On the environmentally conscious streets of Portland, Or., journalists and automotive representatives met to discuss the latest in automotive technologies and eco-friendly vehicles. During Drive Revolution, journalists tested a slew of 14 hybrid or electric vehicles (EV) and suss out the best among them.
Automotive manufacturers of the vehicles present gave brief, but informative, presentations on their vehicles before journalists drove and judged each vehicle.
There were four categories: Hybrid Vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles, Green Luxury Vehicles, and the 2016 Northwest Automotive Press Association’s Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year.
The top cars of the year had some staunch competition in their respective groups.
EV Vehicles included the Volkswagen e-Golf, Fiat 500e, the Kia Soul EV+, and the Nissan Leaf. Five hybrids duked it out: The Toyota Prius Four Touring, Toyota’s RAV4 Limited AWD, Honda Accord Hybrid Touring, the Lexus RX 450h, and the much anticipated Acura NSX supercar (not really a fair competition in cool on that last one). In the Plug-in Hybrid category, there was the Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Limited, the Ford Fusion Energi Platinum, the Chevrolet Volt, a Mercedes-Benz C350e, and BMW’s X5 xDrive40e.
That’s some hard picking, but – somehow – the journalists of NWAPA managed the feat with ease (it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it…).
Yet, out of these 14 vehicles, there can be one winner in each category.
Best Hybrid Vehicle: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid ($36,790)
While our time with the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring was brief, it was well spent in the lap of comfort and premium refinements. Powered by a 2.0L DOHC 4-cylinder engine and a two-motor hybrid system; one starting the engine while the other works on acceleration. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 49 mpg city, 47 mpg highway, and 48 mpg combined.
Leather-trimmed seats envelope the occupants while the driver gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel for their driving pleasure. A 7-inch touchscreen allows access to the HondaLink infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth hands free, plenty of in-car apps, and more.
“The 2017 Accord Hybrid is the most graceful of the current crop of hybrid sedans, and we’re glad to see Honda making this 48-mpg model widely available,” said Bengt Halvorson, NWAPA member and co-chairman of Drive Revolution.
Honda’s top Accord hybrid also offers the top Honda Sensing suite, including collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise, lane departure warnings and lane keeping assistive technologies, a slew of airbags, and more.
Best Plug-in Hybrid: 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf ($29,815)
Volkswagen is known for making fun to drive hatchbacks (their famed Golf being the epitome of a hot-hatch). Well, their driver-centric design has translated easily and eco-efficiently into the Volkswagen e-Golf variant of the beloved hatchback.
Being a full electric vehicle, the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf is powered by an 85 kW electric motor capable of 115 horsepower. The e-Golf offers an 83-mile range and has an estimated 126 city mpg-equivalent, 105 highway mpg-equivalent, and a 116 mpg-equivalent combined.
“The e-Golf is a delightful vehicle to drive and a great value at $29,815,” said Jeff Zurchmeide, NWAPA member and co-chairman of Drive Revolution.
On the inside, there’s a heated front seats with manual seating adjustments (as with many EVs), cloth seating surfaces, and a dual-zone Climatronic climate system. While not plush, it’s comfortable and efficient.
The infotainment system includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen connected to 8-speakers, Sirius XM radio (and AM/FM of course), Bluetooth connected in-car apps, and the VW Car-Net system which brings your cars information to your smart phone.
Volkswagen’s e-Golf is a great little hot hatch for the eco-friendly driver. It includes many of the needs for today’s drivers, while staying safe for others and the environment.
Best Green Luxury Vehicle: 2017 Acura NSX ($157,800)
It’s been a long time coming, but the 2017 Acura NSX is a supercar for the environmentally conscious. Acura included a hand-assembled twin-turbocharged V6 engine connected to three electric motors (two at the front and one connected to the engine) and blazing quick 9-speed dual-clutch transmission. Engine outputs are 573 horsepower and 476 lb.-ft. of torque from the whole system (500 hp from the V6 engine).
“I can tell you is that the 2017 Acura NSX does inspire the raw emotion car enthusiasts are looking for, and delivers it in spades. The looks will make you swoon (but you already knew that or you wouldn’t be reading this) and the engine and motors will make your heart flutter like a school girl’s, but that’s how it should be,” I finished my “Portland and the 2017 Acura NSX” article.
While it’s an innate supercar with a top speed around 190 mph, it also comes with the stopping power of a premium track vehicle.
Everything on the Acura NSX is optional, including the interior in which we drove. The Semi-Aniline saddle leather was in the same optional package as the Alcantara Power Seats. The interior carbon fiber bits were another optional add on. The ELS Studio sound system is always an optional add-on with Acura vehicles, and the same is true of the 2017 NSX.
While that may seem silly, it’s genius. While the base 2017 Acura NSX costs around $168,000 (sans taxes and fees), it can be customized to well north of $200K, making the customer’s car well and truly their own creation.
Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year: 2017 Chevrolet Volt ($40,925)
Unlike other hybrids in today’s lineup, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt is primarily an electric vehicle with a gas-generator engine as a range extender. It is propelled by a Voltec electric drive motor with a 1.5L range extending engine that pops on when the battery is drained, giving this EV-hybrid a range around 420 miles, 53 of which can be 100-percent EV.
“The Volt was among the first vehicles to bring electric driving into the mainstream, and Chevy is really keeping the Volt out in front of the competition,” said Nik Miles, President of the Northwest Automotive Press Association.
On the inside, you get premium comfort via leather-appointed front bucket seats, heated seats for all passengers, and more. The infotainment system offers plenty of technology for the every-day driver, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the 8-inch touchscreen display. (We’re trying to save a little information for an upcoming review of the 2017 Chevrolet Volt…)
So, you get an EV that actually has range, a comfortable and tech-filled interior, and a competitive price tag that keeps the Volt in competition with big named EVs. For those reasons, and more, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt is NWAPA’S Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year!