Cars.com Picks the Top 10 Hybrids for 2008

Cars.com recently released its list of the top 10 2008 model year hybrid vehicles on the market. The website says it hopes ratings and rankings methodology will help consumers get a clear understanding of these vehicles' fuel-efficiency and price differences compared to their non-hybrid counterparts.

"Hybrid rankings have often been simplistic," Cars.com senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder said. "Most are little more than lists of the highest-mileage models on the market. Here, we ranked hybrids based on how much fuel savings they get when compared to their non-hybrid version, as well as how much all that saved gas is going to cost you, since hybrid models always command a premium price."

Cars.com developed its rankings on the premise that most hybrid shoppers are looking for efficiency first, followed closely by price. All hybrids were compared to the lowest-priced, most-efficient gas-only trim level in their model line. The rankings then took into account the hybrid's mileage and price premium, in percent, as well as its suggested retail price. The 2008 Saturn Vue Green Line was ranked second behind the Toyota Prius, while the Aura Green Line was rated 9th on the list.

"Examinations that compare hybrids to 'comparably equipped' versions miss an important point. Hybrids are almost always among the most expensive trim levels, if not the most costly," Wiesenfelder said. "We know that not all buyers are willing to pay the premium for the sake of driving a hybrid. There needs to be a payoff, so our ranking highlights those hybrids that give buyers the greatest return for their investment."

Here's what Cars.com had to say about the Vue Green Line: Dramatic mileage boosts get all the attention, but Saturn is onto something with this mild hybrid approach. The current Vue Green Line's premium over the lowest-priced gas-only version is modest – only 14%. All the same, its city and highway mileage increases are 32% and 23%, respectively. What's more, it's priced below the V6 version, whose mileage it roughly doubles. The only drawback: The Vue is the only hybrid SUV not to offer all-wheel drive. A second Green Line with 2-Mode technology is coming late in 2008 as a 2009 model.

The website also had good things to say about the Aura Green Line as well: Known as a mild hybrid, the Aura Green Line delivers modest mileage improvements over the four-cylinder Aura – 9% in the city and 7% on the highway – but its price premium is a mere 12%. Chevrolet will soon also market a mild hybrid version of its Malibu. Later on, 2-Mode hybrid versions of each are expected to join or replace them, adding efficiency and cost.

Top 10 Hybrids for 2008

1. Toyota Prius ($21,100) - 48/45 mpg (EPA-estimated city/highway)
2. Saturn Vue Green Line ($24,170) - 25/32 mpg
3. Honda Civic Hybrid ($22,600) - 40/45 mpg
4. Toyota Camry Hybrid ($25,200) - 33/34 mpg
5. Lexus RX 400h ($41,280) - 27/24 mpg
6. Toyota Highlander Hybrid ($33,700) - 27/25
7. Ford Escape Hybrid ($26,505) - 34/30
8. Chevrolet Tahoe 2 Mode Hybrid ($49,590) - 21/22
9. Saturn Aura Green Line ($22,140) - 24/32
10. Lexus GS 450h ($54,900) - 22/25

Source: Cars.com

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Flashback Friday: Saturn SC on the Cover of AutoWeek

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A 1991 Saturn SC was prominently featured on the cover of AutoWeek magazine's October 8, 1990 issue with the words "Liftoff - Saturn is Launched." Inside Mark Vaughn profiled the all-new Saturn compact sedans and coupes, discussed the company's unique philosophies, and interviewed former Saturn president Richard G. "Skip" LeFauve.