Award season is kicking into high gear with the announcement of the finalists for 2011 Green Car of the Year.
As expected, the two main contenders are the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The Volt, as you're undoubtedly aware, has a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor which produces 149 hp (111 kW / 151 PS) and 273 lb-ft (368 Nm) of torque. While official efficiency data hasn't been released, the Volt can travel 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80 km) on electricity alone. When the battery is depleted, a 1.4-liter petrol engine acts as a generator to extend the range up to 310 miles (499 km).
The Leaf, on the other hand, is a pure electric vehicle that features an electric motor with 107 hp (80 kW / 109 PS) and 206 lb-ft (280 Nm) of torque. It can travel up to 99 miles (160 kilometers), before requiring an eight hour stint at the nearest electric outlet.
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has a 169 hp (126 kW / 171 PS) 2.4-liter petrol engine and a 40 hp (30-kW / 41 PS) electric motor. It is expected to return an EPA-estimated 37 mpg city/ 39 mpg highway.
If you like eco-friendliness with a splash of luxury, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid boasts a 2.5-liter engine and an electric motor which put out a combined 188 hp (140 kW / 191 PS). In terms of efficiency, expect 41 mpg city / 36 mpg highway.
Lastly, the final nominee is the Ford Fiesta. With its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 120 hp (89 kW / 122 PS) and 112 lb-ft (152 Nm) of torque, the Fiesta returns up to 29 mpg city / 40 hwy mpg highway.
Jurors such as Carl Pope (chairman of the Sierra Club), Jean-Michel Cousteau (president of Ocean Futures Society), Jay Leno, and Carroll Shelby will help pick the winner. Top honors will be announced on November 18th, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, so stay tuned.