The flagship car of the anti-smog movement
The Subaru Legacy lineup includes a conventionally-powered yet environmentally-friendly model whose sole visual giveaway is a four-letter badge on the trunk lid —PZEV.
This acronym, which stands for "Partial Zero Emission Vehicle," is used by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to identify a class of vehicles that generate little to no pollution. Since they meet the toughest emission standards in North America, you might even say they’re almost as clean as the purely-electric Nissan Leaf.
The battle against NOx and VOCs
All gasoline engines reject nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), such as exhaust gases and fuel vapors, into the atmosphere. These public enemies are responsible for smog, which represents a major health concern worldwide.
In Canada, 59 percent of all NOx emissions and 27 percent of VOC emissions come from transportation, including all road vehicles, boats and planes. In California, it’s even worse. CARB therefore came up with a classification for automobiles based on their emission levels with the ultimate goal of promoting carbon-neutral travel.
A cleaner Legacy
Subaru now claims that the 2010 Legacy PZEV produces 90 percent fewer VOCs than a regular Legacy 2.5i even though its 4-cylinder boxer engine is just as powerful and fuel-thirsty!
Heck, the Average Joe could drive the PZEV for years without realizing what’s going on. You have to really, really pay attention to notice the brief and subtle knock of the valves during cold starts, especially in low temperatures. Other than that, it’s the same exact story.
They may not hear or feel anything different, but potential buyers will surely scratch their heads when they find out that the Legacy PZEV, at $26,395, requires a premium of $2,400 over the base model. After all, similar fuel economy ratings mean no savings at the pump.
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