Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), information provider for new and used cars, named its 2009 picks for the Top 10 Green Cars. This year's arrivals include an all-new Toyota Prius that is even more fuel-efficient than its world-beating predecessor, a Honda Insight and a range of new 50-state clean-diesel cars, among others. Times wires
2010 Toyota Prius (MPG: 51 city/48 highway/50 combined): The third-generation Prius has sleeker looks, added creature comforts, upgraded performance and even-better fuel economy. Despite a larger engine, 24 additional horsepower and quicker acceleration, the new Prius delivers 4 more miles per gallon than its predecessor. Coolest new options include a glass moonroof with a solar-powered ventilation system, voice-activated navigation and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Lane Keep Assist.
2010 Honda Insight (40/43/41): With a starting sticker price of $20,470, the Honda Insight is the least expensive full-production hybrid available in the United States. Even the top-level Insight EX with Navigation that includes features like a voice-activated navigation system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, upgraded audio system and electronic stability control is just $23,770. These figures should give the Insight a clear price advantage compared to the newest Prius, for which pricing has yet to be announced.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid (41/36/39): The Ford Fusion is getting better with age, and perhaps the best addition is the hybrid version. For the 2010 model year, the lineup benefits from new exterior styling and an interior redesign, which grace the new hybrid version that handily out-economizes both the Toyota Camry Hybrid (33 city/34 highway mpg) and the Chevy Malibu (26 city/34 highway mpg).
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI (30/41/34): The Jetta TDI and Jetta Sportwagen TDI (and soon, Golf TDI) will be available in all 50 states. Returning fuel economy that's roughly 40 percent better than its gas-powered counterpart, the Jetta Sportwagen TDI combines utility on par with a small SUV, world-class fuel economy and European driving dynamics in one well-rounded green machine.
2009 MINI Cooper (28/37/32): The MINI Cooper balances fun and efficiency like nothing else on the road. Responsive steering, a sport-tuned suspension and diminutive dimensions combine to deliver a driving experience that instantly evokes allusions to the proverbial go-cart. Combine that kind of athleticism with highway fuel economy up to 37 miles per gallon — and a personality bigger than the car itself — and you've got a unique brand of feel-good fun.
2009 Ford Escape Hybrid (34/31/32): We like compact crossovers for their smart mix of utility and efficiency, and the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient SUV in the country. After undergoing a major overhaul for the 2008 model year, the Ford Escape Hybrid is improved again for 2009 with smoother braking and electric-to-gas transitions, plus a 1-mile-per-gallon improvement in highway fuel economy.
2009 Honda Fit (28/34/31): The Toyota Yaris remains the category's mileage champ, but the Honda Fit so handily outshines its competitors in our eyes that it's making the list again this year. We're especially fond of the Sport model and its performance-tuned suspension and paddle shifters, but even base models are fun. If you're more interested in pure practicality than driving pleasure, be sure to check out the Fit's flexible back seat and impressive cargo-carrying abilities. The Honda Fit may be a little car, but it's a lot of car.
2009 BMW 335d (23/36/27): BMW's new diesel-powered 3 Series is one of those cars you really do have to drive to believe. First off, its zero-to-60 mph time of 6 seconds is only four-tenths slower than that of the category's gas-powered gold standard, BMW's own 335i. For most buyers, that's a small performance price to pay for an increase in fuel economy of about 35 percent (the 335i is rated at 17 city/26 highway mpg). Throw in the driving feel and cornering ability that have made the 3-Series a living legend, and you've got the greatest diesel car America's ever seen.
2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (27/25/26): The Highlander Hybrid remains the most fuel-efficient three-row vehicle available today. On top of room for seven and exceptional fuel economy, the Highlander Hybrid offers proven reliability and the added all-weather confidence of standard all-wheel drive.
2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid (21/22/21): General Motors' Two-Mode hybrid system is now available in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Despite delivering up to a 50 percent improvement in city fuel economy, GM's hybrid pickup retains its essential truckness by offering nearly 1,500 pounds of payload capacity, a 6,100-pound tow rating and a big full size bed. For those with more people to haul than cargo, the same gas-electric powertrain is available in the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV.
For more information on all of the 2009 Top 10 Green Cars, visit www.kbb.com/greencars09.