

BMW’s new diesel-powered 3 Series is one of those cars you really do have to drive to believe. First off, its zero-to-60 mph time of 6.0 seconds is only four tenths slower than that of the category’s gas-powered gold standard, BMW’s own 335i. For most buyers, that’s a small performance price to pay for an increase in fuel economy of about 35 percent (the 335i is rated at 17 city/26 highway mpg). Throw in all the driving feel and cornering ability that have made the 3 Series a living legend, and you’ve got the greatest diesel car America’s ever seen.

2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The Highlander Hybrid remains the most fuel-efficient three-row vehicle available today, earning it an automatic bid at the top of many families’ shopping lists. On top of room for seven and exceptional fuel economy, the Highlander Hybrid offers proven reliability and the added all-weather confidence of standard all-wheel drive.

2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid

If maximum fuel economy is your primary concern, then buying a pickup truck doesn’t make much sense. But what if you need the utility of a pickup truck? Shouldn’t you, too, be able to enjoy the benefits of modern hybrid technology? General Motors thinks so. That’s why GM’s Two-Mode hybrid system is now available in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Despite delivering up to a 50-percent improvement in city fuel economy, GM’s hybrid pickup retains its essential truckness by offering nearly 1,500 pounds of payload capacity, a 6,100-pound tow rating and a big full size bed. For those with more people to haul than cargo, the same gas-electric powertrain is available in the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV.

For more information on all of the 2009 Top 10 Green Cars, visit www.kbb.com/greencars09.

Photo Credit: Christophe Libert

Adv.– Are you considering the purchase of a house or a car during this recession? For consumers who have good or excellent credit, this may be the best time to jump in to the market. You’ll also want to make sure that your emergency income levels are consistent during these times as well as have a good food storage plan in place to keep those costs under control too.

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Categories: Autos Express

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".