The Union of Concerned Scientists (fun name!) knows that all hybrids were not created equal. So it has created this hybrid scorecard to help consumers determine if the added costs associated hybrid vehicles are worth it. The first thing those scientists looked at was the environmental score.
Going from a conventional Toyota Matrix to a Prius reduces global warming emissions a whopping 44 percent. That's like trading in a Hummer H3 for a Mini Cooper. By contrast, going from a Saturn Aura to an Aura Hybrid only reduces emissions 10 percent, the equivalent of trading in the Hummer H3 for a 3.7-liter Jeep Grand Cherokee. ...The worst environmental performers, the Chevy Malibu Hybrid and Saturn Aura Hybrid, are "hollow hybrids." Their electric motors aren't powerful enough to provide significant assistance in moving the vehicle, a key feature of hybrid technology. In reality, these are not hybrid vehicles. Their poor Environmental Score and Hybrid Value rating show how taking a half-hearted approach to hybrid technology can undermine consumers' confidence in the hybrid label.Also taken into account were "hybrid value" (how environmentally effective is the hybridization for a given cost?) and "forced features" (how significantly do frivolous bells and whistles drive up the price?). Here's a complete explanation of the findings. Is the hybrid scorecard a useful tool for choosing a vehicle?Via Gas 2.0. Image: Saturn's Aura.