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Green Cars And SUVs
2009: What's New In Green Cars And SUVs By Alison Lakin, Associate Editor
2010 Honda Insight
With the word ‘green’ filtering through every marketing campaign, news story and water cooler chat session, there should be no doubt that automakers would be attacking the eco market with newfound gusto. For 2009, we see the growth of two major green vehicle categories: the steadfast hybrid, which has become increasingly popular in recent years, and the clean diesel, brought over by German manufacturers to give buyers a more robust and fuel-efficient drive. Here’s what’s new with these gas-sippers.
2010 Lexus RX450h
2009 Mercedes-Benz E320
The biggest news in the hybrid market is the reinvention of Honda’s Insight for the 2010 model year – available spring 2009. Despite it not being a full hybrid, meaning it will rely on gas for power at all times, it’s looking at 41 mpg combined. While nothing has been confirmed, Honda plans on pricing the familiarly styled four-door lower than the Toyota Prius – around $18,000 to start. Because of this, the Prius must remain close to its current MSRP of $22,000 to stay competitive. Toyota’s 2010 Prius will feature improved aerodynamics and a larger 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle engine to bring fuel economy up to 50 mpg combined. Body styling matches more closely with Toyota’s lineup, and the new model supplies a larger amount of interior space.
Not all of the new hybrids cater to the budget buyers. Lexus is planning to introduce their first dedicated hybrid platform in the HS250h. The luxury sedan will squeeze between the IS and ES models, featuring a hybrid system and an efficient 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle engine. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid has generated major buzz as the first production car to use lithium-ion batteries to help power the gas engine. With the new power source and a ‘mild’ hybrid setup, it’s looking to produce 30 mpg. The more powerful BMW 7-Series Hybrid and its two-mode hybrid system should easily compete with the S400. BMW claims the hybrid should improve mileage by 15 percent over the gas engine, even though the V-8 will deliver a devastating 407 horsepower. All of these models are arriving late 2009.
Some people need the space and functionality that an SUV provides, but that doesn’t mean they have to shun fuel economy. A successful pairing of its two-mode hybrid system and a 6.0-liter V-8 in the luxury-minded 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid allows it to get a surprising 20 mpg in the city. If you think you’d be better off with a smaller hybrid SUV (and lower price tag), consider the 2010 Lexus RX450h . The rig seats five instead of seven but averages 27 mpg with its 3.5-liter V-6 Atkinson-cycle engine and hybrid motor. The newly redesigned RX is fully stocked with techy bells and whistles too.
Hybrids aren’t the only ones in the game though, and 2009 brings with ...
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