Joel was there live today as the Green Car Journal announced that the winner of its first Green Car of the Year is the Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The jury selecting the winner included Green Car Journal staff, as well as automotive and environmental experts such as Carroll Shelby, Jean-Michel Cousteau and Mario Andretti. Judges were looking for vehicles that advanced overall efficiency and functionality while decreasing environmental impact. The Mercury Mariner Hybrid fit the bill by achieving 33mpg/city and 29mpg/highway, having a range of over 400 miles per tank and still managing to be as functional as its gas-only counterpart.

"The hybrid Mariner is the right idea at the right time," says Roland Hwang, vehicles policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council who was present at the ceremony. "To regain its competitive edge, Detroit must come to grips with how high pump prices have put consumers in an entirely new mindset. This vehicle proves that a determined Detroit can win the race."

[Source: Ford] This new honor is added to the Mercury Mariner Hybrid’s trophy case where a “Best Compact SUV” award from the Texas Auto Writers Association and already resides. Mercury actually rushed the Mariner Hybrid into production a full one year ahead of schedule due to market demand, which in light of its critical success was apparently a good idea.

Gee, I wonder who won?

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