When does a decent, but not spectacular, 33/29 mpg fuel efficiency net you the trophy for "Green Car of the Year?" When you're a full-sized, fully functional SUV, according to Green Car Journal Online. They've chosen the hybrid version of the Mercury Mariner as the 2006 "Green Car of the Year," beating out the Honda Civic, with a far more impressive 49/51 mpg rating, the Honda Accord, the swanky Lexus 400h, and the seven-passenger, 3500 pound towing, Toyota Highlander.

What was the deciding factor? Mario Andretti, Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, and the other judges valued newness above all things, giving extra points to cars in their earliest phases of development. Apparently being an American car was also helpful, as the judges said, "This proves that a determined Detroit can win the race."

This car is definitely not your typical SUV. Well, it is in the sense that it combines ultra-style with ultra-ruggedness--the car can tow 1000 pounds and boasts 155 horsepower--but it achieves a super ultra low emissions vehicle (SULEV) rating and shaves 11 miles per gallon off of the in-the-city gas mileage of the non-hybrid version. Unfortunately, though, I still can't see around it.


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