Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S
Published November/December 2015

Best Green Machines

6 top picks for planet-friendly cars

BYNina Russin
Living in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, it’s hard not to think about the impact that our lifestyles, including the cars we drive, have on the environment. Thanks to a growing array of clean technologies, it’s possible for car buyers to minimize their automotive carbon footprint with no compromise in performance. 
 
While there is no price ceiling for our top six green car picks, value for the money was a priority. Special features and practicality also were considered. Fuel-cell vehicles were not included in this story because refueling stations remain extremely limited. With that said, check out our green machine winners.
 
Toyota Prius
Gasoline-electric hybrid: Since its inception 14 years ago, the Toyota Prius has sold more than 6 million units globally, having one of the most loyal owner bases of any automobile. Averaging 51 mpg in city and highway driving, the Prius uses a nickel-metal hydride battery pack to recharge electric motors that work in concert with a small gasoline engine. Pricing begins at $24,200.
 
Volkswagen Golf TDI SportWagen
Turbo-diesel injection: For 2015, the model once called the Jetta SportWagen becomes the Golf SportWagen. Priced from $22,345 for the manual transmission car and $24,265 for the 6-speed automatic, the five-passenger SportWagen TDI averages 45 mpg highway and 30 city, has a versatile cargo area for buyers with active lifestyles, and plenty of pep with 236 foot-pounds of peak torque. 
 
Tesla Model S 
Pure electric car: The Model S, priced from $75,000 for the 70D all-wheel-drive model, is by far the best electric car on the market, with an EPA estimated driving range of 240 miles. Buyers can add the Supercharger Enabled package for $2,500, which allows them to replenish more than half a charge in as little as 20 minutes at Supercharger stations throughout the country. The all-wheel-drive model accelerates from 0-to-60 in 5.2 seconds. Gorgeous styling and a luxurious interior with seating for up to five passengers make the Tesla worth its premium price.
 
Chevrolet Volt
Extended range electric car: The Chevrolet Volt combines an electric motor and gasoline engine, similar to a hybrid, but has a longer range in pure electric mode. The 2016 model that went on sale during the second half of this year runs up to 50 miles in electric mode before switching over to the gasoline engine. Owners can charge the Volt in about 4.5 hours using 220-volt current. Base price is $35,170, but there is a possible tax credit of $7,500 and rebate of $1,000.
 
Ford Fusion Hybrid
Gasoline-electric hybrid: Buyers who want a traditional sedan with a green footprint will find a lot to love in the hybrid version of Ford’s midsize Fusion. Average city/highway fuel economy is 42 mpg. A compact lithium ion battery pack located between second-row seats and the trunk, combined with a 4-cylinder engine, yields 141 net horsepower. In addition to the standard rearview camera, buyers can add blind-spot monitoring, active-park assist, lane-keeping system, and adaptive cruise control to make driving safer and more comfortable. Starting price for the base model is $26,575.
 
Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
Off-road green machine: Jeep’s fuel-efficient EcoDiesel engine gives the five-passenger Grand Cherokee SUV 28 mpg highway and 21 city for the four-wheel-drive version. Capable of traversing the challenging Rubicon Trail and towing up to 7,400 pounds, the Grand Cherokee has a reduced carbon footprint, enabling us to both enjoy and preserve our wilderness areas. Pricing begins at $37,065 for the Limited model. The EcoDiesel engine is a $4,500 option.
NINA RUSSIN specializes in reviewing vehicles for buyers with active lifestyles and owns a Jeep Wrangler because, like her, it likes to spend time off the grid.
Learn More
AAA simplifies the hunt for your perfect car with AAA Car Buying. You can test drive, finance, purchase, and lease a vehicle — all without ever stepping foot in a dealership. Visit AAA.com to learn more.
 
Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius
Jeep Cherokee EcoDiesel
Jeep Cherokee EcoDiesel
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