We all want to save the environment, or at least not burn too much gas. But some of us can’t exactly buy a tiny little car; we may need space to haul the kids, space to do our jobs, or space to haul stuff. So what are those in a bind supposed to do? Hope the price of gas drops?
Nope. If you look closely, even supposed gas guzzlers turn out to be surprisingly efficient.
The Greenest SUV: The Ford Escape Hybrid – If you need the space and hauling power of an SUV, but aren’t happy with the miserable mileage they usually get, it turns out your best friend is an American-made hybrid SUVs. Most hybrid SUVs only get slightly less terrible mileage; instead of pulling mpg in the mid to high teens, they tend to be in the low 20s.
Not the Escape Hybrid: it’s at 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. True, it may not rival the 50 mpg a Prius gets, but it still gets 11 miles more to the gallon in city driving and three more on the highway than the standard Escape…which is still, at 23/28, doing better than most SUVs in gas mileage.
Greenest Pickup Truck: Toyota Tacoma – Yep, the plain old, gas-power Toyota Tacoma is the greenest pickup you can buy. We know, we thought the GMC Sierra hybrid would do it, and it nearly did: the Sierra isn’t exactly a gas sipper at 20 city and 23 highway, but it’s doing well for pickup trucks, which tend to be gas burners.
The Tacoma, though, beats it by one mile city and two miles highway. So, it may not be as light on your wallet as a tiny electric car. But if you need to haul a lot of tools, it will do the job for a lot less gas than any other pickup out there.
Greenest Sports Car: The Lotus Elise – And finally, we’ve got sports cars. Fast, zippy, gas-guzzling sports cars with high auto insurance costs. And one of the most iconic is the Lotus Elise. Going from zero to 60 in six seconds, and a price that’s only low if you’re very rich, the widely famed Elise was one of the bestselling sports cars of the ’90s and continues to turn heads to this day. Which of course adds up to a conspicuous consumption of gasoline, getting a measly…46.6 miles to the gallon?! Wait just a minute here! What’s going on?
The short answer? Physics. The Elise is an incredibly light car, coming in at 1896 pounds before a rider gets in. That’s thanks to the aluminum chassis and the fiberglass body. Furthermore, the Elise is designed to be a racing car, so Lotus has spent the last 10 years carefully tweaking the aerodynamics of the Elise to reduce drag as much as possible. And finally, there’s what’s under the hood: the Elise has a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine. Obviously it’s zippy, but it’s hardly what you call a gas hog.
Light weight, low drag, and an overall efficient design means the Elise is a sports car you can drive like a demon…and still qualify as a tree-hugger.