A longtime friend of mine, let's call her Jen, is a children's book illustrator and genuine tree-hugger. She has a farmette in the foothills back East and likes to hike and ski, with her two dogs along for the ride. Her personal values are as green as they get. But a Prius doesn't work for her, let alone anything that plugs in. So what did she buy a couple of years ago when it was time for a new car? A Jeep Cherokee. She didn't really cross-shop. "I need a Jeep," was what it came down to in Jen's mind.
She realized it burned more gas than she'd like to burn in an ideal world. She compartmentalizes her eco-ethics as far as car buying is concerned. So when considering her choices she just focused on the usual options and price. The idea that she might help the environment by cross-shopping — among similarly equipped competing vehicles or even among Cherokee trims that get a few more mpg — didn't cross her mind. Why should it? Gasoline prices were back below $3 a gallon. Other than the cacophony about Tesla and other electric cars — fascinating, perhaps, but irrelevant as far as her needs were concerned — little in the automotive mediascape spoke to how vehicle choices might matter for the planet.