Price, range, efficiency and style all play a part in deciding whether to drive hybrid or electric. Options range from cute and compact to elaborate and expensive. Driving green doesn’t always mean you have to look like it, but it depends on your preference and pocketbook. Here’s a review of five electric and hybrid cars that fall into nearly every category.
Honda Insight (Hybrid)
When it was introduced in 2009, the Honda Insight was hailed as real competition to the Toyota Prius. It boasted a 40-mpg-plus fuel-efficiency, and cost less than $20,000 a price that fell nearly $2,000 below the least expensive Prius, according to Hybridcars.com. Toyota fought back by lowering its Prius price, but Honda didn’t give up. In 2012, the Insight saw updates that included minor changes to exterior and interior styling, and a slight increase in fuel economy. Now this hybrid starts at $18,300 with 41 city/44 highway/42 combined EPA-approved MPG. It touts the shape that’s begun to define hybrid and electric vehicles: a smooth front four-door hatchback with a high, short tail.
2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV (Electric)
The iMiEV came straight from a comic book, or so it seems. Its egg-shaped design is known to turn heads and elicit smiles. This cute car proudly putters around as an affordable, available, all-electric coupe. Before incentives, the iMiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) starts at $29,125. Its rating of 125 city/99 highway/112 combined MPGe surpasses all but two EVs in the combined MPGe category of the EPA’s rankings of most fuel-efficient electric 2013 models. Listed in the Guinness World Records as the first electric car to eclipse 10,000 sales, the iMiEV is a popular and reliable choice.
2012 Nissan Leaf (Electric)
Promoted as “the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car,” the Nissan LEAF has been a media star electric car since it was introduced in 2011, according to Hybridcars.com. Available at sales lots from Boston to Peoria car dealerships, this sensible solution offers a fuel-efficient, distinctly-designed option combined with a pleasant driving experience promise. It is an exclusive model, meaning it is not an electrified version of a gas-powered car like the Ford Focus Electric. Not necessarily categorized as “cute” nor is it luxurious, the LEAF is an affordable option for an average green driver. Starting at $35,200 before incentives, the LEAF has an EPA electric driving range rating of 73 miles per charge. It garners 106 city/92 highway and 99 combined MPGe.
Tesla Model S (Electric)
Pricier than the average electric car, the Tesla Model S is also nicer than most. Its clean design, use of space and gorgeous interior make it a tempting choice, though not for most mainstream buyers. Tagged at $52,400 after a $7,500 federal tax credit, the 60 kWh version has an EPA-approved combined MPGe of 95. According to Hybridcars.com, it has an estimated range of 160 miles per charge. The 85 kWh Model S Performance version, which includes upgraded interior, suspension and wheels, will set you back $87,400 after the tax credit. It gets 89 combined MPGe.
2012 Fisker Karma (Hybrid)
Undeniably one of the most lavish options in the market, the Fisker Karma is the hybrid choice of Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber. Unfortunately for those two celebrities and the other 2,000 Fisker Karma owners, the car was recalled in August because of a small cooling fan fire, according to the LA Times. Don’t worry, though. The car company has plans to replace the cooling fans and possibly launch a less pricey second model soon. The current model starts at $111,000 and gathers 20 city/21 highway/20 combined EPA-approved MPG, 54 MPGe and 22 miles in electric range.