March 20, 2014 | by Joe Phillips
Green machines
Prius V, autos, gay news, Washington Blade, green

Prius V

Looking for eco cred? There’s plenty in auto showrooms this spring: hybrids, plug-ins, electric vehicles, diesels, even traditional combustion engines with start-stop systems and other fuel-saving technology. Many are as fun as they are functional.

PRIUS V
$27,000
MPG: 44 city/40 highway
0-to-60 mph: 10.3 seconds

Eking out an impressive 55 mpg — or even more, depending on how you drive — the Prius sedan remains the most popular hybrid. Even Bradley Cooper drives one. Now there’s the larger Prius V wagon, which sacrifices a bit of fuel economy but offers 60 percent more cargo room. And this doesn’t include the two gloveboxes and huge center console. Like the sedan, the wagon is pokey but practical, with large dashboard controls, easy-to-use shift lever and standard rearview camera. There’s little sizzle here, thanks to the boxy exterior and acres of hard plastic trim. But there’s lots of tech gear: Bing search-engine functionality, Pandora radio and the latest info for weather, traffic and local fuel prices. And the panoramic moonroof with electric sunshades is a great touch.

VW Jetta Hybrid, autos, gay news, Washington Blade, green

VW Jetta Hybrid

VW JETTA HYBRID
$25,000
MPG: 42 city/48 highway
0-to-60 mph: 7.8 seconds

For a little less cash, there’s a lot more dash with the Jetta Hybrid, especially compared to the Prius V. The downside: there’s a third less cargo room. Still, hybrid drivers looking for a thrill will like the Jetta’s tight cornering, taut braking and strong turbo (this is one of the quickest hybrids out there). Along with a slick rear spoiler, there’s keyless entry/ignition, heated seats/mirrors and some savvy safety options — like a stolen-vehicle locator and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set limits for teenage drivers). While the five-inch nav display is tiny, it’s also one of the easiest to use.

BMW 328d xDrive
$37,000
MPG: 32 city/45 highway
0-to-60 mph: 6.8 seconds

BMW’s beloved 3 Series gets a diesel this year. The 328d is smoother and sportier than the Jetta Hybrid, though it also costs $12,000 more. Clean diesels are becoming more popular, and this one — with a 180-hp, four-cylinder turbo — is extremely fuel-efficient. There are gobs of glam amenities including a heated steering wheel and power liftgate as well as blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and even a driver drowsiness monitor. For racing aficionados, the macho “M Sport” package adds a firmer suspension, form-fitting seats and flashy 18-inch alloys.

Dodge Ram 2500 diesel, autos, gay news, Washington Blade, green

Dodge Ram 2500 diesel

DODGE RAM 2500 DIESEL
$31,000
MPG: 15 city/20 highway
0-to-60 mph: 8.4 seconds

Consumer Reports just named the Ram the best truck of the year and the diesel model is even better — with plenty of pick up for a pickup. Choice of either two- or four-door models, both with almost sedan-like handling. The plush, Lexus-like cabin has heated seats (front and back), Bluetooch, sunroof and large 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with 10-speaker stereo. There’s also a rearview camera and power-adjustable pedals to accommodate drivers of all sizes. Sure, gas mileage is far from a Prius. But when only a heavy-duty hauler will do, this is a good green option.

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