2007 Saturn Vue Green Line
The Vue Green Line offers the lowest price of any SUV we tested, and its system is configured to maximize value in small waysfor example, by cutting out and restarting the engine during traffic stops, eliminating gas wasted at idle. The Vue's electric motor isn't designed to propel the SUV on its own, so you won't see a significant mileage bump during low-speed city and commuter driving, as with full hybrids. But the vehicle still offers great highway fuel efficiency. That, combined with a roomy cargo hold, makes the Vue a good road-tripper. The Vue doesn't have a mileage calculator, but a green eco light comes on triumphantly when the car is meeting or exceeding EPA ratings, which are around 20 percent higher than with the gas-only Vue.
MSRP: $22,370 As tested: $22,995 Hybrid premium: $1,500 MPG: EPA, 27 city/32 highway; our average, 25 Decrease in annual greenhouse-gas emissions from comparable gas-only model: 11.1 percent Pros: Price, cargo capacity Cons: Mediocre city mileage, numb road feel
»CLEAN UP: THE BENEFITS OF DRIVING A HYBRID
These days, you can get more than a fuzzy feeling by going green. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal government enacted a system of tax credits for hybrid-car buyers, based on an automaker's quarterly sales. The full credit is $3,400 for buyersof IRS-approved vehicles, but the complex systemwhich only a bureaucrat could loveencourages early adopters. The amount of the tax benefit decreases if a manufacturer sells 60,000 hybrids in a calendar quarter, then gets progressively smaller in subsequent quarters before eventually being eliminated altogether. (Go to www.irs.gov or www.fueleconomy.gov for information on specific vehicles.) In addition, many states offer income-tax credits and sales-tax exemptions, companies like Google and Bank of America are offering incentives to hybrid-driving employees, and in some metro areas solo hybrid drivers can legally use the carpool lane.