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February 24, 2014

2014 Green SUV & CUV Buyer's Guide - Which Made Top 10?

2014-13 Earth Aware CUV/SUV Buyer's Guide written by Martha Hindes

2014 Green SUV & CUV Buyer's Guide
written by Martha Hindes

The year 2014 could  be a fantastic or frustrating one for hypermiling crossover vehicle fans —  those who specialize in wringing every possible bit of energy, and distance,  from a vehicle fuel source. A tantalizing group of cutting edge, fuel-starving  green SUVs and CUVs peeks out from the pages of glossy automotive magazines.  They leap off the fluid screens of internet blog sites. They highlight conversations  of tree hugging enthusiasts over their water filtering bottles as they travel,  with tender footsteps, across fields, ford streams, climb rocks and breathe in  the essence of the clean air they are determined to protect. Those futuristic  vehicles—that might have made the Jetsons green with envy—hint at the  extraordinary research, development, and cost, from car companies trying to  find new, previously unimaginable ways to cut the energy footprint of getting  from here to there.

Combined with the  promise of an ecologically sound means of transport, they seem to be the  perfect answer for an increasingly clogged environment that conservationists  avow desperately needs cleaner, less earth sullying vehicles. These trendy,  coveted and ultimately usable people haulers seem to have it all — the perfect  size and shape for a number of travel needs from hauling some goods to carrying  a small group of people to subbing as a mobile office or at times a service  vehicle, such as a green taxi.

[See Which Green Vehicles for 2014 Made the Top 10 List]

February 17, 2014

Toyota Corolla Wins 2014 Most Earth Aware Car of the Year

2014 Toyota Corolla Eco Wins 2014 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year - Most Earth Aware

Toyota Corolla Eco Named

2014 Earth, Wind & Power "Most Earth Aware Car of the Year"

Earth, Wind & Power Awards - Most Earth Friendly Car of the Year
sponsored by

Bridgestone Tire Sponsors 2013 International Car of the Year Awards - Presented by Road & Travel Magazine

Review by Martha Hindes | Press Release

As we watched a profusion of college students jog, skate, bicycle and schmooze their way past our Minneapolis hotel, we realized we were in for an education on what is important to those on the cusp of an environmentally challenging world. They were the kind, in their early 20s to maybe mid-30s it seemed, in plaid sneakers, cutoffs in cold weather and eyes glued to a smart phone screen. Just the type, we thought, who would be woed and won by a point-in-life auto like the resoundingly revised 2014 Toyota Corolla.   We had come to the largest of Minnesota's Twin Cities to find out why Toyota considered its revised compact car so important as the automaker kicked off the 11th generation of this staple. After all, the Corolla has dominated the world of compact autos in all corners of the globe for decades. It virtually launched the small car industry in the U.S. when seeming block-long domestic gas guzzlers dominated American roads. And it has spawned a wealth of imitators seeking to dethrone it from its lofty perch ever since. 

It didn't take long to realize that not only was the Corolla a breath of fresh air visually, but in driving credentials as well. But it also pointed out how the auto is aiding in preserving the fresh air we breathe and protecting our planet by diminishing the factors that add pollutants to the atmosphere. And its achievement of reaching a lofty 40 miles per gallon mileage with an internal combustion engine heart rather than with a highly sophisticated and costly hybrid, clean diesel or more elaborate technology tells us there really still is life in yesterday's engine type when it's tamed and tweaked to accommodate tomorrow’s vehicles.   With those gold star elements plus pricing that has not gone ballistic, it didn't take long to determine the 2014 Corolla was an uncompromising champion to be recognized. And so, it was name Earth, Wind & Power’s Most Earth Aware Car of the Year for 2014. 

2014 Toyota Corolla Named 2014 Most Earth Aware Car of the Year by Road & Travel Magazine
Presenting the 2014 Most Earth Aware Car of the Year award to Bill Fay, Group VP & GM Toyota Division U.S., are Courtney Caldwell, editor, Road & Travel Magazine; and Mike Martini, president Bridgestone OE Americas, and EWP award sponsor.

In accepting the award, Bill Fay, Group Vice President and General Manager - Toyota Division, cited the company's long-time commitment to good fuel economy. "For the past 47 years, Toyota has prioritized outstanding fuel economy for the Corolla.  It’s this attention to detail that has enabled our company to sell a record 40 million Corollas worldwide," he said.   “With the new, 11th generation Corolla, we’ve illustrated that 40 miles per gallon can be achieved through excellent design and engineering. We are truly humbled and appreciative that Corolla has been named the 2014 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year. This award validates the efforts of our team to make Corolla the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class.” [Full story]

February 10, 2014

2014 Audi Q5 Wins Most Earth Aware SUV of the Year

2014 Audi Q5 Diesel Named 6th Annual Earth, Wind & Power SUV of the Year - Most Earth Aware

2014 Audi Q5 Named

2014 Earth, Wind & Power's

~ Most Earth Aware - SUV of the Year ~

Earth, Wind & Power Awards - Most Earth Friendly Car of the Year

sponsored by

Bridgestone Tire Sponsors 2013 International Car of the Year Awards - Presented by Road & Travel Magazine

Review by Martha Hindes | Press Release

We were smitten at first sight of the sassy, sporty 2014 Audi turbo-diesel when it showed up at our doorstep. Our test model was Glacier White Metallic and sported a large "TDI" on each front door for a sophisticated, no-nonsense announcement of its capabilities. So much for not blowing one's own horn.

A flared front end with sultry headlamp "eyes," anchored by those famed four interlocking grille hoops sniffing down the road balances the trim tush in the rear and announces in no uncertain terms this is a coveted Audi.

For those who need to transport five in luxurious comfort, the Q5 could be an ideal choice. The priciest of the fuel conscious versions (which seems like a no-brainer) is the hybrid Q5 that uses a 2.0-liter 245-horsepower inline four engine paired with an electric motor for a combined 245-horsepower and 254-lb. ft. of torque. It clocks in with a $51,300 base price, earning EPA ratings of 24 city/30 highway miles.

Those high ticket items point out what every wannabe Audi owner certainly knows—that no matter how environmentally conscious one might be in choosing a vehicle, when you're paying premium prices you expect to get premium perks out of the deal.

So what can the Q5 offer in the way of amenities, both in driving manners and the way it strokes the owner on the upmarket side?

Once inside, besides keyless start, there's leather (luscious Milano leather when fitted with comfort seats), aluminum and all-natural walnut trim and a heated/cooled cup holder to ensure drinks are kept at optimal temperature. Driving at night is a kick even if the only reason is to see the glow of red from all those buttons and controls that jump to life when activated.

The hybrid version gets Audi's Bang & Olufsen 505-watt premium Sound System with 14 speakers as standard equipment. "Audi connect" can mate with as many as eight wireless devices at one time.


And the TDI gets something that's becoming a vanishing breed in many vehicles as precious interior space is diverted for heavy battery storage and a bit more cargo space. That's an actual compact space saver spare tire, designed for temporary use.

A Q5 biggie is "quattro" drive on all versions. That's Audi talk for its permanent all-wheel-drive system, and a clear indication this is a go almost anywhere vehicle when driving conditions get tough, such as during a Northern midwinter blizzard or blazing through pools of water on rain slicked roads. All Q5 power plants mate to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic for smooth, supple handling and a stingier need for fuel in the process.

We can attest to the punch the diesel fuel-drinking TDI can deliver when rubber meets the road. It rates at an even feistier 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds.

Mark Del Rosso, executive vice president and COO Audi America accepts Most Earth Aware SUV of the Year Award from Mike Martini, president Bridgestone OE America and Courtney Caldwell, editor in chief, Road & Travel Magazine
Presenting the 2014 Most Earth Aware SUV of the Year award to Mark Del Rosso, EVP & COO, Audi America, are Courtney Caldwell, editor, Road & Travel Magazine; and Mike Martini, president Bridgestone OE Americas, and EWP award sponsor.

Audi calls the Q5 "sporty and sophisticated, spacious and functional." We agree. Its green attributes and the strength of its Audi character were pointed out by Mark Del Rosso, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Audi of America. “In addition to its excellent fuel economy, the Audi Q5 combines the sportiness of a sedan with a variable interior and many practical solutions for everyday and recreational use. With 2013 year to date sales up 40.8% compared to 2012, it’s clear that consumers are continuing to respond positively to the Audi Q5’s sportiness and sophistication, spaciousness and functionality.”

“We are honored to accept the Earth, Wind & Power Award for Most Earth Aware SUV of the year, which recognizes the environmental friendliness and fuel economy of the Audi Q5.” said Del Rosso.

[Full story]

January 30, 2012

Ford Motor Company Wins Most Earth Friendly Automaker

2012 Earth Angel Award - Most Earth Friendly Automaker - Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company Receives
5th Annual EARTH ANGEL AWARD
as Most Earth Friendy Automaker

by Martha Hindes

Going green has become a way of life at Ford Motor Company. From company President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally to those who tend to company property and grounds, protecting the environment is a primary responsibility on a daily basis.

Those familiar with buildings near company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan can see some of that commitment first hand, where fields of air purifying flowers bloom during summer months and a nearby production facility wears a "green" roof of plants to help purify and recycle runoff water used there.

Ford was one of the earliest companies to recognize the need for an environmentally sustainable way of doing business and to begin that transformation to achieve it. That commitment has become reflected in every Ford facility, in the materials used in production and in the atmosphere it encourages throughout the company.

In the 12th annual Ford Sustainability Report Ford put out last June, it cited progress in improving fuel economy and safety and a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and water use among its sustainable operations.

"Since 2000, our manufacturing facilities worldwide have reduced overall energy use by 40 percent, decreased CO2 emissions by 49 percent and cut water use by 62 percent," said Mulally in presenting the report. Full story.

January 06, 2012

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year

2012 Range Rover Evoque Wins 2012 International Car of the Year from Road & Travel Magazine

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year

by Martha Hindes

Dwayne Duff said it best when he first got up close and personal with the 2012 Range Rover Evoque a few weeks ago. "Wow!" pretty much said it all. After examining the sweeping lines, the aggressive face, the black and red leather interior and handsome gauges, the Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan resident was well on the way to a decision. When he turns in his leased Cadillac SRX crossover next year, he'll be ready for Land Rover's dramatic new baby sport utility vehicle.

Duff's response to a first look at the Evoque in person, after scouring the internet for photos, wasn't unusual. As Road & Travel Magazine testers drove it around, we found it brought thumbs up gestures of approval, wide grins, women abandoning their shopping carts to get a closer look and even hoots of excitement. The Evoque isn't just another of those cookie cutter crossover vehicles. It's just smack down galvanizing.

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel MagazineIf fact the impact of this feisty newcomer is such an undeniable "gotcha" that a dozen ICOTY jurors found it so irresistible they named it Road & Travel Magazine's "International Truck of the Year" for 2012. And Kim McCullough, who is Brand Vice President of Land Rover, understands why people can't resist this all new small SUV that launches from Land Rover's traditional enthusiast base. "The breakthrough design and confident handling are undeniable and have led to a new generation of modern-day Land Rover enthusiasts," said McCullough, adding the coveted award is "a great way for the Land Rover brand to start off the New Year."

Courtney Caldwell, who founded the International Car of the Year Awards (ICOTY) that honor the passion, presence and emotional punch that new vehicles can bring couldn't agree more. As the awards' executive producer and Road & Travel Magazine Publisher, she knows how such an emotional connection can win an unmatched sense of loyalty from consumers that few products can claim. Full Story

January 04, 2012

2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide

Road & Travel Magazine presents its 2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide written by Martha Hindes

by Martha Hindes
Road & Travel Magazine Names Chevy Volt
Most Earth-Friendly Car of the Month

Deciding to drive green isn't an easy task. We can't simply go to a "green store" to swap out yesterday's wasteful wheels for an environmentally correct auto to replace it, since there's more than one remedy. In the past few years, hybrid vehicles that combine a small gasoline engine with a small electric motor have been gaining popularity as one earth-friendly solution. But it's not alone. How about clean diesels now just coming online that no longer belch dark clouds of sooty, smelly grit out of tail pipes? Or plug-in electrics on the horizon that never go near a gas pump and are just beginning to make a buzz.

Flexible fuel vehicles that can scarf down liquified plants or even moonshine to power them have been around for a decade or two. And research is continuing on other futuristic technologies such as fuel cells most people haven't yet heard about.

What's a buyer to do? To help answer that question, RTM has put together its 2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide with some of the various ecologically sensitive, fuel efficient vehicles you can buy today without mortgaging one's future in the process.

We choose the Chevy Volt from today's stable of contenders as our favorite for many reasons -- fuel economy, driving agility, security, interior space and style among them. And besides, it's so hot that dealers and buyers alike are falling all over themselves to get one. Full Guide - click here.

 

December 02, 2011

7 Automakers Collaborate to Standardize EV Charging

Automakers Unite on Harmonzied EV Fast Charging Solution

  • Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen agreed to support a harmonized single-port fast charging approach for use on electric vehicles in Europe and the United States

  • The system is a combined charging approach that integrates all charging scenarios into one vehicle inlet/charging connector and uses identical ways for the vehicle to communicate with the charging station

  • The seven auto manufacturers also agreed to use HomePlug GreenPHY as the communication protocol. This approach will facilitate integration of the electric vehicle into future smart grid applications 

  • Agreeing upon a single, harmonized DC fast charging system, we believe will help infrastructure planning, reduce vehicle complexity and improve the ownership experience for electric vehicle customers. Full story.

November 10, 2011

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Road Test Review

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Road Test Review - Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide

by Martha Hindes

It could remind one of its German-engineered Audi cousin with its haughty, European good looks. It cruises with authority at hyper highway speeds. It has elbow room to spare both in front and rear seating. And yet it falls into the earth-friendly, fuel-saving category thanks to its "clean diesel" technology. Score a big one for the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI.

My one-day driving encounter with the new, clean diesel VW Passat was briefer than I hoped for, but sufficiently long to recognize this was attention-getting technology at its best. A tour around metro Detroit's "Motown" country served as backdrop for some express road, country road and city street driving in Germanic style.

Style-wise the Passat isn't in-your-face. And unless you hear the muffled diesel purr that barely signals its underpinnings, you'd probably never realize it's an environmentally-responsible version of an iconoclastic Euro road cruiser, but designed for U.S. consumption.

The six-speed automatic on my test vehicle had manual mode when spontaneous upticks were desired. The overall feel of the drive was typical VW style, a bit weightier than one would expect from a compact, but not surprising considering the Passat's overall dimensions. Size wise, it gains a shade in passenger room for 2012. This is a true midsize auto, not the compact of electrified competitors. Full Review

November 09, 2011

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Road Test Review

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

In a landscape of automotive cacophony, sometimes it's the simple things that stand out most such as a steering wheel not over-laden with gadgets. Or, a cluster of instruments that say enough, but not too much. Putting the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid in that category clarifies what seems a rather fundamental, but well-determined strategy: Keep the driving experience what you'd expect from a handsome, easy-handling, well-appointed family sedan for five and let the high-tech core quietly do its job.

It isn't that Hyundai ignores this is a combined electric-gasoline powered auto that, during express cruising, can toggle into electric-only mode for spurts -- even at speeds of 74 mph. It just doesn't scream at you in the process. You get the hint of its advanced underpinnings when you hit the Start button on the uncluttered dash and a small cluster of leaves in the driver's center gauge peeks back, and then disappears. If you have a taste for technological toys and don't have the navi version, you can choose to display a real time energy score or a small scale diagram showing the power source (40-hp electric motor or 166-hp engine) flowing to the wheels.

A late summer test in the predecessor of the 2012 model hinted at what to expect during extended daily driving, with a stint on express roads and some inner city stop-and-go traffic. Road feel was solid and serene, only hinting at its hybrid foundation when coasting quietly on electricity alone, without the subtle purr of the 4-cylinder engine. Visually and mechanically, it gains from last year's major Sonata redesign, with fluid side sculpting and aggressive stance, and remains unchanged for 2012. "Blue Link" advanced telematics is standard, however. Full Review

November 07, 2011

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Road Test Review

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan Road Test Review - Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide

by Martha Hindes

Toyota's mainstay midsize Camry auto has about the same impact as some recent ubiquitous Macy's department store ads reminding us that just about everyone shops there. And if they haven't, they probably want to. Well, who hasn't heard of America's best selling Toyota Camry, even if the 2012 hybrid model promos haven't achieved quite the same saturation level?

The 2012 Camry Hybrid, like its earlier brethren, is based on Toyota's bread-and-butter family sedan in what's probably the hottest auto arena on the planet. That kind of competition means putting your best face forward. And Camry got some less-than-radical surgery in the design and hybrid engine technology categories for 2012 to keep it a bride instead of a bridesmaid as more hybrid competitors knock at the door.

While some fuel-stingy sedans have tightened the reins on size to cut weight and eke out a shred more mileage, Camry hasn't. Its midsize-for-five is comfortably so. And rear seat passengers can lounge during long drives without feeling crunched. Ditto that for usable trunk space, an improvement thanks to a shuffling of inner components below.

Dressing for the occasion also has won attention, with interior renovations enhancing the luxury feel, including brushed aluminum trim. A requisite power-flow display coaxes conservative driving. The upmarket XLE gets chrome touches, 17-inch rather than 16-inch wheels, and heated sideview mirrors, plus 24 additional pounds of curb weight that skims a shade off fuel economy. Options include blind spot warning, navi and Entune multimedia system. But the base LE is no slouch, with standard push button start, dual zone climate control and enhanced passive safety systems among amenities. Full Story