Top Five Dare-to-be-Different Green Cars

Sam Smith

Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid
Base price: $90,000 (est.)
EPA fuel economy: 19/26 mpg

DIFFERENT BECAUSE: It's a comfy, understated, autobahn-friendly monster.

Traditionally, if you wanted a big luxury car, you had to pay the price: the bigger your ride, the bigger the fuel bill. No more. The age of the fuel-efficient luxoboat is upon us, and its chief star (no pun intended) is the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid.

Like every S-class, the S400 offers continent-swallowing pace and a quiet sense of dignity. Unlike every other S-class, however, the S400 sports a lithium-ion battery pack and a compact, ring-shaped electric motor paired to a 275-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The latter runs on the Atkinson cycle and benefits from the motor's 118 lb-ft of torque; thanks to careful tuning, the whole assembly interacts seamlessly, offering a driving experience as glassily sedate as that of every other Mercedes. Unlike most hybrids, the S400's genius lies in its utter lack of occasion -- it's simply a large, relaxed, and cushy autobahn cruiser, with everything that notion entails. If you want to reduce your consumption but -- horrors! -- can't bear the thought of life without automatic-massage seats, triple-digit highway poise, and more passenger room than a 747, this is the car for you.

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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