Toyota has the #1 Green Car According to Kelley Blue Book
Take a bow, Toyota Highlander hybrid and Prius. Kelley Blue Book (KBB), the globe’s leading automotive valuator, awarded the #9 and #1 spots to you on its esteemed “Top 10 Green Vehicles.” Surprised? No? Well, neither is anyone else.
Toyota has long been the poster child of the environmentalist movement. The Prius debuted worldwide in 2001 and created a stormy dust cloud that has yet to settle. After nine years on the market, the Prius claims over 1.6 million loyal owners. In 2005, the luxurious Lexus RX 400h hybrid and Toyota Highlander hybrid joined the lineup. A hybrid-electric version of the best-selling Toyota Camry soon followed. Toyota aims to offer hybrid versions of all its models and sell one million hybrids annually.
But hybrids were just the beginning. In 2002, Toyota teamed with California and presented two hydrogen vehicles ready for use on the up-and-coming Hydrogen Highway Network. The Ecology Center lauded Toyota for using organic materials in its plastics and using renewable energy to produce 15% of its resin components by 2010.
Faced with such achievements, KBB awarded Toyota two of its top ten “green” accolades. Criteria included fuel economy and CO2 emissions superior to the majority of vehicles in its class, safety, full amenities and a pleasant driving experience. KBB also chose the Prius for its optional state-of-the-art solar-powered ventilation systems, navigation systems and Advanced Technology package, and they appreciated the Highlander’s impressive economy and family-friendly features.
The Stars of the Show
Costing a base $21,000, the third-generation Toyota Prius sports a 1.8-liter, 134-hp inline four-cylinder hybrid-electric engine. New for this generation is an added three-part efficiency system: electric EV mode; moderately inefficient Power mode; and smooth, proficient Eco mode. Coupled with its mix of four and five stars for safety from NHTSA, its top reliability ranking from J.D. Power and Associates (excluding the 2009 – 2010 recalls) and its quirky styling, the Prius remains a perennial favorite.
The seven-passenger Toyota Highlander hybrid is a midsize crossover constructed from a car-based chassis. The Highlander hybrid uses a 3.3-liter, 208-hp V6 engine mated to a 167-hp electric motor and an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). With stellar crash-test ratings and a recall-unaffected reliability ranking of 4.5 stars from J.D. Power and Associates, the Highlander hybrid is an attractive purchase even without its striking 27/25 mpg.
Take a bow, Toyota. This act is over. But the show is just beginning.