In the past few years, gas prices have risen to unprecedented levels and there have been fuel shortages in some areas, which led to major changes in the auto industry. As people held off on buying cars and spent less on fuel, automakers began promoting hybrid cars as the way out of the fuel crisis. Anything above 40 mpg is great, but the newest hybrids will surpass that mark.
Toyota Prius Plug-in
The Prius is one of the most recognizable hybrids on the road today for good reason. In 2009, Toyota sold its 1,000,000th hybrid car in the US, and the 3rd generation of the Prius was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal auto industry. Many hybrid enthusiasts were excited to learn that there was a plug-in Prius in the works; the car features a lithium-ion battery system and is modeled directly after the regular Prius.
As GM (parent of brands like GMC, Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet) emerged from bankruptcy protection, they looked to trim costs wherever they could. Brands like Hummer and Saturn were either eliminated or sold in order to make the company more manageable. Despite the cutbacks, one project that survived and even thrived was the Chevy Volt. The Volt is a plug-in hybrid that marks a drastic step away from gas-powered vehicles for GM. It has an electric motor with a 40 mile range and a backup internal combustion engine.
Volkswagen Golf Twin Drive
BMW isn’t the only German automaker breaking into the hybrid market. VW has experimented with a few models using hybrid and diesel powertrains, a concept that hasn’t seen widespread adoption by US drivers. The Golf Twin Drive combines a 122-hp diesel with an 82-hp electric engine inside a conventional Golf body. VW has worked with Sanyo to create a lithium ion battery pack that gives the Golf Twin Drive a range of 30 miles on the electric motor alone.
Honda Accord Plug-in
The upcoming Honda hybrid got an astounding 115 mpg in EPA testing, beating the Chevy Volt, Prius plug-in and Ford C-Max by a wide margin. Those numbers are impressive; if you can stay within the car’s admittedly short 13 mile electric-only range, you will get a purely electric-vehicle experience. The Accord hybrid is the first US car to meet the stringent SULEV20 emission standard, and it goes on sale in California and New York on Jan. 15 at a cost of $39,780.
If the other models on this list were too pedestrian for you, consider the Fisker Karma. It’s a full size luxury plug-in that lists for almost $88,000. Like the Volt, the Karma uses a lithium ion battery system that offers a 50 mile electric-only range before the 260-hp engine kicks in. It goes from 0-60 in 6 seconds, and reaches a top speed of 125 miles per hour—and has a claimed efficiency of over 100 miles per gallon.
Being more eco-friendly doesn’t mean giving up the chance to drive a sleek, somewhat sporty car. Any or all of the models on this list will give you the fuel economy you need and a look you’d be proud to call your own.