Vehicle fuel economy and gas prices are up, while consumer fuel consumption is down, and the road keeps getting a little bit greener with each new model year. But standout fuel efficiency alone is not enough to win a spot on kbb.com’s annual 10 Best Green Cars list. Kbb.com’s editors also weighed factors like value, features and comfort in putting together this year’s collection of exceptional efficiency experts.
“With the rollercoaster of gas prices affecting consumer buying habits and pressure from the government to produce more environmentally friendly new-vehicle fleets, auto manufacturers are responding with more robust offerings in the ‘Green Car’ segment than ever before,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com. “After driving and testing nearly every new vehicle available on the market today, our annual kbb.com 10 Best Green Cars list provides a roadmap for consumers who are looking for a new car to not only help save money on fuel expenses, but also to help save the Earth.”
Top 10 Green Cars of 2012:
1. 2012 Toyota Prius c
The c is the smallest member of the growing Prius family, which includes the familiar hatchback that is synonymous with hybrids, a larger wagon, and a plug-in model. The budget-friendly c offers up to 53 mpg in city driving, seating for five, and more cargo space than its subcompact dimensions might suggest. It all adds up to make Prius c the perfect choice for those seeking a practical, inexpensive, stylish way to save fuel.
2. 2012 Nissan LEAF
According to the EPA the Nissan LEAF has a rated range of 73 all-electric miles, and Nissan has told us it will go more than 100 miles on a single charge. That turns on our inner tech geek, while its starting price of around $35,000 reaches out to our pragmatic side. And above all else, it’s made from recycled materials from old cars, home appliances and plastic bottles, which quite frankly, awakens our inner tree hugger.
3. 2012 Mitsubishi i
The newest all-electric car on the block is also the least expensive and has the best mile per gallon equivalent of them all at 112 MPGe. Starting at $29,125 less destination – or $21,625 when factoring in the federal tax credit incentive – the Mitsubishi i has room for four passengers, a 62-mile range rating and a small size that helps it slip into even the tightest spots.
4. 2012 Chevrolet Volt
With its small gasoline engine on standby to generate electricity should the batteries run out of juice, the Volt conquers “range anxiety” and makes for a car that can be filled with gas at a pump and electricity from an outlet. Sleek looks inside and out, plus room for four passengers and cargo complete the package.
5. 2012 Honda Civic
The Honda Civic has long been the vanilla ice cream of compact sedans; it’s easy to fall back on due to its remarkable reliability and exceptional value. But for 2012, the Civic has evolved into more of a Neapolitan as it presents a choice of three different engine types: gasoline, natural gas and hybrid gas/electric. Considering all of them achieve close to 40 highway mpg, the Civic is an excellent choice no matter what flavor you pick.
6. 2012 Volkswagen Passat
This version of VW’s midsize sedan is further proof of how clean and green diesels have become. The Passat’s turbocharged diesel engine provides up to 43 mpg and the kind of power that makes passing a pleasure, all without the puttering and belching of diesels from decades ago.
7. 2012 Lexus CT 200h
While exceptional fuel efficiency is a hybrid’s primary objective, the Lexus CT 200h provides a fun-to-drive factor that few hybrids can equal. The CT 200h combines Lexus’ award-winning quality with impressive fuel economy, dynamic handling and luxurious amenities at an enticing sub-$30,000 starting price.
8. 2012 Hyundai Elantra
The elusive 40 mpg mark is hit and miss for non-hybrid cars, but for the 2012 Hyundai Elantra it’s an easy target. The Elantra obtains 40 highway mpg in all trim levels thanks to its fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine, all while looking good in its wavy sheet metal and offering value with its low entry price.
9. Chevrolet Malibu Eco
While recent non-hybrid compact cars are notorious for flirting with the 40 mpg mark, conventional midsize sedans continue to hover in the mid-30s. The new Malibu seemingly bridges the efficiency gap between the two categories with eAssist, a system that conserves fuel by using a small lithium-ion battery to supplement the engine, along with regenerative braking and start-stop technology.
10. 2012 Scion iQ
Who says hybrid drivetrains, alternative fuel systems or expensive gas-saving technologies are prerequisites for green cars? When it comes to vehicle production and conserving the world’s natural resources, significantly fewer materials are required to build a Scion iQ thanks to its petite dimensions, lightweight design and efficient 1.3-liter gasoline engine.