The below article is from the London Times.....http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/tol...cle3251170.ece
January 25, 2008
Why the 4x4 is green and many shades of brown
THE modern 4x4 is the whipping boy of the motoring world, a scapegoat for enviro-friendly tree-huggers, London Mayors, and smug drivers of “greener” cars. In fact the much-maligned 4x4 is an innocent party in all of this. Far less polluting than its largely ignorant critics claim, in the rainy, farming part of the UK where I and millions of others live, the 4x4 is not a shiny ego-driven lifestyle choice but a mud-spattered vehicle of necessity.
Critics say 4x4s are too big for our roads. They are wrong. The very popular Toyota Rav4 takes up less space on the road than the average five-door hatch. No self-respecting attack on 4x4s gets by without the words “gas-guzzling”. Wrong again. The Rav4 returns more than 40mpg, better than many small family cars.
Another factually flawed nail in the 4x4 coffin is that they are bad for the environment. In fact, manufacturers of these cars are in many cases leading the technological charge towards more environmentally friendly transport.
Land Rover’s just unveiled LRX Concept has the potential to cut CO2 emissions below the much-vaunted 120g/km level, using lightweight materials and hybrid technology. It is working on the technology for a 4x4 that will cut fuel consumption by a third using a hybrid diesel engine and electric motors in town, and which automatically turns its engine off at traffic lights.
Land Rover also runs the biggest carbon offset initiative of its type, allowing customers to buy into a scheme as part of their purchase.
The Lexus RX 400h already uses hybrid technology. Winner of the Green 4x4 Gold Award from 4X4 and MPV Driver magazine, the 400h has two electric motors for quiet, emission-free town driving, and a 3.3 litre V6 petrol engine, giving a top speed of 124mph, a 0-60mph time of under 8 seconds, yet a combined fuel consumption of about 35mpg and a very low – for its size – CO2 output of 192g/km.
Of course small, two-wheel-drive cars are fine, and there are some wonderful low-emission, fuel-efficient examples around, such as the closely related Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo. But an Aygo will not tow a horsebox or carry several bales of hay, ten bags of sheep nuts and two sheepdogs up a muddy, rutted track in the middle of January. Nor will it carry a family of seven and their luggage.
Of course not every 4x4 is that easy to recognise and hate. Audi has long recognised the safety value of permanent all-wheel-drive, and Skoda, part of the same group as Audi, also has an all-wheel-drive car, the Octavia Scout.
But will the 4x4 haters attack it? Of course not. Even though the Scout is a 4x4, it looks like an ordinary car, it is cheap, does not excite envy, is unpretentious and modest and so is under their radar.
Which is why critics of 4x4s should come clean, and admit that most of their criticism is ill-advised and ill-informed, and driven more by envy and outdated class hatred that anything to do with saving the planet or decluttering our streets.