April 21, 2017 at 3:14 pm EST | by Joe Phillips
Going green in 2017 with snazzy new eco-rides
eco cars 2017

Ford Fusion Hybrid

With low gas prices and climate-change skeptics, you’d think hybrids and other green machines were on their way out. But at the tony New York Auto Show this month, automakers are showcasing more eco-friendly rides than ever. Here’s a sneak peek at three stunners I just drove.

FORD FUSION HYBRID
$26,000
Mpg: 43 city/41 highway
0-to-60 mph: 8.5 seconds

Toyota went all radical when it restyled the new Prius, the granddaddy of all hybrids. But Ford was much more subtle with the Fusion Hybrid, gently tweaking the grille, headlights and taillights. That’s a good thing, because this car’s Aston Martin vibe, especially the sleek front end and svelte side panels, is still fresh. Inside, there’s a user-friendly infotainment system, extra storage bins and a modish gearshift dial instead of a ho-hum gear stick. And the quiet cabin, upscale materials and 10-way power seats could easily be mistaken for a European sport sedan at twice the price. But there’s no such confusion when it comes to the so-so acceleration and cornering, though the Fusion still handles well for a midsize hybrid. It’s also more efficient than the previous model, though the battery pack cuts into trunk space. And it boasts plenty of safety gear including blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and brake assist with pedestrian detection. The adaptive cruise control now works in stop-and-go traffic. Coolest tech trick: the self-parking function, which takes control when navigating into a parallel or perpendicular parking space.

JAGUAR XE 20d AWD PRESTIGE

$46,000
Mpg: 30 city/40 highway
0-to-60 mph: 8.4 seconds

The Jaguar XE is one of the best luxury sedans of the year (at least my January car column says so). Now there’s a fuel-sipping diesel version, with a range of more than 600 miles. That’s perfect for long-haul drivers who pride themselves on few bathroom breaks. For shorter trips, the grippy tires and quick steering are a joy. So too is the suspension, which is firm but not punishing to the tush. Acceleration may seem a bit pokey compared with a BMW 3 Series, but the Jag feels a lot lighter. The cabin is simple and understated, which may not appeal to everyone. Neither will the cheap plastic trim, which luckily is used sparingly. But the latest tech and safety features are here: push-button start, heated steering wheel, automatic stop-start engine, headlight washers, power folding (and auto-dimming) side mirrors and much more. Two unexpected surprises: a high-quality stereo and trunk space that’s larger than much of the competition.

Jaguar XE 20d AWD Prestige

LEXUS NX 300h HYBRID

$41,000
Mpg: 33 city/30 highway
0-to-60 mph: 8.4 seconds

Call it the Jekyll-and-Hyde approach, but the Lexus NX hybrid has a split personality. The sexy styling is outre edgy, with sharp angles and a menacing grille. But the ride is much more traditional, with supple seats, smooth steering and average acceleration. Fuel-efficiency is best in class and crash scores are top-notch. But cargo space is limited, thanks to the battery pack. Rear-seat legroom, though, is surprisingly good. Another plus: all-wheel drive is now standard this year. And those triple-beam LED headlights are some of the brightest out there. For a luxe-laden compact crossover, it’s hard to beat the NX Hybrid. But for a more practical vehicle, the Toyota RAV4 has many of the same componentry — though not those come-hither looks — and costs $10,000 less.

Lexus NX 300h Hybrid

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