Top Five Dare-to-be-Different Green Cars

Sam Smith

A couple years back, the New York Times ran a front-page story on the Toyota Prius, then America's best-selling hybrid vehicle. In typically thorough fashion, the Gray Lady took a long, hard look at the green-machine cult, aiming to discover what makes hybrid owners tick.

For the astute car nut, the conclusions the paper drew were anything but surprising: As it turns out, the number-one reason people buy Priuses isn't fuel economy. It's image. The Times article referenced a survey conducted by CNW Market Research of Bandon, Oregon, in which 57 percent of Prius owners admitted that they bought their cars because "it makes a statement about me." A mere 36 percent cited superior fuel mileage as their main motivator. Enthusiasm and behind-the-wheel fun didn't even make the list. Nor did the notion of standing out from the crowd.

Therein lies the problem with the Prius. It's one of the best-selling green cars in the country for a reason -- as a tool for efficient, reliable transport, it's hard to beat. But what if you want something with a little more spring in its environmentally friendly step? What if you want to do your better-planet part without shouting an EPA rating from the rooftops? What if you just want something...different?

Allow us to help.

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Onliest problem with those old insights is that you can never get the "Are you kind?" bumper stickers and peace decals off the back.And better sterilize the ashtray.

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