Hybrids in the Automotive Mainstream

Find out what these environmentally friendly vehicles have in store for consumers.
By Alison Lakin
Environmentalists everywhere can breathe a huge sigh of relief - hybrids are here to stay. Even better, they're looking to take a sizable chunk out of the automotive market. This isn't just great news for the green crowd; this progression will benefit all of us, especially those who appreciate cleaner air and quieter streets.

Lexus LS600h
Lexus LS600h

Hybrids have evolved over the last 10 years, mainly due to technological advances and increased environmental awareness. More people are clamoring for options when their future is on the line.

Happily, no longer are you stuck with a compact car as the only choice for your hybrid. There's a continuously growing melange of hybrids for the consumer. The Toyota Prius, the best-selling hybrid on the market, is great if you want a distinctive-looking hybrid. It was only ever built for one purpose, making it unique in its field. If it's an SUV you're searching for, look no further than the Ford Escape Hybrid - with 4-wheel drive capability and up to 34 mpg.

Pay close attention to the numbers, though, and don’t be fooled by a car just because it’s called a hybrid. Certain models aren’t necessarily worthy of their namesake; the Chevrolet Malibu only nets a few extra mpgs with its hybrid model, but adds a hefty charge for the technology. 

Luxury has also been placed in the forefront, satisfying drivers who want their comfort with a side of hybrid and not the other way around. Lexus has released the LS 600h L, their flagship design, priced at $104,000. Not only does this beauty have 438 hp, but it also has the exquisite conveniences you would expect in a luxury automobile.

Lexus isn't the only one packing power in their hybrids; SUVs have been gaining in both horsepower and torque. While the lighter ones are also light in the power category, the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid has conjured up a massive 332 hp and 367 lb-ft of torque from its 6.0L V-8, a feat that actually surpasses the specs of the regular Tahoe. The new Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, a sibling of the Tahoe, shares the same powerful engine and hybrid system, but adds an element of luxury and more standard features to the setup.

As we at DriverSide would hope, the leaps and bounds of progress in the hybrid market aren't coincidental. 2008 represents an awareness of the environmentally friendly automobile. Automakers are clearly listening to the consumer's voice and making an obvious decision to follow its command.

To learn about all of the new 2009 green vehicles, read more.

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