2010 Prius - click above for high-res image gallery

Last year, the first time WhatGreenCar gave out its Green Car of the Year award for UK vehicles, the Ford Focus EcoNetic won the title. That car managed to get a 33 on a WGC's hundred-point scale (lower is better) for, well, greenness. This year's winner for the U.S. market Car of the Year was the 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder continuously variable transmission 2010 Toyota Prius. The Prius scored a 30 to beat out nine other finalists:


Two other cars near the top of the list, the Ford Fusion hybrid and the Honda Insight, were also "highly commended," so we have to assume the list is based more on specs than driving pleasure. While this award only looked at U.S. vehicles, a quick glance at WhatGreenCar's UK site shows a range of vehicles that scored under 30 points. Does that make the Prius award a sort of consolation prize?

[Source: WhatGreenCar]

PRESS RELEASE:

2010 Toyota Prius is WhatGreenCar Car of the Year

WhatGreenCar has awarded its prestigious Car of the Year Award to the 2010 Toyota Prius.

The 2010 Prius was chosen from a short-list of 10 green car finalists and the judging was independently conducted by WhatGreenCar. To be eligible for the Award, models had to be commercially available in the U.S. and have a WhatGreenCar Environmental Rating of 45 or less.

The short-list of models for the 2010 Award included: two subcompacts, the Smart fortwo gasoline (WhatGreenCar Rating 39) and MINI Cooper gasoline (43); three small cars, the Honda Insight hybrid (34), Lexus 250h hybrid (42) and Honda Civic CNG (41); three mid-size models, the Toyota Prius hybrid (30), Ford Fusion Hybrid (40) and Nissan Altima hybrid (44); and two SUVs, the Ford Escape (45) and Mazda Tribute hybrid (45).

Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of WhatGreenCar said: "While we were impressed by the latest technology on all ten models on the short-list, we were unanimous in our acclaim for the 2010 Prius. In addition to the new model's outstanding environmental rating, we particularly like the way the car seamlessly integrates green features as part of its design. This encourages a smooth stress-free driving style, improves fuel economy and drives down emissions. If Apple made a car, it would probably be the 2010 Prius."

With a lighter and more and compact power-train, the third-generation Prius is greener than ever with a WhatGreenCar Rating of just 30, (the best across all vehicle classes in the short-list), a fuel economy of 51/48 mpg (City/Highway) and test CO2 emissions of only 127 g/km, which represents a 5% improvement over the highly successful multi-award-winning 2009 model.

This 2010 Prius hybrid has a combined engine/battery output of a 134 horsepower and looks more dynamic than the outgoing model, although after selling over 1 million units in the past decade the new Prius has a lot to live up to. The aerodynamic drag of the Prius is down to 0.25 making it one of the lowest figures for any production car, and it also boasts to be one of the most fuel-efficient cars offered by a major manufacturer in the U.S.

Counter-intuitively, the new Prius uses a new four-cylinder, 1.8-litre petrol engine in place of the 1.5-litre unit in the 2009 model to improve overall fuel economy, and offers additional driver control via three driving modes: EV, ECO and POWER – in EV mode, the car can be driven as a pure electric vehicle for as long as the battery charge allows. For the first time, the new model incorporates plant based bio-plastics for its interior components and a solar roof that keeps the temperature inside the car at comfortable levels.

With its award-winning green credentials, high quality build, superb handling and excellent value (base price of $22,805), the 2010 Prius is the worthy recipient in every respect of the 2010 WhatGreenCar Car of the Year Award.

To view the 2010 Prius' WhatGreenCar Rating, visit: http://www.whatgreencar.com/us/view-car/8182/TOYOTA-Prius

Honda Insight and Ford Fusion hybrids highly commended
In addition to awarding the Car of the Year title to the 2010 Prius, WhatGreenCar also highly commended the 2010 Honda Insight and Ford Fusion hybrids.

The all-new Insight is a completely new hybrid sedan from Honda for the 2010 range, and it shows no resemblance to its futuristic-shaped ground-breaking two-door coupe predecessor. Compared to the Prius, it is aimed at a slightly more budget-conscious customer who wants to make an environmental statement (WGC Rating 34) as well as cutting their fuel consumption – the Insight achieves a fuel economy of 40/43 mpg (City/Highway).

The Insight's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system works alongside the 1.3-litre VTEC four-cylinder engine, helping it during acceleration as well as recharging the battery system when the engine is either coasting or braking. Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and start/stop are standard features. This 2010 Insight has a base price of $20,510.

To view the 2010 Insights' WhatGreenCar Rating, visit: http://www.whatgreencar.com/us/view-car/7669/HONDA-Insight

The Fusion is Ford's application of its advanced-hybrid technology in an upscale, mid-size traditionally styled sedan. The Fusion hybrid can operate up to 47 mph in pure electric mode, which is approximately twice as fast as some of its rivals. Its upgraded nickel-metal hydride battery is 20 per cent more powerful than previous batteries used in Ford hybrids.

Equipped with a 2.5-litre, I4, 156-horsepower, hybrid engine the 2010 Fusion achieves 41/36 mpg (City/Highway) and has a WGC Rating of 40. On a single tank of gas, the city driving range is more than 700 miles. The Ford Fusion hybrid has a base price of $31,590.

To view the 2010 Fusion hybrid's WhatGreenCar Rating, visit: http://www.whatgreencar.com/us/view-car/7648/FORD-Fusion%20Hybrid

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