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'Green Car Journal' announces 2009 Green Car of the Year

The Volkswagen Jetta TDI wins the Green Car of the Year award at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.

VW Jetta TDI
VW Jetta TDI gets on stage to accept its award. CBS Interactive

LOS ANGELES--The Green Car Journal gave its 2009 Green Car of the Year award to the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. This year's list of nominees included the BMW 335d, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid, and Smart ForTwo. The Jetta TDI uses a 2-liter, turbocharged, diesel, four-cylinder engine to achieve an EPA-rated 41mpg highway fuel economy and 30mpg city. Volkswagen's new clean diesel technology makes the car legal in all 50 states, meeting California's stringent Air Resources Board requirements, under which is qualifies as a SULEV, or Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. The panel of judges included Jay Leno, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, and legendary auto tuner Carroll Shelby.

Ford Fusion Hybrid
The Ford Fusion Hybrid gets left out in the cold. Corinne Schulze/CBS Interactive

Green Car Journal opened itself up for criticism last year by naming the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid as its 2008 Green Car of the Year. Diesel proponents will applaud the choice of the Jetta TDI for 2009, but the two hybrids on the list, with AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) emissions ratings, might seem more deserving. The Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid probably didn't make it due to fuel economy hovering around 30mpg, but the Ford Fusion Hybrid has an estimated economy of 38mpg city and 35mpg highway, plus a very cool instrument cluster that coaches people to drive more economically. The judges were most likely swayed by the price, with the Jetta TDI coming in at below $22,000, while the Fusion Hybrid will most likely come in above $27,000.

See all coverage of the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.