The 2014 RAV4 is a compact crossover that doesn’t waste a square inch of passenger or cargo room. It has surprising amounts of both in a body that has presence on the road without occupying too much of it. In addition to Toyota’s-brand quality and resale value, you get above-the-traffic ride height, comfortable seating for five, and just enough off-road capability to keep you out of trouble — or get you into it.
The 2014 Chevrolet Volt which uses a plug-in battery and gasoline engine technology to deliver a smooth, quiet and comfortable driving experience that will most likely get you to work and back without buying any gasoline, but then can take you across the USA – all while delivering in excess of 40 mpg.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency spends a good portion of its time and manpower compiling a guide that compares like vehicles’ fuel economy, spaciousness (interior space) and engine technology. The result for 2014 vehicles (cars and trucks) is now available on www.fueleconomy.gov and has a new benchmark – the Top 10 cars in fuel economy all feature a plug. Some are pure electrics and others are plug-in hybrids. The fuel economy numbers are astronomical by historical standards, but are setting the new benchmark for what a modern automobile needs to achieve to be considering a state-of-the-art environmental leader.
Plain and simple: I like this car. The Spark EV 2LT came with a surprising list of options such as ten airbags, a seven-inch color Driver Information Center (DIC) where you will find MyLink featuring SiriusXM, Bluetooth and hands-free smartphone integration. This car is quick, whether it is from a standing start or at speed when accelerating to pass, and that is in the regular drive mode. For more oomph you can press the Sport mode button that pumps out even more torque, but at the expense of battery charge and driving distance.
The XV Crosstrek’s modest base price fetches the utility of a small wagon with a roomy cabin and cargo area that offers practicality and easy drivability. And it will meet the needs of those who prioritize fuel economy over performance, contributing a small roll in saving the planet while exploring it.
Nissan may be the most honest car company out there today because you will actually hear them say that the 2013 Leaf may not be the right car for you. So if the Leaf isn’t for everyone, who is it for and are you one of those that should own one? This is where the fun begins because if your lifestyle and driving pattern falls within the Leaf’s sweet spot, then the answer is a resounding–YES!
Diesel and hybrid owners have very different reasons for owning each vehicle. After my back-to-back drives, I will suggest that anyone considering a Jetta hybrid for its environmental statement also add the diesel to your shopping list.
The hybrid gets better fuel economy, rides smoother, is quieter and fun to drive, especially when the Boost mode kicks-in. But the diesel engines of 2013 burn clean, are smoke-free, get very good fuel economy and offer a torque/acceleration experience found on more expensive cars.
So which to buy? You will have to run the numbers of an approximate $2,000 base price premium for the hybrid against the number of miles you drive and of course, your personal needs. If you drive mostly in the city or with significant freeway stop-and-go traffic, then making the hybrid investment may well be worth your while. If you do mostly open freeway driving, then the diesel will deliver mpg in the high 40 range, which is oh so great.
If you believe performance, luxury and fuel economy is an oxymoron, then you haven’t driven Infiniti’s 2013 M35h. The h is for hybrid… and horsepower. And it may be the first of many Infiniti hybrids.
Ford Escape is not the first compact crossover, but it has been a best seller over the last 13 years and leapfrogged the Honda CRV for 2013 compact-crossover sales leadership. There are a lot of reasons for its success and number one is fuel economy.
After a week with the ILX Hybrid, we swapped it for the ILX Premium—think of it as a more refined and luxurious Honda Civic Si that costs just $300 more than the Hybrid. At Clean Fleet Report we’re about hybrid cars, plug-in cars, pure electric cars and alternative fuel vehicles —mostly. We are also driving enthusiasts, and when the opportunity presents itself, we never say no to test driving a car that dishes out lots of Wahoos!
In a step back towards its roots, Acura, Honda’s luxury division, is once again offering a less-is-more entry luxury compact car. Slotted below the TSX, the 2013 Acura ILX is somewhat reminiscent of the 1986-2001 Integra, but outfitted with more luxury. This time around Honda’s entry-level car will come with some environmental credentials and therefore deserves a review in Clean Fleet Report.
Fuel economy is most certainly a contributing factor in the 2013 Honda CR-V’s 145,000-plus sales through June. Honda’s smallest sport utility (crossover, if you prefer, since it rides on a car-based platform) tops the elusive 30-mpg highway barrier, with 23 city/31 highway. The all-wheel drive versions are rated at 22/30.
The final decider between the Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf could be styling. For those who don’t want to show off their environmental leanings, the Focus EV is designed for the generic aisle of the dealership. Its styling is edgy, sporty, decidedly European and its green credentials are incognito. Tough choice, huh? But if you want to drive one of the sharpest-looking cars on the road while smiling to yourself because you have no personal connection to OPEC, the Focus Electric might be the EV for you.
The Fiat 500e is flat-out the most fun of the pack of electric cars that I have driven over the past two decades. It’s got the sportiness of the original EV1 with a hip Italian package.
Toyota’s 2013 RAV4 EV is the automaker’s second go round of converting its small gasoline powered sport utility to an electric vehicle. From 1997 to 2003, 1,484 RAV4 EVs were leased or sold. Of those, Toyota says approximately 449 are still on the road. This time around, rather than develop the electric RAV4 on its own, Toyota joined forces with upstart Silicon Valley electric carmaker Tesla Motors in a collaboration to develop and engineer the latest all-electric RAV4.