Top 5 Eco-friendly Cars

Looking to drive—literally—energy efficiency? Check out these lean, green machines.

March 18 2013 by William J. Holstein and Bill Visnic

Teutonic Torque: 2013 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec

It’s not until you drive a contemporary, diesel-powered car that you understand the outright regal superiority of the diesel engine German engineers so famously revere. With diesel, it’s not about the horsepower; it’s about the torque. Torque is the prime component of acceleration, and even comparatively small diesel engines have torque in abundance.

Once you become accustomed to the brief moment of acceleration “lag” required for the engine’s turbocharger to get up to cruising speed (oh, just a couple hundred thousand rpm), the rest is pure bliss, as that giant wave of torque propels Mercedes’ large and dense S350 BlueTec as if it weighs no more than a pedal car.

Contrary to the popular myth that diesels are noisy, you don’t hear a thing because what little “clatter” does emerge from this high-tech engine is summarily negated by clever sound-abatement engineering and the kind of general isolation from the world’s annoyances you would expect from the flagship of the Mercedes-Benz fleet. Meanwhile, the inherent efficiency of the S350 BlueTec’s engine, combined with the 15-odd percent more energy in diesel fuel, results in galaxy-class driving range and real-world fuel economy that would shame many economy cars. We call that a win-win.