Tell me something, do you think driving a car that's better for the environment than, say, a 1980 Buick, is a surefire recipe for getting a "Ha-ha!" when you're driving down the strip? I think there are plenty of people who see driving green is totally chic (see any of the celeb+Prius posts over at Ecorazzi or stories of people who loooove their biodiesel Mercedes), but for the folks at NADA Guides, there are three top green cars (and they cost between $34,000-$51,000):
You can read the reasoning in the release pasted after the jump. But let's use this post as a semi-open thread to talk about style and being green. It seems to me that when you drive a green vehicle, what you're saying is that you take the environment into account. Does that mean you hold it in higher esteem than the thoughts of your fellow drivers? How much style would you sacrifice for cleaner driving? Is the attention you're guaranteed to get in a Smart or a Zap! worth it to emit less?

[Source: NADAguides.com]
Does Driving Green Mean Buying Lean?

COSTA MESA, Calif., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- If you're in the market to buy a Green vehicle, but worry you'll sacrifice the amenities, power, spaciousness or curb appeal of a standard, gas-powered car, the experts at NADAguides.com (http://www.nadaguides.com/) -- a leading vehicle pricing and information website -- say there are plenty of options available for the distinguished Green Car buyer. Today, they released a list of just some of their top picks.

When evaluating "Green Cars," NADAguides.com lead auto expert, Mark Perleberg, said the company took into consideration various vehicles in a variety of categories, including those powered by a combination of gas and electric engines -- or "hybrids" (known for their fuel efficiency and their cleaner burning engines) -- natural gas cars, and even those powered by diesel fuel. Perleberg says the company evaluated diesel fuel cars because they average 20 to 30 percent better fuel economy, and this reduced fuel usage means they emit less carbon dioxide than standard gasoline engines (while burning much more cleanly today than in years past).

Following is a list of some of the top NADAguides.com Green Car picks.

2007 Lexus RX 400h AWD 4dr Hybrid

The 2007 Lexus RX 400h AWD Hybrid was a favorite for its commitment to safety, extensive optional equipment and overall design. The RX 400h, with a price tag of $42,580, features 208 horsepower, front, side and head air bags, state-of-the-art navigation and sound systems and a spacious interior. "Crossover enthusiasts and Lexus lovers will appreciate this car," said Perleberg. "The RX 400h is distinguished, with roominess on the inside and sleek styling on the outside." Some experts claim its EPA estimates of 31-City, 27-Highway (hybrid cars use less gas in city driving situations when their gas-powered engines switch to electric power at stop lights, stop signs and in heavy traffic) are a bit over-inflated, but the car scores huge wins in both Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Scores. A Greenhouse Gas Score reflects the exhaust emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to the EPA. The higher the score, the less carbon dioxide emitted. Of particular note, says Perleberg, is the vehicle's impressive forward thrust and passing power at highway speeds.

2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD 4dr SE

With a third-row seat, sizeable towing capacity, an anti-theft system and an MP3-equipped sound system (as well as touch-screen navigation controls and a rear seat DVD entertainment system), the 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SE was another top NADAguides.com Green Car pick. "With a powerful V6, plenty of interior room and cargo space, and lots of creature features, this is a well-rounded SUV with excellent get-up-and-go." The 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SE, priced at $34,430, comes equipped with a Gas/Electric V6 engine, a 5-speed automatic transmission, and boasts EPA ratings of 31-City, 27-Highway MPG, with solid Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Scores.

2007 Mercedes Benz E Class 4dr Sedan 3.0L Blue Tec

Honorable mention went to the new 2007 Mercedes Benz E Class 3.0L Blue Tec. With an MSRP of $51,550, the 2007 Mercedes Benz E Class Blue Tec offers 208 horsepower, a 7-speed automatic transmission and plenty of luxury amenities, including climate control, keyless entry, a state-of-the-art navigation system, a trip computer, steering-wheel-enabled audio controls, and an attractive exterior design Mercedes-Benz buyers have come to appreciate. "We love the Mercedes Blue Tec for a variety of reasons," said Perleberg. "Not only is this a distinguished-looking car, it's jam packed with tons of luxury options. Most importantly, its diesel engine offers a more fuel efficient, powerful alternative to a standard gas-powered Mercedes, with EPA fuel estimates in the 26-City to 37-Highway range."

"Our bottom-line conclusion is that concerned car buyers who care about the environment don't have to sacrifice on quality or looks," said Perleberg. "We think there are a number of refined, luxurious alternative fuel vehicles out there. Distinguished car buyers can have their cake and eat it too."

"We're all concerned about global warming and protecting our environment," said Don Christy Jr., president and CEO, NADAguides.com, "but today, being environmentally conscious doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on quality or style when it comes to the car you drive. Car buyers want the best of both worlds -- they want vehicles they love to own and drive while taking care of the environment in the process."

People interested in researching the Green Cars mentioned here can log onto (http://www.nadaguides.com/) for more information. The website also offers a 2007 new car buying guide, car prices, car buying reviews, car quotes, used car prices and classic car prices, including a wealth of additional information to help consumers with their car buying research.

About NADAguides.com

N.A.D.A. Appraisal Guides (NADAguides.com) is the world's largest publisher of vehicle pricing and specification information for new and used cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs, as well as van conversions, limousines, classic and collectible cars, boats, RVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, personal watercraft and manufactured housing. The company's consumer website, NADAguides.com (www.NADAguides.com), offers a variety of new and used vehicle services in addition to valuation information. Throughout its 74-year history, N.A.D.A. Appraisal Guides has earned the reputation as the recognized authority for vehicle valuations. Its website, NADAguides.com, is the most comprehensive vehicle information resource on the Internet today.

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