Here Come the Hybrids

Toyota Prius: The wheelbase of the second-generation Prius, which appeared in 2004, is stretched six inches, but the car still achieves a combined miles-per-gallon rating of 55 (probably 45 mpg in the real world). This is the runaway bestselling hybrid, with sales of more than 97,000 in 2006. The $21,725 Prius accelerates as well as a late-model Toyota Camry, and wins certification as a Super-Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV). It’s also an AT-PZEV, which means that, unlike most cars on the road that emit gasoline vapor (and thus global warming gas) when parked, it has zero evaporative emissions. Jason Mark of the Union of Concerned Scientists” Clean Vehicle Program describes the car as “a shining example of the gains possible with advanced technology.” Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is vocal about his Prius: “It’s a step in the right direction,” he says. “I fill it up at the gas pump and it performs like any other car. But I fill it up about once every three weeks.” The Prius is the benchmark by which all other hybrids are measured.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid: Like the Prius, the relatively new Camry hybrid actually runs on its batteries alone at low speeds. Under the hood is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that uses the Atkinson cycle for greater fuel efficiency. Add together the 147 horsepower gasoline engine and the 45-horsepower electric motor and there’s 192 horsepower. Faster and bigger than the Prius (though smaller in some interior dimensions), the Camry achieves 43/37 mpg. Like the Prius, the Camry is a relative bargain at $26,480, priced $5,000 less than the Honda Accord Hybrid.

Honda Civic Hybrid

Honda Civic Hybrid: The $22,150 Civic Hybrid, redesigned with a much more appealing body style in 2006, impresses with its sheer ordinariness. It’s not special, or weird, or for purists only. It’s just like any other Civic, except it’s an AT-PZEV, gets 49 miles per gallon (city) and 51 (highway), and has a range of 600 miles. If there’s a sacrifice, it’s in the $22,150 purchase price. But even that can be offset with federal income tax credits, as well as state incentives if they apply. To get 115 horsepower out of a 1.3-liter engine requires some wizardry. Under the hood is an Integrated Motor Assist system that uses its 20-horsepower electric motor mainly as a power booster, plus a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Honda hopes to sell 28,000 in 2007.

Honda Accord Hybrid

Honda Accord Hybrid: Introduced at the end of 2004, the V-6-powered Accord Hybrid was freshened for 2006, with more standard features (including a moonroof and a real spare tire). Fuel economy suffers a bit with the car’s additional 85 pounds; it’s now 25/34 mpg. The $30,990 Accord Hybrid, with 255 horsepower on tap, has been marketed more as a performance car (with a zero to 60 time of 6.9 seconds) than as an economy champ, but that emphasis hasn’t yielded the sales Honda had sought. Sales in 2006 were less than a fifth of the hybrid Civic.Ford Escape Hybrid: The $26,900 Escape wins kudos as the first hybrid SUV on the market, achieving 36 mpg (city) and 31 mpg (highway) with a system that is similar to that in the Prius. It’s not as luxurious as the Lexus RX-400h, or able to carry as many people as the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. But it’s a good first step from a company that says it wants to be an environmental leader but hasn’t been lately. Ford sold more than 15,571 Escape Hybrids in 2005, and in 2006 it averaged 1,500 a month (plus a smaller number of similar Mercury Mariner Hybrids).

Ford Escape Hybrid

Ford Escape Hybrid: The $26,900 Escape wins kudos as the first hybrid SUV on the market, achieving 36 mpg (city) and 31 mpg (highway) with a system that is similar to that in the Prius. It’s not as luxurious as the Lexus RX-400h, or able to carry as many people as the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. But it’s a good first step from a company that says it wants to be an environmental leader but hasn’t been lately. Ford sold more than 15,571 Escape Hybrids in 2005, and in 2006 it averaged 1,500 a month (plus a smaller number of similar Mercury Mariner Hybrids).

 

Animal Rights National Conference 2018