AAA releases guide on greenest hybrids


Though many people shop for cars by price and features, the interest in shopping for cars that are green is growing.

AAA sorted through 62 new vehicles to find the greenest.

"We had engineers and technicians testing the cars in our research center, a state-of-the-art emissions lab in Diamond Bar, as well as doing acceleration, braking, handling and noise level tests at Auto Club Speedway," said Steve Mazor, chief engineer at AAA.

After all the testing and calculating was done, the $42,000 Toyota Highlander Ltd. Hybrid 4WD came out on top, followed by the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, then three Lexus hybrids: the LS 600h L Sedan, the CT 200h Hybrid and the RX 450h.

The testing involved more than just emissions and gas mileage

"The kinds of things that consumers are interested in, not just regarding the environment, but with the goal of knowing if they can use that car for their everyday needs," Mazor said.

Lexus scored high in the tests, partly because they've had a pretty big head start on hybrids, which keep getting more popular.

"More people are coming on board because they're looking at the green aspect of it. They're looking for better economy, better performance, and I just want to be able to drive a hybrid and tell everybody that I'm just trying to be green," said Charles Hubbard, a Lexus spokesman.

One car that didn't score especially well is the new Chevrolet Volt. It's partly battery powered, but testers found flaws with it. It came in 12th place.

"The Volt has a small trunk, and amazingly enough, it's not as clean from the tailpipe as a lot of the other cars on the market," Mazor said.

It's easy to assume that all the cars in the AAA guide are expensive hybrids. But they've also got a secondary list of more affordable green cars. AAA looked at cost per green car. The winner in this respect was the Scion xD, which is fairly green for a price under $16,000.

The rest of the top five when cost is factored in were: the Mazda2 Touring, Honda Fit Sport, Chevrolet Cruze Eco and the Smart Passion Coupe version.

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