The 2008 North American Car/Truck of the Year winners were announced today, and one thing the designations show is that auto writers who voted in this year's best didn't give much weight to real-world realities like $100 a barrel oil and global warming.
The winners are chosen by 45 automotive journalists and were announced Sunday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. There are expected to be many green innovations rolled out at this year's show, but the mixed mileage performance of these winners shows that the state of North American automakers isn't uniformly green, by any stretch.
Though a winning car comes in a hybrid version, and one hybrid SUV was specifically chosen, not one of the cars or trucks lauded would help their manufacturers meet the new fuel economy standards that Congress and President Bush approved recently. Those will require automakers to achieve a 35 mpg average across their whole fleet by 2020. Each of these vehicles would drag the fleet's average in the wrong direction.
The Chevrolet Malibu (190 votes) comes in four versions, including a hybrid that gets 24 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. The estimated annual fuel cost is $1,665, and its annual greenhouse gas emissions is estimated at 6.8 tons per year*. But the six-cylinder, at the other end of Malibu's own private efficiency spectrum, gets just 17 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway, for an annual fuel cost of about $2,250 (not to mention 35% more greenhouse gas pollution than its hybrid counterpart).
The Cadillac CTS (165 votes) comes in six varieties, and the best barely achieves the what the worst Malibu does. The best version gets 18 mpg in cities, and 26 mpg on highways, for an estimated annual fuel cost of $2,142 and 8.7 tons of greenhouse gas pollution. The numbers for the CTS are 16/ 25 mpg, $2,367 in fuel costs, and 9.6 tons of pollution.
The Honda Accord (95 votes) gets, at best, 22 mpg in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway, for an estimated annual fuel cost of $1,800 and estimated annual greenhouse gas emissions of 7.3 tons. The Accord's least efficient version gets 17/25 mpg, costs $2,250 and spews out 9.2 tons of pollution.
The Mazda CX-9 (201 votes) gets, at best, 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, costs $2,502 per year in fuel, and spits out 10.2 tons of greenhouse gas pollution. At worst, it gets 15/21 mpg, costs $2,646 per year and pumps out 10.8 tons of pollution.
The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid (140 votes) two-wheel drive gets 21 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway, for a cost of $2,142 and 8.7 tons of greenhouse gas pollution. The numbers for the four-wheel drive are 20/20 mpg, $2,250 per year and 9.2 tons of pollution.
The Buick Enclave (109 votes) gets, at best, 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, at an average annual fuel cost of $2,367 and 9.6 tons of greenhouse gas pollution. At worst, it gets 16/22 mpg, at a cost of $2,502, and with 10.2 tons of pollution.
* The figures listed refer to Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy ratings listed on TheAutoChannel.com.
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