By John Addison (updated 12/4/09)
Toyota Prius continues to lead hybrid cars in fuel economy and lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. This perennial favorite midsize 4-door hatchback delivers 50 miles per gallon (mpg) and is lowest on the list with 3.7 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent for the EPA annual driving cycle. Yes, 3.7 tons of CO2e is a lot; but many cars, light trucks, and SUVs create three times that emission; to get lower emissions you would need a plug-in car. The hatchback design allows for more cargo, especially if you drop part or all of the 60/40 back bench seat. This year, Toyota is also putting 500 plug-in Priuses into fleet tests of electric cars. Read the details in the 2010 Toyota Prius Review.
Honda Civic Hybrid is a good alternative for those who want a traditional looking sedan that seats 5. This front-wheel drive compact saves fuel at 42 mpg. At 4.4 annual tons of CO2e, this hybrid emits actually emits less greenhouse gases than its CNG cousin. Civic Hybrid Review.
Honda Insight is a sporty four-door hatchback with an Ecological Drive Assist System. Although the Insight looks like the Prius, it is a bit smaller, lighter, and often $2,000 less than the Prius. The Insight will deliver 41 mpg combined, with annual emissions of about 4.5 tons of CO2e. Read about our 2010 Honda Insight Test Drive.
Ford Fusion Hybrid is appealing to those who want a made in America midsized sedan. This roomy 5-seater delivers 39 mpg and 4.7 tons of CO2e per year. The Fusion Hybrid and its first cousin the Mercury Milan Hybrid may travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. The Advanced Intake Variable Cam Timing allows for more seamlessly transition between gas and electric modes, making for a smooth and quiet ride. The Mercury Milan Hybrid offers the same drive system and body, with upscale interior. Read about Clean Fleet Report’s Fusion Hybrid test drive.
Lexus HS 250h is a stylish compact 5-seat sedan that delivers 35 mpg and 5.3 tons of CO2e per year. The Lexus brand lets your friends know that are using less petroleum by choice; you can afford a bit of luxury. Lexus HS 250h Review Lexus HS 250h Test Drive
Nissan Altima Hybrid also delivers good mileage for a midsize, benefiting from Nissan’s continuously variable transmission technology. The EPA rating is 5.4 tons of CO2e for the EPA annual driving cycle and a combined 34 mpg.
Toyota Camry Hybrid delivers good mileage for a midsize with an automatic transmission. The EPA rating is 5.4 tons of CO2e for the EPA annual driving cycle and a combined 34 mpg.
Ford Escape Hybrid comfortably carries 5 people and lots of cargo. This SUV achieves a combined 32 mpg and emissions of 5.7 tons of CO2e – double the mileage and half the emissions of many SUVs. The mileage is an impressive 29 mpg for the 4-wheel drive versions of this SUV. With a common drive system and chassis, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid delivers the same carbon footprint and mileage.
Lexus RX 450h with more acceleration and room than the others, costs more, starting at over $42,000. For a powerful SUV, it still conserves with 30 mpg and 6.1 tons of CO2e. Haul 5 people and lots of stuff without sacrificing quality and styling in the RX450h. The all wheel drive version has slightly better mileage than the Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD.
Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid looks and feels like the popular 5-seat Chevy Malibu, but you will go farther on a tank of gas. This mild hybrid gets 29 miles per gallon, with 6.3 tons of CO2e per year emissions. This vehicle is only offered to government and corporate fleets. It was not displayed, for example, at the LA Auto Show.
Your top 10 choices include hatchbacks that start at under $20,000 and stretch to roomy premium SUVs that cost over $40,000. If you are not too concerned with vehicle and annual fuel costs, there are a number of other 2010 hybrid SUVs on the market including the Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Yukon, and the pricey and powerful Cadillac Escalade. The Silverado and Sierra are also available as hybrid pickup trucks.
Hybrid is no guarantee of saving at the pump. The Smart and the MiniCooper get double the mpg of some of the 2010 hybrid SUVs and pickup trucks.
The list includes only 2010 model year hybrids offered in the United States. For example, offered only in Japan, the new Toyota Sai will get better mileage than the Prius. Some of these 2010 models were announced early in 2009. Other 2010 models have yet to be announced. Major auto shows are coming so check back for the latest in hybrids that take away that pain at the pump and deliver a quiet ride.
This list was developed by first searching the U.S. EPA and DOE’s valuable fueleconomy.gov. The EPA combined miles per gallon rating is based on 45% highway and 55% city driving. The carbon footprint is carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) based on 15,000 miles of driving, using the GREET 1.7 model.
Battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are not part of this list. Clean Fleet Report Electric Car Reports.
Hybrids are in demand now that oil prices have doubled since March. You may want to make the nation a bit more energy secure, make the world a little better, or just save fuel cost for years by making your next car a hybrid.