FORD ESCAPE HYBRID
Ford via AP
The 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid, seen in this promotional photo, looks like its gasoline cousin. It costs $3,000 more but gets nearly twice the mileage on a tank of gas.
msnbc.com
updated 2/15/2005 3:05:12 PM ET 2005-02-15T20:05:12

An energy efficiency group that tracks "greenest" and "meanest" cars on Tuesday released its rankings for 2005 models, adding the new Ford Escape Hybrid to its "greenest" list — the first time for a gasoline-powered SUV.

Honda's natural gas-powered Civic GX retained the top spot in the "greenest" category, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reported in its annual "Green Book."

Gasoline-electric cars — Honda's Insight, Toyota's Prius and Honda's Civic Hybrid — took the next three spots.

The gasoline-only Toyota Corolla took the fifth spot.

"For years, we've been advising buyers that greener models are available to them no matter what type of vehicle they're shopping for," ACEEE analyst James Kliesch said in a statement that accompanied the report. "Today, with a bona fide gas-powered SUV on our Greenest Vehicles list, this advice rings truer than ever."

Greenest and meanestThe group ranks vehicles based on fuel consumption as well as tailpipe emissions of pollutants and so-called greenhouse gases tied by many scientists to global warming.

Honda is the only automaker still producing a natural gas vehicle, and plans to sell a conversion kit for home garages this year. Other carmakers are focused on hybrids and, longer term, on fuel cell vehicles.

Bill Prindle, ACEEE's policy director, said in the statement that the report "shows more clearly than ever how the choices we make in buying cars and trucks determine our reliance on Middle East oil and our planet's climatic future."

"If new car and light truck buyers chose the most efficient vehicles in each size class, we would slash the 2005 fleet's gasoline use by 27 percent, reducing gasoline purchases by $6.1 billion and saving the average buyer $360 a year," he added. "Furthermore, we would cut greenhouse gas emissions accordingly. Even omitting hybrid vehicles, those numbers still add up to 19 percent, $4.1 billion, and $245 a year, respectively."

The "Meanest Vehicles" list was topped by the 8.3-liter, 500-horsepower Dodge Ram SRT10 pickup truck. The list was once again dominated by large SUVs.

Other vehicles included the Hummer H2, Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG and Lamborghini Murcielago.

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