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Overview
Hybrid timeline
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May 2008
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Guide to future hybrid models
Revealing the green cars of tomorrow

The U.S. car market is set to welcome more than a dozen new gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles in the next three years, each striking its own fuel economy, emissions, and performance balance.

Current hybrid models are designed to emphasize different performance aspects. Models--like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid, which achieved an excellent 44 and 37 mpg overall, respectively, in our tests--are tuned for fuel economy. Other models, including the Lexus RX 400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid, are designed to provide quicker acceleration while providing only a moderate increase in fuel economy, compared with conventional versions of the same models.

Upcoming hybrids will also be designed to achieve different performance goals, which we've noted in the following summaries where possible. Because of this, it's especially important to look carefully at all aspects of a hybrid before buying.


How hybrids work

A hybrid gets better fuel economy and has lower emissions by using an electric motor, which is powered by a high-voltage battery pack, to assist the gasoline engine. "Full hybrid" models, like the Toyota Prius, can run on the electric motor, the gasoline engine, or a combination of the two, depending on the driving conditions. A "mild hybrid" system uses the electric motor to provide extra power when needed, but it can't run solely on electric power. Both full- and mild-hybrid systems can be designed to increase acceleration as well as fuel economy.

All hybrids save fuel by using an integrated starter motor. It automatically shuts off the gasoline engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, such as at a stop sign or traffic light. The engine automatically starts again when needed.

Hybrids do not need to be plugged in to recharge. The gasoline engine recharges the battery pack. Additional charging comes from "regenerative braking," which generates electrical energy during deceleration.


Upcoming hybrid models

The list below is presented as a guide to future hybrid models based on manufacturer-supplied information. Due to the volatile nature of the automobile business and the hybrid sector in particular, this should be considered a forecast. Dates shown are for the calendar year, with years beyond 2008 being educated predictions. Also see our timeline for future hybrid releases.



Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac Escalade
2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
Expected in: 2008
The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is the first hybrid in the large luxury SUV category. The Escalade will use a two-mode hybrid system shared with both the Yukon and Tahoe hybrids. GM claims it will deliver more than a 50-percent improvement in fuel economy.

Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra

Chevrolet Silverado
2009 Chevrolet Silverado hybrid
Expected in: 2008
The Silverado and its GMC clone, the Sierra, are slated for a redesign for the 2009 model year. They will offer a version of GM's two-mode hybrid system, like that introduced a year earlier for the Chevrolet Tahoe. Two compact electric motors combine with an automatic transmission and a V8. They will be able to run as all-electric, all-gasoline, or a combination of the two, depending on the power demands. To save additional fuel, four of the V8's cylinders shut down when their power isn't needed, as in steady-speed cruising.

Dodge Durango/Chrysler Aspen

Dodge Durango
2009 Dodge Durango hybrid
Expected in: 2008
The truck-based Durango will be offered with a hybrid drivetrain for the 2009 model year. The Durango powertrain will likely be similar to the GM two-mode system that parent DaimlerChrysler helped develop. Fitted with a 5.7-liter V8, the current Durango has about the worst fuel economy--12 mpg--of any SUV CR has tested.

Dodge Ram


2009 Dodge Ram Hybrid
Expected in: 2010
The Dodge Ram will have a two-mode hybrid system similar to the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen hybrids. It will feature Chrysler's Multi-displacement system, which allows the engine to alternate between the four-cylinder mode and the HEMI V8 engine when more power is needed.

Ford Edge

Ford Edge
2008 Ford Edge
Expected in: 2009 (tentative)
Derived from the Mazda6 sedan platform, the Ford Edge crossover debuted in the 2007 model year. It will be eventually joined by a hybrid version during the 2008-2010 timeframe. The likely powertrains are either a version of the Escape's four-cylinder engine, or the 3.5-liter V6 expected to also motivate the Taurus hybrid.

Ford Taurus

Ford Five Hundred
2008 Ford Taurus
Expected in: 2009 (tentative)
The Ford Five Hundred was renamed the Taurus for 2008. This large sedan is offered in front- and all-wheel-drive versions, The ride is comfortable and the interior is spacious--particularly in the rear seat--but power from the 3.0-liter V6 is unimpressive. The full-hybrid version will probably use a different engine, likely based on the newer, more powerful Duratec35 V6.

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion
2008 Ford Fusion
Expected in: 2008
Midsized, midpriced five-seaters, the Ford Fusion and its Mercury Milan counterpart are expected to adapt a version of the hybrid system used for the Escape. Both the Fusion and Escape use 2.3-liter four-cylinder engines, giving insight to the likely sedan package. The Escape offers a combined output of 155 hp.

Lincoln MKX

Lincoln MKX
2008 Lincoln MKX
Introduction 2010 (tentative)
The car-based MKX crossover SUV shares mechanical lineage with the Lincoln MKZ and progenitor Mazda6 sedan. By 2009, the MKX is expected to join the hybrid ranks with an electric-supplemented 3.5-liter V6.

Mercury Milan

Mercury Milan
2007 Mercury Milan
Expected in: 2008
A midsized, midpriced five-seater, the Milan is a virtual twin of the Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr as its siblings. As with the Fusion, the Milan is expected to be offered with a full-hybrid powertrain derived from the Ford Escape Hybrid. The Escape features a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 155 horsepower with electric assistance.

Mercury Montego

Mercury Montego
2007 Mercury Montego
Expected in: 2009 (tentative)
Like its sibling the Taurus, the large Montego sedan is destined for future powerplant upgrades. The current 203-hp, 3.0-liter V6 is expected to be supplanted by a more powerful 250-hp, 3.5-liter V6 for 2007. A hybrid version is expected to follow. Though Ford has not committed on the record, insiders suggest this new engine could be the basis for a hybrid model.

Porsche Cayenne


2008 Porsche Cayenne
Expected in: 2010
Based on the Cayenne V6, the hybrid version will be configured with the battery unit positioned below the luggage compartment, and the hybrid module, comprised of an additional clutch and electric motor, is between the engine and transmission. Depending on driving conditions, the hybrid module can disengage either the combustion engine or the electric motor or can combine both drive systems as one joint power unit.