Fall 2009 Auto Guide
auto
New hybrid models enter marketplace

6. Lexus HS 250h

Starting price: $35,075
On sale: Late August 2009
Green technology: Gasoline-electric hybrid
EPA-estimated mpg: 35 city/34 highway

The Lexus HS 250h is the first dedicated hybrid car from a luxury make. That is, there's no conventionally powered twin. The driver can select four modes: power, normal, eco and EV, taking the driver from the least to most fuel-efficient driving. In EV mode, the car can be driven up to about 25 mph on battery power, but only for a couple of miles.


7. Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

Starting price: Not yet released
On sale: December 2009
Green technology: Gasoline-electric hybrid
EPA-estimated mpg: 21 city/24 highway

Like German rivals BMW and Porsche, the first Mercedes-Benz hybrid is a SUV, the Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid, due later this year. It gets 30 percent better fuel economy than a conventional model. That's still only 24 mpg highway, but that's good for a fairly large SUV, with a gasoline-electric powertrain that delivers 335 hp. The gasoline engine is a 3.5-liter V-6.


8. Tesla Roadster

Starting price: $109,000
On sale: Now
Green technology: Exclusively battery powered
Estimated miles per charge: 244

The Tesla Roadster, the industry's only battery-powered car, is for well-heeled early adopters. The six-figure sticker price reflects small sales volumes and high development costs. Tesla claims the roadster gets up to 244 miles on a full charge, which takes about 3.5 hours. The good news is blazing acceleration, 3.9 seconds from zero to 60 mph, plus exclusivity and a "green" aura.


9. Toyota Prius

Starting price: $21,750
On sale: Now
Green technology: Gasoline-electric hybrid
EPA-estimated mpg: 51 city/48 highway

The all-new 2010 Toyota Prius is Toyota's third-generation hybrid, while most other automakers are still on their first. Each generation has gotten better gas mileage than the previous one, even though the Toyota Prius has gradually gotten bigger and included more creature comforts. The newest Toyota Prius is the first car to achieve an EPA-estimated 50 mpg. The Lexus HS 250h uses similar technology.


10. Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI

Starting price: $23,870
On sale: Now
Green technology: Clean diesel
EPA-estimated mpg: 30 city/41 highway

Volkswagen says that with gas prices rising and diesel now the same price as regular gasoline, the diesel-powered VW Jetta SportWagen TDI is in short supply. The diesel version accounted for 81 percent of Jetta SportWagen sales in June, the company says. Diesel also accounted for 40 percent of sales for the Jetta sedan.

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