• 2016 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2017 Lexus CT 200h
  • 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

Top 10 Safe Green Cars

Combining Two Critical Aspects To Pick the Right Car

We know that Clean Fleet Report readers are laser-focused on fuel economy. They may have a variety of different types of vehicles that they’re after, but mpg is always one of the must-haves on the wish list. But no one’s list has only one key attribute. Next on our list, jostling for the top spot, is safety. While new cars have gotten smarter and safer every year, some models still rise to the top of the list. So, here we present the Top 10 cars that can claim to not only be safe, but environmentally friendly. We’ve provided links to our recent road tests or news stories as well.

IIHS crash test

It’s not pretty, but it’s helping make cars safer

Our source for the safety ratings is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which has made its reputation by crashing cars in tests more stringent than those of the government. Because it publicizes the results—often with grisly videos—the industry pays attention and has begun to design its vehicles to not only ace the government standard, but IIHS’ tests as well. IIHS ranks its Top Safety Picks based on five crashworthiness tests—small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. The organization also looks at headlight quality superior front crash prevention.

The good news is there are more than 10 safe and fuel efficient vehicles, so we’ve sliced the selections a little more. We’ve broken this list into two groups—the first is the vehicles that are dedicated alternative fuel models—four solid choices. The second group is cars that have conventional as well as alt fuel versions. From them we’ve chosen representative models from the 11 categories so a broad range of choices are available.

The Core Group

  1. 2017 Toyota Prius – Just redesigned and build on a new platform, Toyota obviously put safety at the top of the list along with its traditional laser-like fuel efficiency focus
    2016 Toyota Prius Liftback

    The most popular hybrid is safe, too

    that has always characterized the best-selling model. One caveat if you’re looking at used Prius, the IIHS pick only applies to cars manufactured after August 2016.

  2. 2017 Chevrolet Volt – GM’s second generation Volt also leads the list when equipped with the optional front crash prevention package. The Volt can also be proud as it’s the only dedicated plug-in vehicle on the list.
  3. 2017 Lexus CT 200hRounding out the small car picks is Lexus hybrid-only model. The safety pick applies only to the models with the optional front crash prevention.
  4. 2017 Toyota Prius V – Toyota’s hybrid wagon, which the IIHS classifies as a midsize car, rounds out the list of dedicated green and safe cars.

Six More Top Picks

  1. The 2017 Audi A3, which has a plug-in version known as the 3-tron, made the list of safe midsize luxury cars. It offers a nice balance of fuel efficiency, technology and performance.
  2. In large cars, the 2017 Toyota Avalon, which includes a hybrid model, was the only car IIHS awarded its top pick to.
  3. Small SUVs are a fast-growing segment, so it’s heartening that IIHS found three models that have alt fuel models. The 2017 Nissan Rogue and 2017 Toyota RAV4 which have hybrid versions, made the cut, as did the 2017 Hyundai Tucson, which offers a fuel cell model (which we’re sure IIHS did not crash test). IIHS did call out that optional front crash protection and specific headlights were needed to provide the highest level of safety.
  4. Midsize luxury SUVs also had good representation on the IIHS list, including the 2017 Acura MDX, which has a hybrid model, the 2017 Volvo XC90, which has a plug-in hybrid version, and the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE, which also has a plug-in hybrid.
  5. The minivan segment is led by the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which has a plug-in hybrid model. It achieves the trifecta of maximum people and stuff hauling along with safety and fuel economy. IIHS made note they only recommended cars built after 2016.
  6. Finally, we’ll mention the minicar class, which included the 2017 Toyota Yaris. While not a hybrid or plug-in, it is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in that class.
2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Lots of choices combine top safety and top fuel economy

Other safety contenders included the 2017 Golf (or e-Golf), the 2017 Ford Fusion (which has a hybrid and plug-in hybrid version), the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu (hybrid), 2017 Honda Accord (hybrid), 2017 Hyundai Sonata (hybrid and plug-in hybrid), 2017 Kia Optima (hybrid and plug-in hybrid), 2017 Toyota Camry (hybrid), 2017 Lincoln MKZ (hybrid) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class (plug-in hybrid).

Lots to choose from.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2017 Chevrolet Volt

Road Test: 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Comparison Test: 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid & Plug-in Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Lexus CT 200h

Road Test: 2017 Ford Fusion Energi

Road Test: 2017 Hyundai Plug-in Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

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About Author: Michael Coates

is editor and publisher at Clean Fleet Report and an internationally recognized expert in the field of automotive environmental issues. He has been an automotive editor and writer for more than three decades. His media experience includes Petersen Publishing (now part of The Enthusiast Network), Green Car Journal, trade magazines, newspaper and television news reporting. He currently serves on the Board of the Western Automotive Journalists.

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