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L.A. Auto Show: Chevy Tahoe Hybrid Wins Green Car of the Year

Img_1235A full-size SUV with a 6.0-liter engine is Green Car of the Year? Strange but true: The 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid beat the Chevy Malibu Hybrid, Mazda Tribute Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and Saturn Aura Hybrid for the honor. It makes sense, though: that enormous engine is a two-mode hybrid—a second-generation hybrid powertrain that both boosts mileage at highway speeds and allows for the serious towing power a vehicle like the Tahoe needs. (Incidentally, PopSci gave the two-mode hybrid a Best of What’s New award in our December issue).

The Tahoe is the first hybrid full-size SUV, and it avoids the temptation to use that electric motor just to add horsepower while keeping fuel efficiency constant. In fact, the Tahoe gets impressive gas mileage: 21 mpg in the city, which makes it as efficient as a Toyota Camry with a 4-cylinder engine. So as odd as it may seem that a giant SUV would be anointed Green Car of the Year, the Tahoe is certainly more of a game changer than the other four finalists. That said: Here’s hoping that a truly revolutionary car—a full-fledged production plug-in hybrid or fuel-cell vehicle—comes along soon to claim this prize.—Seth Fletcher

L.A. Auto Show: The Audi "American" Concept Car

Img_1209_2Update: Oops. Frank Gehry's appearance at the Audi Cross Cabriolet concept reveal confused a number of observers, but none quite as much as me. Turns out Gehry was there to help sell the car and ruminate on the nature of design, but he didn't have a hand in designing the car itself.

One of the few big world premieres here at the L.A. Auto Show, at least so far, is the flashy, meaty convertible you see here – the Audi Cross Cabriolet Quattro concept. Designed in coordination with starchitect Frank Gehry, The concept is meant to be overtly, self-consciously “American,” hence the bold “Sunset Copper” finish, the big gaping maw, the less-than-slender proportions all around. And hence plenty of power: Its 3-liter, 6-cylinder TDI diesel engine can do 0-60 in 7.2 seconds. In efficiency mode, the Cross Cabriolet gets 20 percent better mileage. Headlamps and tail lamps are all LEDs. Audi reps say some of the design cues in this concept will appear in the new Q5, set to appear next year, which may explain some of this convertible’s very SUV-like lines. Will it get built? We’ll see. If so, let’s hope it holds together better than some of Gehry’s other recent projects... —Seth Fletcher

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