Natural gas, hybrid models top 'green car' report
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With fuel efficiency for cars and trucks at a 20-year low, it may seem almost quaint to ask car shoppers to consider the environment. But the authors of the "Green Book : The Environmental Guide to Cars & Trucks" are hoping drivers will pay attention to factors such as gas mileage and tailpipe emissions.
The 2001 version of the book has scores and rankings for more than 1,000 new models.
Tied atop this year's list of the greenest are a Honda Civic GX that runs on compressed natural gas, and the Honda Insight, a so-called hybrid that runs on regular gas but generates electricity as you drive it. The third-place car also is a hybrid, the four-dour Toyota Prius.
Only one battery-powered vehicle cracked the top 10: the electric version of Toyota's Rav4.
Notably absent from this year's book is the electric vehicle that topped the rankings for three years in a row. General Motors' EV-1 is is no longer in production.
"At this stage, battery-powered electrics aren't there yet," said Jim Kliesch of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which publishes the Green Book.
For customers who don't necessarily want to buy a tiny vehicle but are looking for a gasoline-powered car that is relatively easy on the Earth, the Green Book features a wide selection in its Greener Choices section.
"Any category that you're interested in, you can buy green," Kliesch said. Greener picks include the Toyota Camry and RAV4 and even a full-size sport utility vehicle, the Toyota Highlander. Also preferred are the Saturn SW, the Ford Focus wagon, and the Chevy Impala. All meet standards for lower tailpipe emissions.
It used to be hard for buyers to find cleaner-running vehicles outside California and New England, but Kliesch says that is changing. "Model year 2001 has brought extensive nationwide sales of cars and trucks meeting the low emission vehicle standard," he said.
At the bottom of the rankings are big sport utility vehicles -- the GMC Sierra, Yukon Denali and Ford Excursion -- Ferrari's 550 Maranello sports car, and the four-wheel-drive version of the Dodge Ram Pickup 2500.
The Green Book is online at www.Greenercars.org.
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