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The Green Mile

Students may think gas prices are becoming outrageous, but Americans should keep in mind that most of Europe pays more than $5, with some places – such as the Netherlands – paying well over $6 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. There are now a variety of options to make the American dollars go the extra mile.

Gasoline is the fuel of the past and our future must be clean-burning. Hybrid technology offers a variety of choices to suit everyone’s needs and has obvious benefits. Instead of subscribing to the gas-hogging dinosaurs, it makes sense to switch to more fuel-efficient and cleaner-burning hybrid cars.

Toyota and Honda are battling it out for hybrid vehicle supremacy.

Honda has set the mark on the map for the availability of hybrid technology by offering three different models. In a straight miles per gallon performance, nothing beats the Honda Insight hybrid: the two-seaters with the rear wheel covers. Insights were the first hybrid cars to be sold in America and are still unmatched in fuel efficiency, with models boasting a jaw-dropping maximum of 66 miles per gallon. It’s like driving from the USF campus Orlando on a single gallon of gas. The Insight starts around $19,000. Honda also offers hybrid versions the Accord and Civic, both praised for performance.

Toyota has brought its touch of quality and technological innovations into the Prius. This four-door hybrid sedan has features never seen in a car, ranging from a new type of car entry system to Bluetooth capabilities. The Prius has no need for a key to turn the ignition. It is all part of Toyota’s Smart Key System. Instead of a key, the Prius relies on a transponder that transmits a secure code used to unlock and start the car. The Prius’ fuel efficency makes out at 51 – 60 miles per gallon.

In the wake of Honda’s hybrid versions of the Accord and Civic, Toyota has introduced the hybrid version of its popular mid-size SUV the Highlander. This hybrid model is anything but underpowered, with a 268 horsepower V6 engine able to accelerate from 0 – 60 in just a little over seven seconds. The Highlander hybrid starts around $33,000. Don’t expect a fuel saver though; SUVs are gas hogs no matter what. It will get a max of 33 miles per gallon, which is still more fuel-efficient than any other SUV in its class.

There are still more benefits for switching over to a hybrid vehicle. The government gives up to $2,000 in tax deductions with the purchase of most hybrid models.

Though hybrids are the best performing vehicles sold on today’s market, consumers should not necessarily view them as the mode of transportation of the future. Hybrid technology is not a step forward, but rather a step off to the side. The future of transportation will no longer rely on gasoline, nor, most likely, the internal combustion engine. Keep an eye out for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology. Instead of producing harmful emissions, Hydrogen powered cars of the future will leave behind pure water as a byproduct.