Best Eco-friendly SUVs for the Summer

Ford Escape Hybrid photographed in College Par...

Some of the greatest things about the summer time are vacations, family and friends, and the sun. So now may be the best time to get an eco-friendly SUV that allows you to enjoy the summer. There are quite a few things to think about when buying an eco-friendly SUV that will fit your summer lifestyle.You may want to consider passenger room for traveling purposes. The 2011 Buick Enclave and the Chevy Traverse both have enough room for eight passengers. Although, many auto critics caution that the 3rd row is meant more for children. Both of these large SUVs get decent fuel economy even with all eight people in tow!Chevy Tahoe

Cargo room is especially important when packing for a summer vacation. Chevy seems to take the lead on this with the Tahoe or the Traverse. Both have well over 100 cubic feet of cargo space with the 2nd and 3rd rows folded down. As well as space to load all your gear, they both make our green SUV list.

If you enjoy hauling a boat or camping with a camper, you may be interested in an SUV that has high towing capacity and good gas mileage. The 2011 Chevy Tahoe has both. It gets around 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway while also having the ability to tow up to 6,000 lbs.

If you can deal with a smaller SUV but are really looking to save on gas when taking your trips for the year, your best bet is always the Ford Escape hybrid. It continues to be the best hybrid SUV for fuel economy, getting 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Even though it only holds five passengers it still has decent cargo space and of course, style.

2011 Chevy Traverse

Chevrolet Traverse... sooo roomy

Image by .imelda via Flickr

The 2011 Chevy Traverse continues to be a smart choice for SUV lovers who want decent fuel economy and the ability to have enough room for eight passengers. Many auto companies are adding more model features every year to entice SUV drivers but the Traverse goes another year with little changes.

The Traverse carries a 3.6-liter V6 engine under the hood that gives off 281 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. It does not have a V8 option but its V6 can carry up to eight passengers and has a towing capacity of over 5,000 lbs. For a large crossover, it’s fairly powerful and gets good reviews from current drivers.

2009-2010 Chevrolet Traverse LS photographed i...

Traverse

Its overall EPA estimates on fuel economy are 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway for the FWD. All-wheel drive gets 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. This may not seem like the great numbers that hybrid SUVs usually put up but the Traverse does beat other non-hybrid SUVs in its class such as the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander.

Other than a stylish exterior, the 2011 Traverse also has a stylish two-tone interior, climate control, and power windows. Options can include an entertainment system, navigation with rearview camera, and a power liftgate. Even more appealing is the cargo room, around 116 cubic feet with the second and third row down.

Some SUV drivers may be disappointed that Chevy has not enhanced the Traverse in a couple of years but this may actually be an advantage. The 2011 Traverse starts at $29,370 which could be out of budget. With little change, buying an older model may help you save on money but won’t leave you disappointed since you are virtually getting the same SUV. The Traverse may not be the most eco-friendly SUV choice but it does beat out some of the competition if you are in the market for a larger SUV.

2011 Lexus RX 450h

When you want luxury and you want an eco-friendly SUV, you’re most likely to end up with a Lexus RX hybrid. Lexus’ only hybrid SUV did not see too many changes for the 2011 model year but that’s because it is a high performance vehicle with green technology under the hood and excellent fuel economy. The only question on green driver’s minds; is it worth the large price tag?

English: RX 450h

Lexus RX 450H

The RX hybrid has a 3.5-liter, V6 engine combined with two additional electric motors. A third electric motor was added to help power the all-wheel drive model. This combined power produced around 295 horsepower. This SUV can drive short distances on the electric power alone at low speeds. After speeding up, the power shifts to the gasoline engine in a smooth transition that most drivers hardly notice.

The biggest reason to buy the hybrid RX versus its non-hybrid brother is the stats for fuel economy. The RX 450h gets 32 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the front-wheel drive and 30 mpg city and still 28 mpg highway for the all-wheel drive. With such little difference, it may be worth it to go ahead and get the AWD model. The non-hybrid RX 350 gets a low 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

The 2011 Lexus RX 450h also includes optional packages called the premium, comfort, or luxury package. With all the luxury Lexus provides, including standard 18-inch wheels, dimming mirrors, and keyless ignition it seems like a no brainer to purchase this hybrid SUV. Some critics still believe that the cost is not worth the extra mileage. The hybrid starts at $43,935 while the non-hybrid 350 starts at $38,375. Is the extra $5,000 worth it? Of course, this depends on how much you drive and the price of a tank of gas. Environmentally speaking, we say yes!

Touareg Hybrid Update

About a year ago, we told you about the 2011 VW Touareg hybrid SUV. At that time, this green SUV had not hit showrooms but its brother, the Touareg TDI was already out on the streets. Now the hybrid is cruising around, getting fairly good fuel economy, and getting great reviews for power.

To ensure plenty of power, Volkswagen has paired a 3.0-liter V6 with an electric motor that gets 46 horsepower and a nickel-metal hydride battery. Its total power, (with both motors) comes to 380 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque. Who knew VW could make such a powerful hybrid? VW has stated that the Touareg hybrid can go from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, making it one of the fastest autos to come from Volkswagen.

The Touareg also happens to be the only hybrid out from VW currently. There are rumors that a Jetta hybrid is in their future so maybe this is their test hybrid. The EPA reports that the Touareg hybrid gets 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. These are great numbers considering that this SUV can still tow up to 7,700 lbs. The downside is that the Touareg TDI can also pull the same weight and gets around 28 mpg on the highway. Although, the TDI does not boast the same power as its hybrid brother.

Since you still get great fuel economy and tremendous power the hybrid version of the Touareg may be the right choice. After all, the hybrid has just as much luxury as any other model. It comes with a media system similar to Ford’s MyTouch, complete with navigation and stats about the SUVs fuel usage and emissions. The front and back seats are individually heated, recline, and provide manual sun shades. Cargo room with all the seats is at 32 cubic feet. This hybrid is as luxurious as they come but not as cheap as they come. The 2011 VW Touareg hybrid starts at $60,565.

Fewer Incentives for Green SUVs

All 2010 tax returns should have been in by April 18, 2011 and for those of you who bought one of the few green SUVs that still got a tax credit; you should have some extra money coming to you. Tax credits for green vehicles are now a thing of the past, but many drivers are wondering if they will ever come back. This kind of incentive was helping to get more green autos on the road.

The legislation is now helping those who are interested in purchasing plug-in hybrids and electric cars. Some of these green vehicles will qualify for a federal credit up to $7,500 and possibly a $2,000 credit for the installation of the charging station. Some states are also jumping on these incentives and offering even more tax credits, such as California, that may offer up to $5,000. There are even proposals to allow the tax credit to become an instant rebate for green auto buyers.

This is great news for green car drivers but still doesn’t help those of us who love our hybrid and green SUVs. There are two ways for us to get some incentives back for buying a hybrid SUV. The first is to lobby our local representatives and state senators. An election is coming up so it may be a good time to voice the concerns about tax credits that have gone astray.

The second is to get some kind of incentive directly from the automakers. This may be a better deal since there are only so many write-offs we can have from the government. Getting a price cut immediately when buying a hybrid SUV may help us more in the long run.

A good example going on now (in some areas) is the Ford, Swap Your Ride Sales Event. Ford has a couple of their greener SUVs for a great monthly lease price if you qualify. Getting a direct deal may get you into a green SUV faster, as it doesn’t look good for SUV tax credits anytime soon.

Why Buy a Hybrid SUV in 2011?

Many SUV drivers may be reading about all the hybrid options there are today but thinking, why should I spend more money and buy a hybrid. It’s true, hybrid vehicles, especially SUVs are usually more expensive than the non-hybrid choice. But, this may be the year to purchase that hybrid SUV you’ve been eyeing and we have quite a few positive reasons to go for a greener choice.

Some people were not sure if hybrid technology was good or if it was going to last. The first hybrid SUV was introduced in 2004 and that was the Ford Escape hybrid, still one of the leaders in hybrid SUV choices. Now, seven years later, the electric engines and batteries have improved so there is no need to worry about whether the technology is going to stick around.

Money is a huge factor for hybrids since it tends to cost more green to become greener. The good news is that hybrid SUVs have been around for so long, drivers can now get used vehicles. A used Escape hybrid or used Mazda Tribute hybrid can still be a green option but costs quite a bit less than a brand new model.

We all know that gas prices fluctuate but it seems to be a trend in the spring and summer months that gas just keeps going up in price. Every year, gas sky rockets around this time and we all wish we had a hybrid. You never know about gas prices but it may be a safe bet that they are not coming down anytime soon.

The most important argument for buying a hybrid SUV is the reason why hybrids were created in the first place. Our environment is a precious thing and we continue to pollute it with gas and harmful emissions. A hybrid can be a great way to make an environmental contribution. So check out the latest models of hybrid SUVs right here at SUVLUV and you may find exactly what you’re looking for!

Last year for the Mariner Hybrid

Since Ford is phasing out the entire Mercury line, the 2011 model year will be the last for the eco-friendly Mercury Mariner hybrid. This hybrid SUV is similar to the Ford Escape hybrid but has a few distinct features. Its last year is no different as it continues to be one of the greenest and stylish SUVs on the market.

The Mariner hybrid has a unique grille and taillights that make it a bit different from the Ford Escape. Some auto reviewers say that this unique exterior gives it a bit more class than the Ford version. The interior is comfortable and stylish and it has over 66 cubic feet of cargo room. The Mariner is also up on technology with the Ford Sync voice-activated multi-media system with navigation. The 2011 model can also come with HD radio.

The good news is that the Mariner’s eco-friendly status goes unchanged for 2011. It still gets 34 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel drive model. The all-wheel drive gets 30/27, still not too shabby. The Mercury Mariner uses a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor. Together, the two engines allow for 177 horsepower. The 4WD model also comes with a second electric motor that powers the rear wheels.

Since the 2011 model does not come with many changes it may be wise to look for a slightly used 2010 model to knock off a bit on the price. Although, if you love the Mercury brand you may want the 2011 Mariner as it will be the last. This model is starting at $30,115 and goes up for the 4WD model. Its competitors include its cousin, the Ford Escape, the Chevy Equinox, and the Honda CR-V.