The Best Green Cars of 2015, According to Kelley Blue Book

best green cars 2015

Right now the greenest thing for me to do is to keep on driving the minivan I currently own, but I’d love to make my next car purchase as environmentally sound as possible— safety will also be a top priority.

But, well, having sexy lines and a smooth ride doesn’t hurt either.

Every year the expert editors at Kelley Blue Book rank the energy efficient standouts for efficiency, practicality and price. Which is such a cool statement to make: that there are enough energy efficient vehicles on the market now that they need to be sifted through and ranked. We’ve come such a long way!

“The list of ‘green’ vehicle standouts continues to blossom, and with strict Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements coming down the pipeline, auto manufacturers are making stronger advancements each year in creating more environmentally friendly vehicles,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. “Topping this list for the second year in a row is the BMW i3 – an electric car that can sprint to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds, and is made in a factory powered entirely by four wind turbines. And if 81 miles of electric range doesn’t work for you, the i3 can be had with a small gas generator that lets you go as far as there are gas stations.”

electric BMW

I’m a little surprised and disappointed that my wishlist car, the Model S, isn’t higher on the list. Get your act together, Tesla.

So, if you’re in the market for a “green” vehicle this year (you lucky thing, you!), here are the 10 BEST GREEN CARS OF 2015 as ranked by Kelley Blue Book:

  1. the all-electric BMW i3 (for the second year in a row)
  2. Volkswagon e-Golf
  3. Nissan Leaf
  4. Toyota Prius
  5. Honda Accord Hybrid
  6. Tesla Model S
  7. Chevrolet Volt
  8. Toyota Camry Hybrid
  9. Ford C-Max Hybrid
  10. Volkswagon Jetta TDI

You can check out KBB.com’s full editorial commentary for the 10 Best Green Cars of 2015, including fuel economy and range information for each model plus pricing.

If you were buying a “green” vehicle tomorrow— what would you choose?

 

 

Green Cars 2013: 7 Eco Vehicles that Earn This Hippy Housewife’s Seal of Approval

kid on motorcycle

C’mon Dad, give me the car tonight

-Violent Femmes

Jacob is 14, which means that in two years he will be driving, and what he will be driving is the minivan that I have been shamefacedly chauffeuring children in since 2004. It is a truth universally accepted that the worst part about finding out that you are pregnant with a 3rd child is that you will have to become a Minivan Mom.

More importantly, that means in two years Mom gets a new set of wheels. Look, I might be a hippie housewife but I know a hot car when I see one. Odds are, I won’t be able to afford any of the ‘green’ cars I’m about to show you, but that’s not going to stop me from window shopping. It’s good to have goals.

Here are the ‘green’ cars, hybrids, electric vehicles, and fuel-efficient models that I’d love to tool around town in. Let me know your favorite :)

(And yes, that’s Jake up there, on my friend Kristin’s motorcycle. Photo credit is all hers.)

 

fisker Karma surf

Fisker Karma Surf

I’m going to pledge loyalty to the Karma first, not just because that’s my puppy’s name, but because these will be produced here in Wilmington DE. Karmas are luxury vehicles, make no mistake. That low-slung growly-yet-elegant aspect (reminiscent of Jaguar) comes with a hefty price tag in the area of $100K.  It boasts a top speed of 125mph, going from 0-16 in 5.9. It has a range of 300 miles, 50 pure electric and another 250 on the range extender. The Surf has a BMW engine and is being marketed as “sports car meets station wagon,” but that phrase undermines just how damn sexy this car is.

 

tesla roadster

Tesla Model X Electric Crossover

The car pictured is actually the Tesla Roadster. I’ve made no secret of my love for the Roadster and its more ‘affordable’ version, the Model S. But since that’s not new I won’t bore you with it again.

The Tesla Model X Electric SUV Crossover is going to be unveiled on February 9, so I’ll have to come back and update at that time. However, some lucky ducks did get a sneak peak and this is what I’m seeing reported across the interwebz:

  • all-electric AWD 7-seater SUV
  • faster than a Porsche 911 and roomier than an Audi Q7
  • rumored to be available in late 2013, probably for the cost of a Porsche 911 & Audi Q7 put together.

 

honda accord coupe concept 2013

2013 Honda Accord coupe concept

The Honda coupe comes in three different powertrains:

  • an efficient, 2.4-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder
  • powerful 3.5-liter V-6
  • and a plug-in hybrid, all of which are expected to achieve class-leading fuel efficiency

It offers Lane Departure Warning (leaving your lane without a blinker on), Forward Collision Warning and the Honda-exclusive LaneWatch™ blind spot display: a camera system mounted on the mirror on the passenger side that allows you to view your blong spot. The new Accord will also have a rear view back-up camera.

It’s a fairly nice-looking car, I guess, but I suspect its strength will lie in the market of people already loyal to Hondas (I briefly drove a little Honda, until someone made a lefthand turn right in front of me while I was doing 50 on a rain-slicked road, an accident that 2-year-old Maverick and I walked away from unharmed). This is basically a car that people are comfortable with, only in eco-form; no sacrifices to style. Plus, there’s an abundance of Honda Accord parts out there, so presumably the basic costs of repair should be kept reasonable. If I do wind up buying something in this post, the Honda Accord hybrid is probably the best blend of eco-friendly car, wallet-friendly sticker price, and husband-approved profile.

 

electric pickup truck

E-REV Extended-Range Electric Truck from VIA Motors

It’s an electric vehicle for the tough truck-driving set, with “Better gas fuel economy than a Prius™ with the payload of a pickup.” Can be charged with a standard outlet, or faster with a 240 volt outlet or charging station. The vehicle only uses gas once you’ve drained the batteries: 40 miles on battery power and then up to another 300 miles. It also generates its own electricity, meaning you could use it for power when camping (or when the power goes out), or on a job site. Starting at $57,000.

 

2013 toyota prius

 

Toyota Prius c

OK, I don’t love the looks of a Prius, I admit it. I think the meh styling of the Prius is part of why hybrids didn’t take off right at the start. BUT the Prius c hatchback (c is for city) has advantages you can’t argue with:

  • 53 MPG city-driving, the highest city fuel economy of any car “without a plug”
  • the trusted Toyota name; the name Prius has pretty much proven itself, too.
  • starting MSRP under $19,000.

 

ford fusion 2013

 

2013 Ford Fusion

This is a pretty good-looking car, with design overtones of Audi. It will be available in gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid, which engine options including:

  • Standard 2.5L Duratec® I-4 engine
  • Available new 1.6L and 2.0L EcoBoost® engines (with Start-Stop system that turns the engine off when vehicle stops and restarts when you take your foot off the brake)
  • Available hybrid 2.0L I-4 Atkinson-cycle powertrain
  • Available plug-in hybrid electric 2.0L I-4 Atkinson-cycle hybrid powertrain

Features include:

  • 47 MPG to the lithium-ion hybrid and 100+ MPGe to the Plug-In Fusion Energi
  • lane-keeping system alerts you and actively applies steering torque if drifting is detected
  • parallel-parking assistance, which I’m hoping will become standard in cars by 2014 so I won’t feel dumb using it (6 years in the sticks has rendered me incapable of parallel parking.)
  • regenerative braking captures braking energy & stores it to help power the car
  • the seats are made from foam derived from plants, like soybeans, and covered in cloth that’s 100% post-industrial & post-consumer.

 

2013 dodge dart

 

Honorable mention: Dodge Dart

NOT the greenest of the bunch, I admit. But 40 mpg isn’t too shabby, and I have such fond memories of a Dodge Dart that was converted into a Batmobile that I can’t help but be thrilled they brought it back. Plus, it’s just a damn fine-looking car.

 

Other recent noteworthy news in eco cars:

Look, ma, no plug!: Electric cars recharged wirelessly: convenience is always a top priority.

Secretary Chu Predicts Steep Decline in EV Battery Prices: this could go a long way towards driving that initial investment cost down.

One-third of car fuel consumption due to friction loss: in the engine, transmission, tires, and brakes. Electric cars experience only half of that energy loss.

BUT remember:

Used Car Expert Says Buying Used Is “Greener”– the greenest choice is almost always what you already have! No matter what, new production means an energy cost and a certain level of pollution. Be good to the car you already have so it will last.

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Growing up in a household with no car meant my brother and I grew up with a healthy obsession with wheels: he went on to become a mechanic for a while (and owned more cars than I can remember). I’ve always been more fascinated with the evocative nature of well-designed cars (my favorites being the lean, mean Corvettes and Jaguars and stately Bentleys). That eco-conscious cars have evolved to the point that they can be both beautiful and earth-friendly is genuinely exciting for me— now I’m waiting for the prices to come down to the point that they’re practical for the everyday commuter or soccer mom.

Hey, if you liked this eco-vehicle eye candy you might want to follow my “green cars are sexy” board on Pinterest. Just sayin’.

Which of these is your favorite?

If money were no object, what would you be driving right now?

 

Green Driving: Kia Optima Hybrid

2011 hybrids

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty.
The activist is the man who cleans up the river.

-Ross Perot

Although I love to tout all the little things we can do to make our planet a little cleaner, a little better, a little safer, there comes a point where we need to start considering the big ways that we can cumulatively make a difference.

Now, with cars I’m going on record as saying it’s best to stay with what you have for as long as you can (unless you’re driving a seriously polluting gas-guzzler from the late 70s or something). BUT, when it comes time for a new ride, a hybrid or electric is the smart, responsible, and eco-friendly way to go.

As much as I would love to go electric and sexy with the Tesla Roadster or Fisker Karma, I don’t have the $90K or so to make that feasible, and I’m guessing that’s true of most of my readers too.  So, hybrids are a more sensible choice and that’s what I’m going to concentrate on here.

My husband, helpfully playing devil’s advocate, points out that the mpg on a hybrid isn’t always mind-blowing compared to an efficient vehicle of the same size, and that’s true enough. What you have to consider is the conservation of x gallons a week and multiply that by the life of the car. That’s how you need to consider the savings to your bank account.

But then multiply THAT by the number of cars on the road.

Approximately 250 million registered vehicles in the U.S. and as of 2007, 136 million of those were cars.

See what I mean? This is where a major difference can be made.

And the cold hard fact is, if we want more hybrid cars available at a lower cost point in the future, we need to start shifting our money to that technology NOW. Like any other corporation, the car companies are paying attention to where the money goes.

Kia’s taking affordable eco-crusading one step closer to reality, by entering into the hybrid field with a solid contender at a price that’s much more accessible to the average frugal-minded conscious consumer. Practical but still pretty sexy, the Kia Optima Hybrid hits showrooms in June with up to 35 miles per gallon in city driving, 40 miles per gallon on the highway, and a starting price of $26,500.

The 2011 Optima Hybrid uses a full parallel hybrid system and can be driven in zero emission, full-electric drive mode at speeds up to 62 miles per hour or in blended gas-electric mode at any speed. When the car comes to a stop and the electrical load is low, the engine shuts off to completely eliminate idle fuel consumption and emissions.

Features include:

  • eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat
  • dual zone automatic temperature control with rear vents
  • push-button start with smart key
  • Supervision meter cluster with LCD display
  • fixed rear seats with ski pass-through
  • Virtual Engine Sound System (standard on the Optima Hybrid) plays a pre-recorded engine sound during electric-only operation to help notify people outside the vehicle that it’s a-comin’
  • UVO, an easy-to-use hands-free solution that allows drivers and passengers to answer and place phone calls, receive and respond to SMS text messages, access music from a variety of media sources and create custom music experiences.

 

Want to learn more?

Even if you’re not in the market for a new car right now this is pretty interesting stuff to know.

Your thoughts? Is a hybrid in your future?

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This promotional sponsored post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. I was compensated for my time investment and work on this campaign. Thoughts are my own.

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