eco friendly cars come in all shapes and sizes now that hybrid and battery-powered technology have caught up with consumer wants and needs. You no longer have to sacrifice size or comfort when it comes to selecting an environmentally-conscious ride, with even luxury brands jumping into the hybrid game.
Eco friendly means different things to different people. For some, it's all about using less fuel to get from point A to point B, while for others it's focused on reducing tailpipe emissions to zero, or near-zero. Let's take a look at a 10 of the best eco friendly cars and get a feel for the diversity that is out there waiting on the modern market.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 01 - 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid
The 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid is the very first battery-assisted automobile to be built by the Japanese premium brand. The Acura ILX Hybrid is aimed at budget-conscious shoppers seeking an upscale compact car that uses as little fuel as possible while still delivering an engaging driving experience. The sedan borrows Honda's Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system, which means a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine that works together with a single electric motor to produce 11 horsepower. Fuel mileage for the efficiency Acura is listed at 39-mpg in stop and go driving and 38-mpg on the highway.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 02 - 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid - all-new for the current model year - has been wowing mid-size luxury shoppers with its gaudy fuel mileage figures since the first-generation model was introduced. Stylish and comfortable, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid returns fuel efficiency of 45-mpg in city driving and 45-mpg on the highway. This is better than the much smaller Acura, despite producing a hefty 188 horsepower from an electric motor / 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine pairing. The MKZ Hybrid can also be counted on to offer higher performance than many vehicles in its class, making it an all-around win for eco-conscious drivers.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 03 - 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid
The 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid is an old stand-by in the eco friendly car space, a family sedan with an electric edge that provides better efficiency than its gas-only counterpart without sacrificing any of the qualities that have made the standard Camry a segment leader. The Toyota Camry Hybrid leverages Toyota's in-depth gasoline/electric know-how to produce 200 peak horsepower from its 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and a battery-assisted motor. Acceleration is brisker than that of the base four-cylinder Camry, and a host of luxury items such as heated leather seats and a navigation system can also be loaded into the Camry Hybrid.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 04 - 2013 Ford Fusion Energi
The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi represents the very first plug-in hybrid variant of the car company's volume-selling mid-size sedan. Based on the already-popular Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Ford Fusion Energi adds the extra wrinkle of a larger battery that allows it to travel as far as 21 miles on a single charge before having to activate its gasoline engine. When operating in standard hybrid model the Fusion Energy also delivers 47-mpg around town and 47-mpg on the highway. Total horsepower for the Fusion Energi is rated at 188, but the price premium for plugging in the Fusion is steep, with an $8,000 increase in price for the Energi model over the base Hybrid.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 05 - 2013 Chevrolet Volt
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt is an 'extended-range' eco friend car that can function as both a zero-emissions vehicle or a more traditional hybrid. The Chevrolet Volt's electric motor does roughly 99 percent of the heavy lifting when it comes to motivating the compact hatchback, and when fully charged from either a 110-v or a 220-v wall socket the Volt can travel as far as 50 miles before its battery must be replenished. Of course, if it's not convenient to stop and top-up the Volt after its electric-only range has been exhausted then one can rely on the gas motor providing an additional 300 miles of driving. 149 horsepower are available from the Volt's complex hybrid drivetrain.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 06 - 2013 Nissan Leaf
The 2013 Nissan LEAF is a true zero emissions vehicle a compact car that doesn't produce any greenhouse gases of its own due to its pure electric design. The Nissan Leaf's drivetrain consists of a 107 horsepower motor that is powered solely by a battery. The battery can be plugged into a wall in order to be recharged, and once full it provides close to 75 miles of driving before it's time to find another socket. The Nissan Leaf is available in a number of different trim levels, and its low-feature base model offers a relatively affordable entry point into the world of electric-only motoring.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 07 - 2013 Toyota Prius PHEV
The 2013 Toyota Prius PHEV, or 'Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle,' is essentially identical to the regular Toyota Prius hybrid, with a few notable exceptions. The larger battery that has been outfitted to the Toyota Prius PHEV means that it enjoys a greatly extended electric-only range compared to the standard Prius (roughly 15 miles). The PHEV is also capable of being recharged in about 3 hours using a 110-volt power outlet, which makes it easy to replenish its electrical charge and minimize the use of gasoline whenever possible. Power remains the same - 134 horses from a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that woks together with two electric motors - and fuel mileage for the Prius PHEV is rated at 51-mpg in city driving and 49-mpg on the highway.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 08 - 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid is the first gasoline / electric production model from the German automaker, and it provides a surprising amount of performance to go along with its garish fuel mileage numbers. Although considerably more expensive than the gas-only Jetta, the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid features a turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine matched with a single electric motor to produce up to 170 horsepower. Performance is enhanced via the use of a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, making the Jetta Hybrid relatively engaging to drive. As mentioned above, fuel efficiency figures for the compact sedan are impressive, showing as 42-mpg in stop and go driving and 48-mpg on the highway.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 09 - 2013 Tesla Model S
The 2013 Tesla Model S is another zero emissions model, this one targeting luxury shoppers looking for a high performance, yet eco friendly car. The Tesla Model S is a sleek-looking sedan that starts at just under $70,000. Base versions of the car provide 235 horsepower, while top-tier editions step up to 416 horsepower (all based on the capacity of their respective battery packs). From a range perspective, the Tesla Model S can travel over 100 miles on a single charge at the lower end of the scale and crest 265 miles when looking at the quickest version of the car. The 416 horsepower model is also capable of sprinting to 60-mph in a scant 4.3 seconds.
Best Eco Friendly Cars - 10 - 2013 Ford Focus Electric
The 2013 Ford Focus Electric takes the skin and bones of the compact hatchback and replaces its gas-powered innards with an electric-only drivetrain. 143 horsepower are on tap from the Ford Focus Electric's electric motor, which is matched with a battery system that delivers 76 miles of usable range prior to needing a four-hour recharge. One of the best things about the Ford Focus Electric is that it maintains the smart and responsive suspension setup of the standard Focus, which gives it a handling advantage over more staid EV models like the Nissan Leaf.