A few years ago, the media went bananas when GM announced the upcoming Volt hybrid would get an astonishing 230 mpg. In reality, they were doing some creative calculus, and using the automakers rigged formula, the Volt could theoretically achieve infinite miles per gallon. This spring, the annual Eco Marathon showcase allowed engineers to show off super cars that could drive from Rotterdam to Moscow on just a few gallons of gas. These cars really could hit upwards of 1,000 mpg, but they could never, ever (ever) be mass produced for consumer use. And that so-called “Eco Marathon”? Sponsored by an oil company. And, of course, we all had our collective dreams dashed when 2015 came and the flying cars of “Back to the Future 2″ were still nowhere to be seen.
So, IRL, what are the best green cars that are actually road ready in 2015? If you ask 10 auto bloggers what the best green car is any given year, then you’ll get 20 different answers. Even so, we’ve done our best to narrow down the field. For anyone in the market for a hybrid or electric car this year, here are some of the “Top Green Cars of 2015″:
Best New Green Car: the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf
Range: 83 miles of electric range
In choosing their green car of the year for 2015, Green Car Reports said there are two types of green cars — “revolutionary” and “evolutionary” vehicles. A revolutionary green car radically pushes the envelope, like the 2012 Toyota Prius. Evolutionary cars represent a smaller technological step, but a giant leap in value for drivers. This year, the website chose the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf as their “Best Car to Buy” (it won their readers’ poll as well). Even the regular 2015 VW Golf was rated at a combined 36 mpg in the United States, with many drivers reporting that it actually reaches up to 48 mpg.
Honorable Mention: The BMW i3 also topped a number of “Top Green Cars of 2015″ lists. Unlike certain other green cars (that shall remain nameless), the i3 can go from zero to 60 in seven seconds. Plus, it’s made in a factory powered by wind turbines and has 81 miles of electric range. But, let’s be real, not everyone can afford to drive a Beamer.
Best New Hybrid Car 2015: The 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid
MSRP: $29,305 – $35,055; EPA-estimated 50/45 city/highway mpg
Plenty of reviewers loved the BMW i3, VW’s e-Golf, and even the new 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, but not everyone lives in a state or city where it’s even possible to drive a purely electric car. If you’re looking for the best new hybrid car to hit the market in 2015, then the Honda Accord Hybrid is worth a test drive. Not only did U.S. News & World Report name the 2015 Accord their best hybrid of the year, they also ranked it the “#1 Affordable Midsize Car.” And you can trust U.S. News & World Report; they were making listicles way before it was cool.
Sadly, you’ve probably noticed that many “Best Of” and “Top This” lists of green cars throw accolades at high-performance vehicles that get great ratings, while also being completely out of most drivers’ price range. But if you want to see more hybrid cars on the road, then the new Honda is both green and affordable (with great safety ratings besides). And with the 2015 Accord Hybrid, Honda is finally catching up to rival carmakers in the race for better hybrid cars.
2015 Best Luxury Green Car: The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D
MSRP: From $105,000; 691 Horsepower
If you’ve got the money to go green and want high-performance at the same time, then the Tesla Model S P85D is top of the line. The 691 HP battery-electric luxury vehicle can go from zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds (allegedly). Reviewers have called this EV’s acceleration “ridiculous” and even “insane.” It can reach 89 mpg in the city and 98 on the highway. Plus, the new luxury EV from Tesla has two motors and all-wheel drive to boot.
Best Used Green Car: 2011 and 2012 Chevy Volt
Average Price Paid: $18,000
Of course, the best used car for your money might not be new at all. While some used hybrids and electric cars have a terrible resale value and you may be better off just donating your cars to charity, hybrids have been on the road long enough for consumers to find quality used models for sale. So if the $100,000 plus Tesla is a little out of your price range, then consider the 2011 or 2012 Chevy Volt for their superior resale value. For those looking for a hybrid car that costs less than $20,000, used Chevy Volts still feature about 35 mpg city and 40 mpg highway ratings. For families that only need room for four, the Volt has great safety ratings. It has a reliable electric-only range while the gas engine provides peace of mind for those afraid of getting stranded. Sure, it never quite lived up to its initial 230 mpg hype, but the Chevy Volt is still a great value.
Honorable Mentions for Best Used Hybrid Cars: the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the 2010 Toyota Prius