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Honda's Civic Hybrid is rated as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV)

Rankings of the the top 8 auto manufacturers
Honda and Toyota lead the list with domestic manufacturers pulling up the rear

Honda has always been a leader in the realm of fuel efficiency and environmentally friendliness. The Japanese auto manufacturer has consistently rolled out Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs) and Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEVs) that dump less polluting emissions into our atmosphere. Honda brought the first hybrid-electric vehicle to the U.S. market in the form of the Insight. The tiny, tadpole-esque two-seater weighed less than 1,900 pounds and managed to achieve EPA mileage ratings of 60MPG/66MPG city/highway with a manual transmission.

Honda was also one of the first auto manufacturers to reintroduce the use of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) to the North American market in the mid 1990s with the Civic HX -- Subaru had first tried out CVTs in the 1980s with the Justy. CVTs allow the engine to run at the most efficient RPMs and allow for increased fuel efficiency. Likewise, Honda has resisted the urge to drop a potent V8 engine in its largest SUVs and luxury sedans and has instead relied on pushing its efficient 3.5 liter V6 engine family to customers who purchase its largest vehicles.

This level of restraint and eco-friendliness on the part of Honda has led it to be labeled as the "2007 Greenest Automaker" by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). This is the fourth consecutive year that the automaker has won the award.

The top 8 auto manufacturers -- which represent 96% of the U.S. car and light truck market -- were tested across ten MY2005 vehicle classes on tailpipe emissions and overall contribution to global warming. You can download the full results of the UCS test here (PDF).

"Honda remains the greenest U.S. automaker. The company installs clean technology across its entire fleet of cars and trucks and that consistency makes it a top environmental performer" said Don MacKenzie, a vehicle engineer for the UCS and author of the report. "In addition, Honda continues to have the best smog score in four out of the five classes."

Honda slightly beat out second place Toyota which has also made strides to cut emissions and improve fuel economy across its entire vehicle lineup. "Toyota's ranking shows that size is no excuse for a dirty fleet," MacKenzie continued. "All of the automakers have the technology today to make all of their vehicles, from two-seaters to four-by-fours, a lot cleaner."

Hyundai/Kia placed third with Nissan and Volkswagen taking fourth and fifth respectively. Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler rounded out the tail end of the list. General Motors was singled out for having the most vehicles in the lineup with EPA city mileage ratings of 15MPG or lower. Last place DaimlerChrysler was also criticized for its fleet of vehicles which produce 70% more pollutants than first place Honda and earned the "Rusty Tailpipe Award."

"There is a huge gap between the cleanest and dirtiest automakers," MacKenzie. "The winners are using clean technology across their entire fleets. The losers are installing it piecemeal, or not at all."

"Americans are paying closer attention to their personal environmental impact, and they want greener cars," said Ted Grozier of environmental strategy consulting firm GreenOrder. "The successful automaker is going to figure out a way to deliver those cars to consumers."

Just last week, President Bush issued a call to auto manufacturers to boost fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in new vehicles. Bush's plan calls for a 20% reduction in gasoline usage by 2017 and a halt in the rise of greenhouse emissions. The move is expected to cost the auto industry $114 billion USD.

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By FITCamaro on 4/9/2007 12:31:10 PM , Rating: 1
No. GM and Ford are bleeding money from huge medical, retirement, and wage costs. Honda and Toyota don't have the aged labor force that GM and Ford do. In 30 years, they'll be in much the same boat. Unions haven't become throughly entrenched in them like they are at Ford and GM. Wisely, they're trying to not let the unions in as much. Unfortunately GM and Ford can't get rid of them quite so easily.

Unions are killing domestic manufacturers by causing people doing unskilled labor, or even at times nothing at all, to be paid $25-35 an hour or more. There are rooms at these plants where guys sit and do nothing but get paid for it, simply because GM and Ford can't fire them because of labor contracts. They're slowly getting rid of them. But its costing them a fortune to do so.

Also I don't know about you, but I don't like having to wind an engine to 5000+ rpm to get any kind of power out of it. My Cobalt's 2.4L starts to kick in around 2000 rpm and is making its torque by 3000. Granted in normal city driving I don't take it much above 3500 if that. But with a Honda it has to work harder. I've driven Honda's and my Cobalt. My Cobalt is far more responsive and gets equal mileage. Right now with an 8 mile commute thats mostly city driving I average 27-28 mpg. With a 12 gallon tank (although I've never managed to get more than 11 into it), I put 10 gallons or so in every 2 weeks(sometimes 2 and a half weeks). That's perfectly acceptable to me. And it's premium gas no less. I was in Washington, D.C. this past week and had a Chevy HHR rental with the 2.2L Ecotec. While not as responsive as my 2.4L, it was ok acceleration and in a week I used 2.2 gallons of gas doing entirely city driving. A friend of mine rented a 2.2L auto Cobalt and between Orlando and Melbourne, FL he got around 38-40 mpg.

Advertised numbers don't mean anything. Imports get good mileage but so do domestics. And I'd rather have the domestic since it's more tuned for driving here and having power both down low and up high rather than just up high as with an import. I'll admit several of the import V6s out there are nice and make good power, but they often want way too much for those models to the point where I can get a V8 powered car with nearly as good a mileage. Acura's 300 hp TL V6 6-speed that gets 20/29 mpg or so costs more than a Pontiac GTO with 400 hp, a 6-speed, and 18-19/27-28 (often better) mpg.

And I've driven imports with shitty mileage too. My dad's 95 4Runner was a dog and had no acceleration whatsoever over 40 mph and got 14-15 mpg in the city and 18-19 on the highway with a V6.

By feelingshorter on 4/9/2007 1:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
The same stories can be told about your Colbalt getting good gas millage as can be told of people driving Civics/Corolla, manual or auto. I'll admit that you can get a Colbalt for much cheaper though, and that brings into the question how long the car will last. My parents have owned a Corsica, brand new, from long ago. Will never touch an American car again, I don't need to tell you how much money we spent on repairs. Since then, bought a 06 Camry, and no major repairs at all and still running today.

Maybe I gave some people the wrong impression when I said Honda need to run at higher RPM. Anyone that drives a Honda knows that their engine doesn't need to touch 5000 rpm in regular day to day driving. Drive an Accord, those cars aren't slow.

Your real life speed will be limited by a lot of traffic and stop lights. Your speed will is also limited by how much balls you have to speed 15-20 miles over the speed limit on a 45. Other than that, if your driving just 5-7 miles over the speed limit in a city, whats all that power good for? Fine, take your car on the highway for example. I've been in many civics and they keep up with highway speeds just fine.

By Ringold on 4/9/2007 9:45:11 PM , Rating: 2
I test drove a Civic about a year ago and took it on a very short jaunt on a highway.

You're right, once it's at highway speeds, it was.. acceptable. But I floored it trying to achieve that speed and merge in to traffic tearing along at 75mph. Didn't just floor it for a moment, either, but continuously -- it just didn't have any oomph.

After considering that, and the fact it felt like a little tiny coffin, was deal-killer. Maybe flooring the accelerator and only slowly achieving merging speed is your idea of "just fine", but it wasn't for me. I think it'd of gone quicker if I'd got out and pushed..

By weskurtz0081 on 4/10/2007 8:38:19 AM , Rating: 2
Hold on man,

This whole article was over gas mileage, and so have been the conversations. You ask how long the Cobalt will last.... probably isn't a good answer to that question as it is still a fairly new car. The first one came out around what.... 2 years ago? Also, you use a 1 year old car as an example of why Toyota makes good cars?

How do you know what anyones real life speed will be? How many Cobalts have you driven? My issue with your post is that it's all your opinion and doesn't do a good job at proving any points. For the record, I drive a Tundra, and this is my second one.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By dever on 4/9/2007 1:36:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised that with your fairly accurate assessment of unions that you still are loyal to the "American" car companies. When you buy from a unionized car company you pay for all of the inherent inefficiencies. You're paying for unskilled workers being paid $30/hour. You're paying for union cronies that can't get fired, but refuse to work. Why reward that sort of system?

My dad retired from GM, and even with the employee family discounts I get the only car I can justify purchasing from GM is the Nummi (Toyota) joint venture vehicles.

By FITCamaro on 4/9/2007 5:33:00 PM , Rating: 1
Because I'd rather put money in greedy American corporate pockets than greedy foreign corporate pockets. I'm a Chevy guy (if you can't tell) and Bob Lutz is working his @$$ off trying to get Chevy back to the car company it used to be. You don't hear about him riding corporate jets to his home in Florida every weekend like the guys at Ford. He brought us the GTO, he's bringing us the new Camaro and Pontiac G8, and many more vehicles to come.

As far as the quality though of my corporate greed, overpaid union built Chevy, I find it fine. 33,000+ miles in 16 months and nothing but oil changes and the 30,000 mile service needed. Still on stock brakes, tires, and plugs. And yes, I'm paying for those inefficiencies. The car is still cheaper and just as good. Now imagine what they could do if all that crap were gone.

Call it patriotic or idiotic, I'll keep supporting the car companies that have been here for years and will continue to be for years to come. Honda and Toyota just build cars. Chevy and, yes, Ford, build legends.

By Ringold on 4/9/2007 9:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, you're *not* paying for those inefficiencies! If GM and Ford is operating at a loss in North America, it show's that they're selling below true costs, which means they're taking that inefficiency on the chin and the consumer gets a car at below value.

Bites for stockholders. Good for FITCamaro. :)

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