2012 Green SUV Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Picks
by Martha Hindes
Let's face it. Driving isn't a color blind activity any longer. Besides the reds, blues, silvers and blacks that adorn the exterior of that new set of wheels we're coveting, green is emerging as an earth-friendly hue worthy of equal consideration. “Green” cars generally spew out fewer toxic emissions. They get more miles from the power source that propels them. And their more "bang for the buck" capability often comes from a downsized footprint.
But wait. What if you have a family of six, or you regularly haul a boatload of gear, or you need to travel on roads less friendly to tiny, subcompact autos? Or maybe you simply like riding higher than the crowd for its good visibility, feeling of security and sense of freedom? The technological geniuses who bring us those super small, environmentally friendly road runners haven't been sitting on the sidelines. While it may sound like an oxymoron, there are such things as green sport utility vehicles or their crossover utility siblings already around, with more on the near horizon. (So much for the standing "gas guzzling behemoth" jokes that are a favorite of some ecologically sensitive folks.)
Automakers have been spending a lot of time making sure those who have a need for a bigger, more capable vehicle get some environmentally friendly choices as well. And the numbers are growing, from larger, tougher gas-electric hybrids, to green diesels, to vehicles that can run on alternative or flexible fuels made from plants or even from garbage.
Each technology has its own means of treading more softly on the environment and taking some of the sting out of the high cost of refueling, while boosting performance and capability in the process. We choose a few of the growing number of green SUV entrants to highlight in our Green Sport Utility Buyer's Guide that follows.