Ford Fusion Hybrid
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10 new fuel-friendly cars the coming year may bring.

Ford Fusion Hybrid
By Joni Gray, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

We asked Brian Moody, Edmunds.com’s road test editor, to help us round up 10 significant fuel-gentle cars that should be coming out in the next year. Although this list is by no means exhaustive and release dates are “fuzzy,” Brian takes us on a quick tour of the vehicles that might be worth waiting for if you’re looking for alternatives to gas-guzzlers in around a one-year time frame.

Ford Fusion Hybrid
This is in the works to be announced toward the end of the year, but it might be available very soon after that. Brian thinks this is a smart idea coming from Ford. “What’s cool about a Ford hybrid sedan is that it gives people who need a sedan a domestic hybrid choice.You can expect the fuel economy to be close to the Escape Hybrid -- around 34/36 combined city and highway.”

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• Autos A-Z: Ford (Ford)
Honda Fit Hybrid
Honda Fit Hybrid
Shown here is the current model Fit, but a hybrid version is heavily rumored to be on its way soon. Brian said, “It’s a pretty good bet that the next hybrid Honda adds will be a Fit or Fit-like vehicle. The new hybrid Fit is supposed to be priced beneath Civic Hybrid.”

Coincidentally, Edmunds just posted these spy shots of the future hybrid from Honda.

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• Autos A-Z: Honda (Honda)
Volkwagen Jetta & Rabbit Diesels
Volkswagen Jetta and Rabbit Diesels
Volkswagen is a brand that many hope will bring cleaner diesels to the mainstream in the U.S. It plans to do just that starting with its more affordable Jetta and Rabbit models. Volkswagen is also a brand that doesn’t scream green.

Brian commented, “The good news is that VW is going to put diesels into the hands of the average person who may just want good fuel economy in a normal car.”

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• Autos A-Z: Volkswagen (Volkswagen)
2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
So how much more fuel efficient can the “Slade” get? Even as a hybrid, the Escalade is going to cost a bundle to fill at the pump. This may prove to be true, but expert Brian Moody makes a valid point: “GM was shrewd to put out a vehicle that basically helps luxury SUV owners feel better about driving a big SUV.”

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• Autos A-Z: Cadillac (General Motors)
2009 Mercedes Benz S-Class Hybrid
2009 Mercedes Benz S-Class Hybrid
Brian sees the writing on the wall for Mercedes-Benz’s green strategy -- starting with the S-Class and working its way across the brand. “Mercedes has announced that they plan to have all their vehicles available as hybrids in the future. The hint is that a luxury diesel hybrid may be in the offing, based on their F 700 Research Car concept car which was shown at Frankfurt [Germany] last year.” Luxury, diesel, hybrid ... three words that will no doubt help ease the conscience of a greener U.S.

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• Autos A-Z: Mercedea Benz (Ford)
Mercedes-Benz GLK
Mercecdes-Benz GLK
The character of Samantha in the “Sex and the City” movie drove a sparkling white GLK (not coming until the Fall of 2009) to go shopping on Rodeo Drive. But what makes it special to nonfictional car buyers? Brian Moody says, “What’s unique about it is that it’s a smaller SUV with a diesel engine which I think will be kind of cool.” Mercedes-Benz Bluetech diesels will soon be available in all 50 states.

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• Autos A-Z: Mercedes-Benz (Ford)
Nissan Cube
Nissan Cube
Dan Neil touted this Japan-only car before its arrival in the U.S. was announced. Brian agrees that it deserves to be on the list of fuel-efficient wheels. “Like the Honda Fit, Ford Focus and other small cars, the Cube could work well for those looking to not only get better gas mileage, but want to save money too (a $30,000 Prius isn’t exactly affordable). It works because it’s simple, affordable and doesn’t use any fancy technology. It’s just a small car with a small engine.”

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• Autos A-Z: Nissan (Nissan)
Porsche Cayenne Hybrid
Porsche Cayenne Hybrid
We include this on the list more for the Porsche brand’s popularity in the Southland, but Brian Moody fears the fuel savings will only be minimal. “I would imagine a hybrid version of the Cayenne would be as much about performance as mpg -- sort of like the Lexus hybrids.”

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• Autos A-Z: Porsche (Porsche)
Chrysler Aspen & Dodge Durango Hybrids
Chrysler Aspen Hybrid

Edmunds.com reports that this hybrid will deliver an estimated 385 horsepower and return around 18 mpg in city driving and 19 mpg on the highway. Although pricing has not been announced for the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid or its sister product, the Dodge Durango Hybrid, expect a several thousand dollar premium over the non-hybrid version base price.

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• Autos A-Z” Chrysler (Chrysler)
BMW 7 Series Hydrogen
BMW Hydrogen 7-Series
BMW has focused its green energy on liquid hydrogen fuel. The problem is distribution. The company is in production with the BMW Hydrogen 7-Series now and plans to lease (at a very high price) 100 of the vehicles in the U.S. Brian Moody mentioned that a Santa Monica Shell station already has a hydrogen fuel tank. This should help local eco-enthusiasts get a shot at being chosen for the exclusive lease deal with BMW.

Brian said, “It’s coming in limited numbers for rental, but this car won’t have a giant impact on the average person because it’s not a hybrid and not available.”

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• Autos A-Z: BMW (BMW)
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