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Old 10-08-2009, 04:14 AM   #1
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Default Five autos finalists for Green Car of the Year

The Green Car Journal has announced the five finalists for the Green Car of the Year.

The Audi A3 TDI, Honda Insight, Mercury Milan Hybrid, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Golf TDI are all in the running for the annual award presented at the Los Angeles Auto Show in December.

The vehicles are all new or redesigned for the 2010 model year and collectively represent the strongest showing of green vehicles to date.

"We're seeing the trend for 'green' cars emerging at all levels, from entry-level cars to luxury models, and even performance cars and SUVs/crossovers," Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal, said in a news release Wednesday.

"Plus, an array of technologies and fuels as well as strategies like lightweighting and reducing rolling resistance are being applied to the challenge. Greater choice provides buyers a personal stake in lessening environmental impact, and that's important."

Many carmakers have begun offering gas-electric hybrid cars in recent years as they attempt to provide green alternatives to traditional gasoline vehicles and boost their fleet fuel economy. Additionally, the success of the Toyota Prius, which has bolstered the company's green image, has left other carmakers struggling to catch up.

Ford Motor Co. introduced the 41-miles-per-gallon-in-the-city Fusion hybrid last year, its first gas-electric sedan, and followed that model this year with a sibling, the 2010 Mercury Milan hybrid, a more upscale sedan.

Honda Motor Co., which brought the first hybrid to the U.S., reintroduced the Insight earlier this year. The new Insight comes as four-door hatchback and achieves 40 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway with Honda's unique gas-electric hybrid configuration. The Insight is the only car in the group of finalists to have a starting price less than $20,000. The Prius, which enters its third generation this year, hits a combined 50 mpg and remains the gold standard for hybrid cars with its high mileage and iconic profile.

The 2009 VW Jetta TDI took home the Green Car of the Year honors last year, and it shouldn't be surprising to see two diesels back on the list of finalists. The 42 mpg highway Audi A3 is the only luxury car to make the list of finalists, and the VW Golf TDI will match the Audi's mileage figures, in part because it uses the same 2-liter turbocharged direct injection engine.

The winner will be announced Dec. 3 during the press days of the L.A. show. The show opens to the public on Dec. 4.
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