Environmentally-friendly cars have gone mainstream. While there will always be a place for low-mileage gas-guzzlers, the average American has spoken – with their greenbacks – and declared that, yes, we do care about this planet.
Car information and value company Kelley Blue Book recently released its list of top 10 green cars for 2013. The editors drew upon their extensive experience and reviews of today’s alternative powertrain vehicles to compile the listing. Says Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for KBB.com: “A growing number of both eco-conscious drivers are going ‘Green’ when it comes to the new car they choose to drive, and auto manufacturers have primed the pump with the widest array of offerings in the ‘Green Car’ segment than ever before.”
There are some notable changes since last year’s list. Rolling up to the number 10 spot is the all-new 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. KBB says that while the name badge of Ford’s premium/entry-level lux brand still conveys tradition, the sedan itself is all-modern. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 45 mpg city/45 mpg highway/45 mpg combined.
Also brand new is the 2013 Toyota Avalon. This is the first hybrid for the model line-up, which is well-known for its interior comforts. Number nine in this countdown has an EPA-estimated fuel economy’s 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway/40 mpg combined.
Silently cruising to the number eight slot is the 2013 Honda Fit EV. This lease-only hatchback has one of the highest fuel economy numbers for a pure-electric, receiving an EPA-estimated 132 mpge city/105 mpge highway/118 mpge combined. (Mpge is miles-per-gallon-equivalent.) Range between charges is 82 miles, also an impressive figure.
Like the Avalon (see above), the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid is the first hybrid to the venerable lineup. KBB considers the hybrid Jetta to be a triple-threat: fun-to-drive, fuel efficacy of 45 mpg combined, and a starting price under $26,000. The rest number seven’s EPA-estimated fuel economy is 42 mpg city and 48 mpg highway.
The 2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in electric vehicle, or PHEV, is a rare vehicle, says KBB. Why? It’s apparently fun to drive, a trait not usually associated with non-gas powered cars. The number six PHEV gets an EPA-estimated 100 mpge when traveling on pure electricity during the first 21 miles. After the potent gas engine and electric motor combo kicks on, EPA-estimated fuel economy becomes 44 mpg city/41 mpg highway/43 mpg combined.
The 2013 Toyota Prius PHEV, at number five, just barely edged past the C-Max Energi. How’d it do it? Well, we can tell you it’s not the 11 miles range on strict battery power. No, it’s more likely the EPA-estimated fuel economy of 51 mpg city/49 mpg/50 mpg.
Want to know what would happen if you add a gas engine to recharge the batteries of an electric car? You get number four, the 2013 Chevrolet Volt. Estimated mpge of the coupe is 98 and an electricity-only range of 38 miles. Fuel figures after the engine starts to recharge the battery is 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway/37 mpg combined.
The 2013 Ford Focus Electric takes the third-place trophy in the KBB list. Advantages claim the editors include the advanced powertrain, liquid-cooled lithium ion battery, and that fun-to-drive factor. EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers are 110 mpge city/99 mpge highway/105 mpge combined. Range is 76 miles.
The 2013 Tesla Model S electrifies in the number two slot. The reasons are obvious: 265-mile range, power (420 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque in the Performance trim), and drop-dead gorgeous looks. Fuel economy figures (for those who still care) are 88 mpge city/90 mpge highway/89 mpge combined.
Is it really a shock that the Nissan Leaf, again, topped KBB’s list? While other green vehicles surpass it specific categories like range or fuel economy, the Leaf has them beat as an overall package of greenish delight. The automaker recently dropped the price of EV: you can now purchase for around $22,000.