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Green Guide

There are many ways to be green these days. This category includes cars that get at least 40 mpg. But beyond fuel efficiency, this category includes alternative-fuel or electric vehicles and PLEV, ULEV, andZLEV category cars.

Lexus CT 200h

Year: Starting at $32,050 MPG 40-43 Lexus has a slew of hybrids in its fleet, and most unique of the bunch is the funky CT200h hatchback. Six grand less expensive than the next-cheapest Lexu-brid, the ES300h sedan, the CT200h blends Lexus luxury, value, and high fuel economy together in equal measure. While its overall rating of 42 miles per gallon is nowhere near that of Toyota’s iconic Prius, it represents a far more comfortable and sexy way to get your green on, with its nicely padded interior rendered in premium materials and the slew of available premium upgrades such as LED headlamps, radar-based cruise control, and an updated navigation system operated by Lexus’s innovative “Remote Touch” interface. Lexus calls the CT200h fun to drive, and for a hybrid, it kinda is, so long as your notion of “fun to drive” does not make acceleration a big priority. Even with the gas pedal pushed to the floor, getting up to highway speeds is a leisurely and noisy affair. The CT200h does have somewhat lively handling (again, for a hybrid), particularly with the tighter F-Sport package, which adds a snug suspension, sportier wheels, a mesh grille, metal pedals, and available black leather seats with white perforations. And the seats are decidedly sporty in the way they cup one’s bum. Still, the CT200h is for hybrid shoppers more interested in gaining access to Lexus-grade luxury and cachet than sportiness or hypermiling. …
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Lexus GS350

Year: Starting at $46,900 MPG 19-28 Lexus’ mid-size GS sedan has never made much of a spectacle of itself in the two decades or so that it’s been around, but consider its wallflower status a thing of the past now that the all-new 2013 GS has debuted. The first Lexus model to brandish the company’s bold new design language now spreading across the lineup, the GS conveys emotion from its spindle-shaped grille all the way to its shapely tush. And that tush, along with the nose, gets even shapelier when the new-for-2013 F-Sport model is selected. More conservative folks may want to stick to Premium and Luxury models. Regardless, no GS can be considered a penalty box by any stretch of the imagination, and the Luxury model in particular is as lavish as most full-size luxury cars, complete with reclining rear seats, window shades, and a dramatic caramel-and-black color scheme that you gotta see to believe. The aforementioned F-Sport model comes with a metal and leather-trimmed cabin and boasts numerous performance enhancements, too, while the hybrid model returns for 2013 with a combined fuel economy rating of 31 mpg (versus 23 for the standard GS350). Like most Lexuses, the 2013 GS features an available infotainment system with the company’s Remote Touch interface that allows even more technology to be bundled into an already highly advanced—and highly satisfying—package. …
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Lexus RX350

Year: Starting at $39,310 MPG 18-24 Luxury crossovers have been all the rage for years now, and none has been found in as many manicured driveways and portes cochères as Lexus’ RX. As a crossover and not a trucky SUV, and with only two rows of seats and not three (like Lexus’s other two luxury utes), the RX is spacious but not excessive, capable but not corpulent, comfortable but not conspicuously consumptive. In other words, for most moderately well-to-do households with a kid or two and a dog, it is just right. Now in the middle of its product cycle, Lexus has seen fit to give its popular RX a thorough face-lift, blessing the mug with the company’s new hourglass-shaped grille and LED daytime running lamp spears, complimented by new taillamps and tailgate details. The interior is slightly upgraded with some new color and trim choices and added technology such as Bluetooth connectivity and Lexus’s new Enform suite of in-car apps, including Pandora, Bing, Facebook, and more. With driving dynamics about as benign as your great aunt Matilda, the RX has never been too exciting to drive, though a new-for-2013 F-Sport model livens things up with its tightened suspension and paddle-shifted eight-speed transmission. And of course, the hybrid RX model (which, as Lexus proudly reminds us, was the industry’s first hybrid SUV) receives the same styling and interior enhancements as the standard model with considerably better fuel economy (30 mpg versus 21 mpg combined), albeit at a steep $6,600 premium. At least a laundry list of safety features come standard on all, most notably ten air bags, including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. …
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Chevrolet Malibu

Year: Starting at $21,995 MPG 22-34 Chevrolet completely redid the Malibu for 2013, giving it a more modern appearance, widening it for more interior room and trunk space, and going with the ecological flow by offering it as a hybrid. This mid-size sedan is available either as a four-cylinder/electric hybrid or with a standard or turbocharged four-cylinder engine, all of which are paired with a fuel-friendly six-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid version, called the Malibu Eco, has General Motors’ eAssist lithium-ion battery setup, giving the sedan a 37-mpg highway fuel economy rating. That’s impressive, but not the best you can do in today’s eco-competitive marketplace. The Eco model has been dressed up with metallic, chrome, or wood accents in the cockpit, plus ice blue ambient lighting and—surprise—a swiveling radio face that hides a six-inch-deep secret storage compartment. Chevrolet calls this “the quietest Chevrolet in history,” asking you to notice its use of sound-reducing and sound-absorbing materials inside the Malibu. While you’re enjoying the quiet, note the trendy dual cockpit and the presence of the Chevrolet MyLink information and entertainment system, standard on the Eco model. Even General Motors admits that the mid-size sedan segment is “vanilla,” but the company has worked hard to position the Malibu, now in its eighth generation, as a modern contender. …
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