Despite all the green cars I saw on display at the North American International Auto Show, I came away convinced that if you want to buy a really eco-friendly vehicle, the highly fuel-efficient Prius and Honda Civic Hybrids are still your best bet.
Here are a few comparisons of gas-saving vehicles in case you're in the market for a car right now. Mileage estimates are taken from the federal www.fueleconomy.gov. (By the way, you can reduce exterior maintenance on your car by keeping it covered. Here are a variety of Honda car covers, courtesy of CarCovers.com.)
• Toyota Prius (left) – 48 mpg city/ 45 mpg hwy (some drivers report getting as much as 56 mpg on the hwy; some drivers report getting as "little" as 35 mpg in the city — which still outperforms most other models)
• Camry Hybrid Sedan 33 mpg city/ 34 mpg hwy (some drivers report getting as much as 42 mpg on the highway
• Toyota Corolla 28 mpg city/ 37 mpg hwy
• Toyota Yaris 29 mpg city/ 36 mpg hwy (manual transmission)
• Saturn Aura Hybrid Sedan 24 mpg city/ 32 mpg hwy
Mini Vans (still no gas-saving hybrids available; the companies are focusing their fuel-efficiency initiatives on sedans and SUVs)
• Dodge Caravan – 17 mpg city/ 24 mpg hwy
• Toyota Sienna – 16 mpg city /21 mpg hwy
SUV Hybrids (from an environmental point of view, there's no point in considering non-hybrid SUVs, all of which get less than 20 mpg, and many of which squeak by with a measley 10-15 mpg)
Compare any of these to the best-selling Ford F-150 FFV 4WD pick-up truck. This gas guzzler gets a paltry 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the hwy. And if you use the E-85 ethanol blend so many of the car makers are talking up, the fuel efficiency of the F-150 drops significantly: to 10 mpg in the city and 12 mpg hwy.
To compare other cars you may be considering, visit www.fueleconomy.gov.
To see the most fuel-efficient vehicles by class, visit http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/class-high.htm.
To take a peek at the new green cars you can consider buying in 2010, read the rundown at EcoGeeks.