Folks often ask me, “what’s the ‘greenest’ car?” This is one of my favorite questions, because it can spur deeper conversation. Some people are shocked when I reply that the ‘greenest’ car is a recycled car. “Wait a minute,” comes the typical response, “a used car … for real?”
They often expect that I would answer with “oh, a (insert the most common name here) hybrid or an electric car (like the one that’s caught the tech world’s fancy that real world folks can’t afford).” Truth be told, 40 mile per gallon (MPG) cars are nothing new. You can find a ten or fifteen year old Honda Civic HX or Volkswagen TDI on eBay that will get 40 MPG on the highway. The older VW Jetta, Golf, Passat, and Beetle TDIs can even run on 100 domestic renewable biodiesel. Vintage Mercedes-Benz diesels can run on biodiesel as well, and they can all be converted to run on recycled fryer grease. There are great bargains to be found on fuel-efficient Saturns, too …
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me an old fryer-grease-powered Mercedes-Benz. All my friends slobber over Teslas, I must make amends …
Suffice to say, I don’t usually sit back, watch the press releases roll over the wire and shovel out posts. But when I saw that Honda was showing an integrated vacuum cleaner in the new 2014 Odyssey at a New York Auto Show media preview, I got a bit steamed. Not to suggest that they should have added a steamer as well (who wants to arrive at their destination covered in crumbs and wrinkles), but it all seems a bit supliferous, considering the shape we’re in (lay off the out of shape jokes, kids). It’s just hard to understand why Honda continues to withhold their excellent clean diesel engines from America, knowing that they could provide a thirty percent improvement in fuel economy.
MPG-o-Matic 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Review Summary:If you’ve ever dreamed of a fuel-efficient clean diesel convertible, those dreams just came true. The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI is the most fuel-efficient – and only diesel – ragtop offered for sale in the USA today. When equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, it delivers a driving experience unlike anything else on the road. The joy of heavy pedal rapid-fire 3000 RPM shifts coupled with light-footed fuel-stingy glides is positively splendid. While the back seat is tight and the styling is not everyone’s cup of tea, the Beetle TDI delivers competently.
There’s a common misconception among drivers that all hybrid vehicles are sluggish, unresponsive, and generally not fun to drive from a sporting perspective. While that may be historically true, the tide is changing. The latest crop of hybrids contains a bunch of cars with plenty of ‘get up and go’ to go along with that fuel-stingy technology.
When most people think of hybrid cars, the Toyota Prius is the first model that comes to mind. Introduced to America near the turn of the century, more than a million Prius have been sold in the United States. It’s hugely popular in California and among the environmentally conscious and spendthrifts alike.
Turbocharging is one of the best ways to make horsepower and torque without a negative impact on fuel economy. Our list of the most fuel-efficient turbocharged vehicles of 2012 is dominated by European manufacturers. With little surprise, the top spots go to the Volkswagen and Audi TDI turbo-diesels. The roomy Volkswagen Passat TDI leads the list at 31 city / 43 highway / 35 combined miles per gallon (MPG). You’ll find just one entry each for the American and Japanese manufacturers, with the Chevrolet Cruze ECO and Nissan Juke landing in the top ten. The spunky Fiat 500 Abarth earns a spot in the top ten, as well. On the other side of the coin, the Bugatti Veyron earns the Thirstiest Turbo of 2012 award with ratings of 8 city / 15 highway / 10 combined (not that it matters to the typical Veyron owner).