Tag Archives: Gas Friendly SUV’s

The 2011 Highlander Hybrid Gets Greener

Toyota continues to advance their already green hybrid SUV by improving power and fuel economy. In the past, fuel economy was only a bit better than the gas-powered Highlander but now we are starting to see a real difference that may be worth the heavier price tag. This hybrid continues to be a good choice for families looking for a 3rd row seat and a trim exterior.

Power has improved so much that the hybrid is now beating out the non-hybrid models. The 2011 Highlander hybrid is AWD and has a 3.5-liter V6 under the hood that runs with two electric engines. The three combined engines allow for 280 horsepower, quite a difference from the 2010 model year. The gas-powered Highlander comes in behind at 270 horsepower.

Fuel economy is the best change for the 2011 hybrid model. It has jumped from 27 mpg in the city and 25 mpg in the highway to getting 28 mpg for both. The non-hybrid model gets 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. If you’re looking for a family vehicle the hybrids fuel economy surpasses minivans by far, even Toyotas own Sienna.

The exterior received a few changes for the 2011 year, such as a re-shaped hood. It also received a new grille and bumper to distinguish it as the hybrid model. The 17-inch alloy wheels are standard along with chrome accents. The interior has foldable 3rd row seating that allows for seven passengers. The hybrid model will also have an optional leather package and moon roof.

The 2011 Toyota Highlander hybrid starts at $37,290. The Limited model raises the price up to $43,000. With more miles per gallon and electric all-wheel drive, the extra money may be worth the hybrid version. The Highlander’s non-hybrid brother starts at $27,390.

The Scion xB

Most people are not sure if the boxy Scion xB is a car or an SUV. That’s because it looks like a crossover SUV but is sometimes categorized as a small car. It often gets compared to the Nissan Cube and the GMC Granite. Whether you call it an SUV or not, it can be a great green alternative to the larger fuel guzzling SUVs on the roads.

The exterior of the xB is what really gets people talking. It was one of the first boxy automobiles on the market. It set the trend for other vehicles like the Cube and the Kia Soul. The square exterior allows the Scion xB’s interior to have seating for five and plenty of cargo space. The xB has about 21 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up and 70 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. That’s more than some mid-sized SUVs.

The Scion xB has been around for a couple of years now but it is getting a few upgrades for the 2011 model year. The exterior is getting restyled but keeping the same boxy look, its signature trademark. The interior changes include a telescoping steering wheel, separate clock, upgraded upholstery, and a center console with sliding armrest. It is keeping its hip and cool style, still being geared towards a younger market.

The xB has been criticized by auto reviewers because it does not have the top fuel economy compared to others in its class. That doesn’t mean that it is not fuel efficient though. The Scion xB comes in at 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. No changes for the 2011 model year.

The xB’s 2.4 liter engine gets around 158 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. In performance testing it went from 0 to 60 in about 8.6 seconds, according to Edmunds.com. The funky Scion xB starts around $16,000 and moves up from there.

2011 Chevy Tahoe

The Chevy Tahoe and its hybrid brother have been out for years but both full size SUVs seem to be too good for change. The newest Tahoe isn’t going to see many changes but why change a good thing? The hybrid version of this SUV is of course, a greener choice but the non-hybrid Tahoe is not a bad alternative.

The 2011 Tahoe will have one engine choice. It is a 5.3 liter V8 that gets around 320 horsepower. The V8 goes from 0 to 60 in about 8.5 seconds. Not too bad for such a heavy load, its curb weight is over 5,600 lbs. Fuel economy stands the same as previous model years, coming in at 15 mpg city and 21 mpg on the highway. The 2011 Tahoe hybrid will get around 20 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

The non-hybrid Tahoe may not have the most impressive fuel stats but not only does it have to carry around its own weight, but it also pulls over 8,500 lbs. It also can seat up to nine people if needed or have over 108 cubic feet of cargo space. No wonder it can’t get better fuel economy. The hybrid version will still pull around 6,200 lbs and can seat eight passengers.

The 2011 Tahoe will still keep all the same safety features as well. This includes stability control, front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, and the OnStar system. The OnStar system is a safety package in itself. It assists in locked doors, emergency services, and roadside assistance.

The base model Tahoe starts at $37,570 for the non-hybrid. The hybrid version starts quite a bit higher at $50,735. It will definitely cost more green to get more green in return. Either way, Chevrolet offers a three year or 36,000 mile basic warranty and 100,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance.

BMW X1

BMW has announced that it will be producing the X1, a small crossover SUV that is a cousin of its 1-Series compact car. This will be the smallest BMW crossover utility vehicle yet. Europeans will be the first to get their hands on this eco-friendly SUV this fall, but Americans should see it sometime in late 2011.

It seems the BMW X1 will have a total of four engine options. One will be a 3.0-liter gasoline, six cylinder engine while the others will be 2.0-liter four cylinder diesels. Of course, Europe will be given all the options but North America BMW is still trying to make a decision on which X1s will be available in the United States. The gas powered version will be put out but it is still a maybe whether the diesel models will be a success in the U.S.

The X1 was tested on the European test cycle recently and it gained an eco-friendly status immediately. The diesel engines ranged from 37 to 45 miles per gallon. The power of these engines was as good as its fuel economy. The X1s horsepower ranged from 143 to 204. There have been no specific stats released for the gas powered model.

Luxury compact sport utility vehicles are becoming their own category of SUVs. The 2011 BMW X1 will go in the same class as the Acura RDX, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and the Audi Q5. It has been rumored that some other auto contenders are working on their own baby SUVs as well.

BMW has not released too many details at this point, including price. The auto company did confirm that the cost will be less than their BMW X3. The X3 is a larger SUV, which may be blown away by the new X1. Check back often as SUV LUV will keep you updated as BMW releases more information about this new green SUV.

2011 Ford Explorer Gets Greener

The Ford Explorer has never really made an eco-friendly SUV list…until now. Ford decided to make some significant changes for the 2011 model year. The Explorer will continue to be an affordable choice but has shed some weight causing the fuel economy to improve significantly.

This tough SUV has always been a heavyweight in the vehicle world but Ford has stated that the 2011 Explorer has dropped about 150 pounds. Instead of its truck-like framing, the Explorer has been given a unibody frame like most other crossover SUVs. Some of the old materials used to build this sport utility vehicle have been replaced with ones that are lighter in weight.

Since the Explorer has lost some weight it will get some of the best fuel stats in its class. Ford claims that fuel economy will be 30% better than the older model Explorers. This will turn out to be somewhere around 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. This is way better than the current 2010 Explorer which gets only 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg highway.

The new base engine for the Explorer will be a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost, which gets around 237 horsepower. For more power, there will be an optional 3.5-liter, V6 that gets around 290 horsepower. The V6 will of course not gain as much fuel economy but will still be up in numbers from the Explorer’s predecessors.

The powerful, yet green 2011 Explorer will still be able to tow 2,000 lbs with the base engine and up to 5,000 lbs with the V6. It will also come packed with technology including the Ford SYNC, a communication and technology system. Safety is also one of Ford’s concerns and the Explorer will have plenty of airbags, stability control, and curve control, a new feature for this SUV.

The all new redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer starts at $28,190 and goes up from there. There is no exact release date just yet but Ford’s website states that it is “coming this winter”. Meaning the Explorer should hit show rooms in late 2010.

2010/2011 Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V received some green upgrades for the 2010 model and the prediction is the 2011 model will continue on as the same. The CR-V is not on our hybrid list but it does continue to be one of the most eco-friendly SUVs in its class. It even got a little greener thanks to the changes Honda made in 2010.

The 2010 Honda CR-V ranked #1 out of 24 SUVs in the affordable compact SUV category, according to U.S. News Rankings & Reviews. This is due to its well-designed exterior and interior and it also gets top safety and performance scores. The CR-V’s high performance comes from its 2.4-liter, four cylinder engine that gives 180 horsepower and 161 lb-ft of torque. Standard transmission is five-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard but there is an all-wheel drive option.

The Honda CR-V continues to rank well in the area of safety. The 2010 model is complete with anti-lock brakes, front and side airbags, and stability control. A back-up camera is available as an add-on. This Honda received five stars, the highest score in government test crashes.

Since Honda made some major changes to the CR-V in 2010, it is expected that the 2011 model year will keep those changes. The best change was that the CR-Vs fuel economy got just a bit better. It currently gets 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The combined mpg is around 24 but the all-wheel drive model drops by one.

The Honda CR-V is a good SUV for the money as well. It is expected that the 2011 model will stay around $21,500 and get Honda’s 3 year or 36,000 mile warranty. This eco-friendly SUV may be one you have for a while as Honda still has the reputation of long-lasting vehicles.

2011 Ford Edge

The Ford Edge finally gets a well-deserved makeover for the 2011 model. Ford showed off the 2011 Edge at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. The new Edge has an updated exterior and technology as well as updates under the hood. The Edge’s critics may not have much to say this summer when the 2011 model is put in showrooms across the country.

For some drivers the Ford Edge is just too much like a box but that is all changed with the 2011 model. Ford has redone the hood, fenders, and grille, rounding it out to look a bit softer and giving it a few curves. The back got a few updates too, such as traditional red tail lights and a shapely back bumper.

The interior has updated technology and uses the MyFord vehicle interface system. MyFord is the newest Sync system using a LCD screen to control radio, phone, climate, tachometer, speedometer, etc. The new MyFord will use direct speech commands and the MyFord Touch will do the same and have a second LCD screen for even more options. The MyFord technology will be standard the MyFord Touch will be an added option. Other upgraded technology includes keyless entry and ignition, rain-sense wipers, and blind-spot mirrors.

There are new engine choices under the hood too. The new base engine is a 2.0 liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder with EcoBoost. The 3.5 liter V6 is still in place but got a few updates to increase horsepower. The EcoBoost updated 2.0 liter engine is where we will see the green we love. The current Edge gets 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Ford has not dropped any official numbers but it is expected that we will see a great increase in fuel economy, possibly as much as 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. That’s the green we need to make the Edge one of our favorite eco-friendly SUV crossovers.

2010 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid

BMW’s newest hybrid is the X6 ActiveHybrid which the company calls a “sport activity coupe”. This BMW is deemed a mix between a crossover SUV and a sports car. It is one of the only vehicles of its kind, a sleek shape and plenty of power. It may be a new concept but auto critics have been mixed in their recent reviews.

The goal of the BMW X6 ActiveHybrid is to be a “non-hybrid, hybrid”, meaning that it is a hybrid but does not drive like one. The X6 hybrid is the most powerful hybrid. It has a 400 horsepower; TwinPower turbocharged V8 alongside two electric motors under the hood. Total horsepower combined is a whopping 480. It contains very similar workings as General Motors two-mode system. The X6 also has regenerative brakes that create power with each use. Test drivers have stated that the power that this hybrid is boasting is true. The X6 goes from 0-60 in a little over 5 seconds. It has been getting good reviews for power and for a smooth ride that is more like a gasoline powered car than a hybrid.

The X6 ActiveHybrid is not getting the best reviews in some areas. For starters, even though the fuel economy is a great increase compared to other non-hybrid X6 models, it still comes in at a low 17 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. Not fantastic stats for a hybrid. The other large complaint is this hybrid’s cost. BMW is asking around $89,900. That’s right, almost $90,000 for just the base and this “sport activity coupe” only holds 4 passengers and has 60 cubic feet. Not the space an SUV driver is usually looking for.

Even with some negative reviews, this hybrid is still deemed as one of the most powerful hybrids to drive and the most fun. Check out your local BMW dealer, test drive the X6 ActiveHybrid and tell us what you think!

2009 Hybrid SUV Comparison (Full-Size)

Smaller SUVs, hybrid or not, are of course going to be greener and get better fuel economy but in some cases there is a need for a larger SUV.  Many SUV drivers need a large SUV for hauling purposes, whether that is people or a boat!  But just because you have to have a big SUV doesn’t mean you can’t still be eco-friendly and save a little on your fuel bills.  Here is a comparison chart for the top 5 larger hybrid SUVs of 2009 that presents the most useful information:  gas mileage, power, and price, and towing capacity.

2009 HybridSUV Fuel EconomyCity/Highway Gas/Electric Power Price (MSRP) Towing Capacity
Chevy Tahoe hybrid 21/22 Full hybrid ( 2-mode system) Electric up to 25mph $52,000 Up to 6,000 lbs
GMC Yukon Denali hybrid 21/22 Electric mode only up to 27 mph $58,235 Up to 6,200 lbs
Dodge Durango hybrid* 18/22 2-mode system & HEMI V8 $45,000 Around 6,000 lbs
Chrysler Aspen hybrid* 18/19 2-mode system & HEMI V8 $45,000 Around 6,000 lbs
Cadillac Escalade hybrid 20/21 Full hybrid up to 25 mph/ V8 $75,000 limited availability Up to 5,800

* The Dodge Durango hybrid and the Chrysler Aspen hybrid are now discontinued but still available while supplies last.

Each of these larger hybrid SUVs do not seem so green when looking at the stats but in comparison to the same SUVs in a non-hybrid model, they are actually much better on fuel economy and often times way better for the environment.  A mid-size SUV is going to get better gas mileage by far if there is not a need for a full-size SUV.  Check out the 2009 Hybrid Comparison chart for mid-size SUVs below.

Honda Hybrid Nowhere in Sight

Honda drivers are one of the most loyal car owners out there. And many of those drivers have been patiently awaiting some kind of announcement about Honda introducing a hybrid SUV but they just keep on waiting. As many of the other auto makers have been releasing electric and hybrid SUVs, Honda keeps all their eco-friendly news to their sedans such as the 2010 Civic Hybrid or the 2010 Insight Hybrid.

As for green Honda SUVs the 2010 CRV is leading the way with 28 mpg highway and its ultra- low-emissions vehicle (ULEV) status. But there is another Honda out there that deserves a little bit of credit. It’s the 2009 Honda Element. This SUV is considered car-like for the fact that is only seats four and maintains a boxy exterior. Its popularity comes from its versatility. The Element has 64 seating configurations, rear suicide doors, and a clamshell tailgate. It may not haul very many passengers but it can certainly be helpful in hauling other things.

The interior is cargo ready as well. The ’09 Element has urethane flooring for easy clean-up of sand or other particles. Anyone up for a beach trip? The rear seats can be folded or removed entirely for perfect surfboard storage.

The Element is also up to date on its interior technology. The EX or the sporty SC models also have optional voice-activated navigation, rear-camera, and USB digital media connectivity.

The 2009 Honda Element features an iVTEC 16-valve DOHC engine which provides reduced emissions and higher fuel economy. The Element gets around 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for the 2WD model. Of course, turning the Element into a hybrid could greatly increase these stats but no such news from Honda at this point.
The ’09 Element starts around $20,275 coming in at #7 for ‘affordable compact SUVs’ on the U.S. News & World Report rankings.