The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its complete list of 2013 automobile picks for “Best in Class” fuel efficiency. While all eleven winners ranked high on fuel economy, there are a variety of characteristics making each one unique. The various reviews from popular consumer rating agencies used adjectives like fun, quirky, sleek, well-designed, roomy, quiet, quick-charging and high value to describe the cars. So, if you’re looking to purchase a fuel-efficient, eco-friendly car so you can drive green this year, there is definitely something for everyone.
A pair of fully electric smart cars appears on the list of the most fuel-efficient cars for 2013 According to the smart car website, these compact, fun-to-drive vehicles are among the least expensive cars to own if you want to drive green, as both models boast an average 107 miles per gallon.*
Electric Drive Convertible
Electric Drive Coupe
With an average driving range of 68 miles per charge, this bundle of joy is great for local jaunts and short road trips, while the recharge time using a personal home charging station is roughly six hours.
Toyota Claims Three Spots in the Best in Class Ratings
This year, Toyota claimed three spots on the EPA’s list, and the Scion iQ EV was awarded the highest fuel efficiency rating at 121.* The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the Toyota Prius V drove away with the award for the best midsize car and best midsize station wagon, respectively.
Scion iQ EV (four-seater)
Toyota claims the iQ electric vehicle was designed to meet the needs of commuters. With a maximum range of fifty miles per charge and a speedy three-hour recharge window, it is easy to see why this fuel-efficient mini-compact is popular with students and carpool enthusiasts.
Toyota Prius V Hybrid
The Prius V Hybrid is once again a winner. Consumer Guide rated the Prius V Hybrid 6.6 on a scale of 10. They rated fuel consumption as 10; however, this model only scored a 4 for acceleration and scored 5 in three categories: quietness, details and controls. At less than $30,000 (with many options), this value-packed ride comes with above-average cargo room compared to some other autos in the class. Front passengers also enjoy plenty of room to stretch out for a comfortable road trip.
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
Edmunds describes the Prius Plug-in Hybrid as “halfway between a full-electric and a hybrid car”. Reviews praise the increased range and superior fuel efficiency. The limited total-electric range prevents more enthusiasm, but a quiet, comfortable riding experience and plenty of standard features make the Prius Plug-in a value-packed choice in the midsize class for those who want to drive green.
Ford’s Triple Play
Like Toyota, Ford also has three fuel-efficient cars in the lineup this year. Ford offers two different hybrid models and one totally electric model to customers looking for ways to cut back on fuel consumption. All three offer superior fuel efficiency, along with many features and upgrade options.
Both the Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid and the Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid have 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter engines, and automatic (CVT) transmissions. The Ford Focus Electric has an automatic transmission (CVT) and a 107dW AC Induction motor.
Ford Focus Electric-Compact
According to Ford, many of the features in the new Focus Electric go beyond simply high fuel efficiency. This vehicle is extra eco-friendly, complete interior fabric is crafted using 100 percent recycled materials, and the foam used to pad cushions is a bio-based product that comes from plant seed oils.
While this is a premium choice for folks who want to drive green, we did notice a slight discrepancy between Ford numbers and those issued by the EPA when it comes to fuel consumption. Ford claims a rating of 110 miles per gallon, while the EPA listed the number as 105.*
Ford C-Max Hybrid Midsize
When Jeff Sabatini from Car and Driver test drove the new C-Max in December of 2012, he went in comparing this midsize to “the other one”, the Prius V. While Sabatini reported that driving this car is definitely fun, he did find a few things that prevented him from “falling-head-over-heels in love” with the electric newcomer. He reported that unless you drive very slowly, you can’t get the promised fuel efficiency, as what he observed was less than the Prius V test produced.
On the positive side, Sabatini reports that in a test against the Prius for all electric speed, the C-Max beat Prius by twenty miles per hour. Fans of the Mitsubishi Expo LRV will probably like the body style of the C-Max.
Ford Fusion Hybrid-Midsize
Beyond a respectable fuel efficiency rating, the new Ford Fusion Hybrid has style. Reviewer Daniel Pund (Car and Driver) called it ritzy. This is one car that has all of the attributes of a comfortable sedan in an eco-friendly package stylish enough to turn heads. This year’s model has a smaller battery pack and a rear seat that folds down which allows for added trunk room.
This rear-wheel drive hatchback has a total electric driving range of 62 miles. With a recharge time of 7 hours, it does take longer than many cars on the list to get ready for another trip. The combined fuel efficiency shows an average of 112 miles per gallon equivalent - with 126 miles per gallon in the city, and 99 on the highway.*
Small Station Wagon
Honda Fit EV
Features for this small station wagon include a rear fold-down seat, five-passenger seating, and a roomy interior cabin. Thought limited release options are available at this time, according to Honda, the Fit comes with standard safety features that include six airbags and special connectors for child seats in the two second row positions.
Large Class Tesla Model S
Closing out this list is Tesla’s Model S. This large sedan sets the mark for quality and performance in the eco-friendly electric car market. Premium accessories and features are why MotorTrend chose the model S as their 2013 Car of the Year in all classes and styles.
*Fuel mileage is computed based on formulas that convert electric usage to a gasoline consumption equivalent for comparison
Top Tesla Model S image courtesy of Jurvetson.
All other images courtesy of fueleconomy.gov.