What's the least pollution-spewing car that Christian can buy?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 2007

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm a sales rep handling six states in the Midwest. I drive about 36,000 miles a year. I'm concerned about the amount of garbage cars spew. I'm thinking about finding a cleaner car, but the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight are not options. How can I find not only the most fuel-efficient vehicles, but the ones that also spew the least amount of pollution? -- Christian

TOM: Well, generally speaking, they're one and the same, Christian. The less gasoline a vehicle uses, the less pollution it expels.

RAY: Right. There might be some small differences between cars that get the same mileage, because of specific engine technologies and different pollution-control systems. But broadly speaking, the better your mileage, the less you're polluting.

TOM: You say that the Prius and Insight are not options for you, but you don't say why. I'm guessing that you're either a big fella, or that when traveling 36,000 miles a year, you want something a little bigger and more comfortable in order to cut down on your chiropractic bills.

RAY: If that's the case, take a look at the Toyota Camry Hybrid or the new Nissan Altima Hybrid, both of which are pretty spacious cars that get about 40 mpg. Honda also makes the Accord Hybrid, but we don't recommend it because its mileage is mediocre.

TOM: If you're skipping the Prius and Insight because you'd rather buy American, unfortunately there are no large American-company hybrids on the market at the moment that aren't an SUV, which it sounds like you'd like to avoid. But just make high mileage your top priority when you're shopping, Christian, and you'll be saving money and helping to save the planet. What a deal, huh?

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