With gasoline prices on the sky-high again, many drivers are turning to green cars with high mileage to solve their commuting woes.
Unlike when oil reached its all-time highs during the recession of 2008, today’s green - car market has more options with better fuel efficiency. The editors of Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com,the website of the country’s largest automotive valuation company, highlight the wide range of options available and the trend both towards hybrid, electric and “high-efficiency gasoline powered-vehicles.” Since these vehicles cost less than hybrids and electrics, KBB.com expects them to sell well with the price of gas now around $4 a gallon.
To help consumers understand the best options in the current market for green cars, KBB.com recently unveiled its 2011 “Green Car List”, which ranks cars by their MPG or MPG-equivalent, along with other characteristics that make the cars good to own.
So, what are the top green cars this year? Click ahead to find out!
By Paul Toscano
Posted 15 April 2011
Gas mileage: 31 mpg (28 city/38 highway)
The 2012 Ford Focus makes it on the list because of its mpressive fuel economy, excellent handling and well-outfitted interior, European styling and the availability of features like Ford’s Sync entertainment and communications system. There is also an option to equip the Focus with Ford’s auto-park feature, says KBB.com.
Gas mileage: 33 mpg (30 city/38 highway)
Returning to the US market after a 27-year hiatus, Fiat vehicles are expected by KBB.com to offer a much better driving experience. The editors point out that the car is smaller and less powerful than a Mini Cooper but offers more personality than a Toyota Yaris. “The Fiat 500 offers a new combination of European heritage and sub-compact practicality,” they say.
Gas mileage: 33 mpg (29 city, 40 highway)
“There are now a few non-hybrid compact cars that deliver highway fuel economy of at least 40 miles per gallon, but the 2011 Hyundai Elantra is the only one that does so in every trim,” says KBB.com. “In addition to the impressive efficiency, we’re fans of the all-new Elantra’s bold sheet metal, stylish interior and attractive list of standard and optional features."
Gas mileage: 34 mpg (30 city/42 highway)
KBB.com editors have been long-time fans of the VW Golf for its “European driving feel, hatchback utility and interior quality that outclasses anything else in its class.” They say that with the automaker’s 2.0-liter , turbo-diesel engine, it retains great acceleration but also offers an estimated 42 highway miles per gallon
Gas mileage: 39 mpg (41 city/36 highway)
The Ford Fusion makes the list because of its EPA-estimated fuel economy of 39 mpg. “In addition to its outstanding fuel economy, we also like that it delivers the driving dynamics and comfort that make the conventional Fusion so endearing, including SYNC and navigation, with the addition of a really cool LCD gauge cluster,” says KBB.com.
Gas mileage: 41 mpg (40 city/43 highway)
Calling it “the most affordable hybrid on the market,” KBB.com notes the Honda Insight costs some $1,000 less than last year’s model, with a maximum price of $24,000 with additional features. “Above all else,” say the editors , “the Insight’s 41-mpg combined fuel economy rating qualifies it is as the third most fuel-efficient hybrid on the road.”
Gas mileage: 42 mpg (43 city, 40 highway)
KBB.com describes the 2011 Lexus CT 200h as a “sporty, little premium hatchback.”
“It’s only as quick as a Toyota Prius, but it’s otherwise responsive and athletic. Put it in Sport mode and you may just forget you’re driving a hybrid as you navigate twisting back roads in the newest and most affordable Lexus,” says KBB.com.
Gas mileage: 50 mpg (51 city, 48 highway)
Described by KBB.com as “The original hybrid for the masses,” the Toyota Prius is still the segment’s “heavyweight” when it comes to miles per gallon.
“Whereas some efficiency-focused cars require an adjustment in driving habits to wring the most out of the vehicle’s fuel-saving technologies, the Prius allows you to drive as you normally would and still see mpg returns that you can brag about during your semi-regular visits to the gas station,” they say.
Gas mileage: 93 mpg equivalent
According to the specs for the car, the first 35 miles of a drive is powered by an electric motor. After the electric reserves are exhausted, the car’s gas engine extends the range for 379 miles.
“Some argue the all-electric Nissan Leaf is greener,” KBB.com points out, “Volt fans point to their car’s superior range. We can recommend both, depending on the needs and desires of the buyer. As a bonus, the Volt looks like a tasteful vision of the future – inside and out – and is one of the most fun electrically driven cars we’ve driven so far.”
Gas mileage: 99 mpg equivalent
“With a groundbreaking combination of range, room and price, the Nissan Leaf is the first all-electric car for the masses,” says KBB.com. “The EPA says the Leaf will deliver 73 miles per charge and the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon. But that’s not the only thing green about the Leaf: recycled materials made from home appliances, old car parts and plastic bottles are used extensively throughout the vehicle.” KBB adds, however, that "the limited range disqualifies the Leaf as an option for some drivers, but for those who can swing it, the Nissan Leaf is the real deal,”