February 5, 2002
By Tiffany Campbell
It is no surprise that Honda's hybrid-electric Insight (below left) remains at the top of a "greenest" car list for the second consecutive year.
What is surprising is that 10 of the 12 highest-rated cars in the fifth edition of "Green Book: The Environmental guide to Cars and Trucks" can be filled at any gas station nationwide.
"Cleaner cars are much more available than even just three to four years ago," said James Kliesch, co-author of "Green Book." Just two years ago, according to "Green Book," half the vehicles listed required an alternative fuel. The guide is published by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and provides information on aspects of automotive environmental performance for every new car, pickup truck, minivan and SUV sold in the United States.
The Honda Insight (left) and Toyota Prius (right) illustrate we can dramatically reduce our use of fossile fuel. The vehicles incorporate revolutionary hybrid engines that utilize battery power along with traditional gas engines. The battery charges when the driver steps on the brakes.
Review of Cleanest and Meanest Vehicles Here
The ratings are based on evaluations of tailpipe emissions and fuel economy as well as the environmental impacts of manufacturing.
Runners-up include the natural gas powered Honda civic GX, the battery-powered Toyota RAV4 and the Toyota Prius hybrid.
Light trucks, a classification that includes minivans, pickups and SUVs, are some of the worst offenders for tailpipe emissions and fuel inefficiency.
Topping the "meanest vehicles for the environment for 2002" are the Dodge Ram Pickup 2500, the Chevrolet Suburban K2500 and the GMC Yukon XL K2500.
"Having a tool to see what cars are greener and to be able to compare them is important, especially since this information is not readily available," Kliesch said.
The book also lists the top gasoline-powered cars in each class as "greener choices."
hybrids in other classes
"These are cars available widely throughout the United States that are the best in their category," said Henry Griggs, media consultant for the ACEEE.
"Half of the people buying vehicles are buying light trucks, so we want to give them choices as well."
More trends for the future include hybrids branching out into other vehicle classes, Kliesch said, adding that Dodge will be coming out with a hybrid-fuel Durango SUV.
Another hybrid vehicle, Honda's Civic, is predicted to get about 50 mpg in city and highway driving. The Civic hybrid will be available in March or April.
"There are 200 million cars on the road now," Kliesch said. "It's important for environmental, national security and economic reasons to wean ourselves off our immense thirst for oil."