In Detail: Green Cars At The 2011 New York Auto Show

Every year about 1 million people attend the NY Auto Show and one of the reasons is that the show often features the latest in environmentally friendly cars and trucks. One of the strongest showings in the green-but-you'd-never-know-it category is Volkswagen. VW is ushering in a new era of cars that consume less, without relying on complex hybrid drivetrains or green-washing their NYIAS booth. True, the Bulli concept is all-electric, but the real world, buy-one-tomorrow VW's are not electric or hybrid. They lack solar roof panels and regenerative braking systems, yet still manage to achieve some impressive fuel savings.

2012 Volkswagen Passat and Beetle
VW 2012 New Beetle

While lacking the latest in hybrid technology, the new VW Passat and Beetle offer a simpler form of efficiency. Both are available with different engine choices – the Passat, for example, can be had with a 2.5L, five-cylinder engine that delivers 31 mpg on the highway, or a 2.0L diesel engine that delivers an impressive 43 mpg on the highway. The Beetle offers similar engine choices but will also have the option of a 200 hp turbocharged 2.0L engine that will likely deliver fuel economy in the 29-31 mpg range.

2012 Mazda3
2012 Mazda3

Mazda will take an approach similar to VW to achieve gas savings with their 2012 Mazda3. Rather than reconfiguring the entire car as an EV or hybrid, Mazda will make their gas engines more efficient through what they're calling it SkyActiv technology. The 2012 Mazda3 with SkyActiv technology still burns gasoline, but burns less thanks to direct injection, low friction internal engine parts and the use of light weight components. The end result should be a car that earns an estimated 40 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 in the city – in line with cars a class smaller than the Mazda3, like the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Cruze.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu

The '13 Chevy Malibu will get a mild hybrid system, but they're not calling the car a hybrid. Dubbed simply the Malibu ECO, it's expected to get up to 38 miles per gallon.

BMW ActiveE
BMW ActiveE

The BMW ActiveE is the spiritual sibling to the battery powered Mini E. In fact, if you were lucky enough to have leased a Mini E, you'll have first crack at an ActiveE. As you can guess by looking at the car, the ActiveE is basically a BMW 1 Series coupe minus the gasoline engine. True to its Bimmer roots, the ActiveE will be one of the few rear-wheel drive EVs.

Unfortunately, not everyone will have the chance to pilot an ActiveE. Like the Mini E before, the car is part of a field test program designed to gather information on how people use electric cars. The field test vehicles will only be available in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and the state of Connecticut. Look for the program to kick off this fall.

If the vehicles featured at the NY Auto Show are any indication, driving a fuel sipper is about to become painless. Over the next few TRANSLOGIC episodes we look at a Porsche and a Buick, both designed to get class leading fuel economy without sacrificing performance or comfort.

Watch TRANSLOGIC 52: 2011 NY Auto Show, VW Bulli, BMW ActiveE by clicking the image below:

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