The time has arrived once again for the Green Car Journal to name its pick for the Green Car of the Year Award, and they’ve narrowed it down to five contenders for the coveted honor in 2012. Although each of these cars will receive recognition on the Journal’s top-five list, only one can be named the Green Car of the Year, and the winner will be announced at the upcoming L.A. Auto Show (during the press days) in November. What is notable about this year’s batch of environmentally sound cars is that they all have something of a different take on what being green is all about. So if you’re wondering just which cars are in the running, here’s the lineup of eco-friendly contenders and what makes them so special.
- Ford Focus Electric. This car is 100% gas- and emission- (not to mention guilt-) free. But it offers a lot more than the electric cars of years past. The regenerative braking has been optimized to provide drivers with the best possible “fuel” efficiency and a brake coach on the instrument panel will help teach drivers how to best use the braking capabilities. And it can go an estimated 100 miles on a single charge, which is a lot better than some of its competitors (the Nissan Leaf only has a range of about 70 miles). It also has some neat extras like the MyKey system (with programmable keys to limit the top speed of your teen drivers) as well as an app for your smart phone that syncs with the car to tell you how much juice you’ve got left.
- Honda Civic Natural Gas. If you’re not aware of the differences between natural gas and its petroleum-based counterpart, you’re not alone. But suffice it to say that compressed natural gas (CNG) burns a lot cleaner. In fact, it produces nearly zero emissions. And this Civic model boasts an estimated 38 mpg highway, which is pretty good by any standards. It also has eco-assist to help you maximize fuel, as well as a green “econ” button, which puts you into fuel-efficient econ mode.
- Mitsubishi i. This compact cutie will appeal to more than just teenage girls because it has a lot more going for it than looks. This thing charges on a standard 120V outlet and comes with a portable charging cable so that you can increase your range wherever you stop. You also have the option to install a 240V charger for faster results. Finally, you could equip your car with the ultra-efficient quick-charger port for public outlets (which can get you up to 80% in as little as half an hour). Although the Mitsubishi i only has a range of 62 miles on a full charge, the options for charging and the growing infrastructure of chargers could make it a great option for those that work close to home.
- Toyota Prius v. The plug-in hybrids are the way to go these days since they are eligible for government rebates (unlike old-school hybrids) and carpool exemptions and they offer additional options for charging. The Prius v can charge fully on an outlet, regain some charge from braking, and run on gas as a last resort, if your battery life runs out. It can only go 15 miles on a charge, but after that it gets 44 mpg highway, which is pretty fantastic.
- Volkswagen Passat TDI. Volkswagen seems to be pinning their future fuel efficiency on cleaner-burning diesel, and it seems to have paid off. This version of the popular Passat gets an estimated 43 mpg highway (as opposed to 28 and 31 mpg for the other models) without any loss of get-up-and-go. It also comes with add-ons like the integrated crash response system (ICRS) and the optional remote start feature.
Carol Montrose writes for Limo Transportation to Logan Airport which offers over 100 unique vehicles and superior service at affordable prices.