Newer hybrids emphasize engine muscle instead of fuel efficiency

Some of the newest hybrid car models are not notably more fuel-efficient than their conventional brethren, but still qualify buyers for a “clean fuels” tax credit, causing greens no end of mixed feelings. In the case of the Honda Accord, the 2005 hybrid model uses electric-motor technology to boost the car’s power rather than significantly reduce fuel consumption and save gasoline — testing by Consumer Reports indicates that it gets about the same miles per gallon as the conventional Accord. Oil-phobic activists are guarded in dissing the power-happy hybrids, since their growing popularity motivates automakers to improve hybrid technology. But they’d like to see the government get a little more selective about which hybrids qualify for tax benefits. Honda, meanwhile, points out that it does offer hybrid cars that emphasize gas savings over power — for those who want them.