2009 Jetta TDI

2009 Green Car of the Year: Volkswagen Jetta TDI

At the L.A. Auto Show Thursday morning, the Green Car Journal jury voted the Volkswagen Jetta TDI the 2009 Green Car of the Year. The TDI "clean diesel" runs on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and uses a "common rail direct injection system" that decreases 95 percent of sooty diesel emissions.

The turbocharged diesel sedan bested a field that included two hybrids and the trendy Smart ForTwo. Though it garnered respectable fuel-efficiency ratings from the EPA, 31 mpg city/40 mpg highway, the TDI won the award because it achieved "the kind of fuel efficiency offered by gasoline-electric hybrids but in a more affordable way," Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal, said in a press release.

The TDI’s win was a bit of an upset for the Ford Fusion hybrid camp, who thought the win was in the bag. Yours truly was pulling for the über-cute, if über unlikely, Smart ForTwo — crossing my fingers for the EV version in 2012.