Ford hybrids excel in environmentalist ratings

By Jerry Hirsch jacksonville.com Copyright 2011 The Florida Times-Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
July 29, 2011 – 09:17am

Toyota, Ford hybrids excel in environmentalist ratings

Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are producing the best hybrid vehicles, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In its annual review of vehicles that run on gasoline and electricity, the organization ranked the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrid as the top vehicles in the non-luxury segment of the market. The nonprofit group rated the Lincoln MKZ hybrid, built by Ford, and the Lexus CT 200h, a Toyota product, as the top luxury models.

The rankings are based on a combination of fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions and the number of “options” that buyers are forced to purchase when buying a hybrid, as opposed to how the standard gasoline model is sold.

“We are comparing each model to its conventional gasoline counterpart,” said Don Anair, an analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The hybrid MKZ gives you a huge boost on fuel economy. You go from 21 to 39 miles per gallon.”

The Prius, a dedicated hybrid model, was measured against the Toyota Matrix because they have similar engine size, performance and interior space, Anair said.

Among hybrid versions of SUVs, the Toyota Highlander, Lexus 450h and Cadillac Escalade received good marks.

Most hybrids get about a 40 percent emissions reduction, and some “automakers are using the technology to increase power over the conventional model rather than to achieve fuel savings,” Anair said.

Several automakers are working to make hybrid models more accessible for consumers. The top-selling hybrids now achieve 30 mpg or better, Anair said, and that should be a guideline for automakers who want to have success in the hybrid vehicle market.

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