Fall in Los Angeles means several things: Santa Ana winds, Lakers basketball and of course, the L.A. Auto Show, which opens to the public Nov. 30.
One of the key events at the show is the award for the Green Car of the Year, presented for the last seven years to the vehicle that best exemplifies leadership in environmental concerns. Last year's winner was the Honda Civic Natural Gas, while the Chevy Volt won the year before that.
On Thursday the five finalists for the 2013 award were announced (they're all 2013 models). They are: the Dodge Dart Aero, the Ford Fusion, the Ford C-MAX, the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota Prius.
The Dodge Dart sedan and Mazda CX-5 compact SUV were each chosen because they are non-hybrid models that still yield impressive fuel economy figures (though our review of the Mazda found this came at the expense of meaningful horsepower).
The Fords were chosen because they offer consumers a choice of efficient drivetrains; the C-MAX hatchback is available as either a hybrid or plug-in hybrid while the Fusion sedan comes in gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
Finally, the Prius c was chosen because it expands the Prius lineup of efficient hybrids, alongside the original Prius and the larger Prius V wagon.
If we had to choose a winner, we'd probably give it to the Ford C-MAX hybrid. Not only is it efficient, but it still has plenty of power so you don't feel like you've compromised in fun to go green (we'll have a full review on this car and the Ford Fusion in the coming weeks).
But the award isn't up to us. That responsibility falls to a jury that includes the director of the Sierra Club, Jacques Cousteau's eldest son and Jay Leno. The winner will be announced Nov. 29, the second press day of the L.A. Auto Show. Stay tuned right here for who the group selects, as well as complete coverage of the show live from the floor.