Best Green Cars, 2011

The hybrid car that changed the world • The electric cars that will change the world • $1,000s in rebates and incentives • 40 mpg for the long haul • All-electric daily driving • 38 mpg with smiles • $2.75 to recharge • No range anxiety • 35 mpg with zip 

June/July 2011

By John Rockhold 

Back in 2000, Toyota released the Prius, a gasoline-electric hybrid, in the United States. That year, the average price of gas was just $1.49, yet here was a quirky little car that touted 40-plus mpg. A 2004 redesign gave the Prius even better mpg and its iconic shape, and it became so popular Toyota couldn’t keep up with demand. Today, the Prius is the most successful hybrid by far and has basically come to define “green car.” It’s no surprise, then, that the Prius is back among the annual MOTHER EARTH NEWS Best Green Cars.

Have you ever wondered what the heck “Prius” actually means? It’s a Latin word meaning “to go before.” Toyota chose it to signify that the car and its hybrid technology would be a precursor of the energy-efficient cars of the future — which has certainly proved true, given the numerous hybrids released by Toyota and others. However, it’s the two all-electric cars on our 2011 list that herald the next revolution in green transportation.

Yes, practical and accessible electric cars from major automakers are finally here. Neither electric car is perfect, but the Prius wasn’t either back in 2000. Of the many features that make the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf compelling, their driving range and cost to own are what may make them most appealing. The Leaf has a range of about 100 miles, depending on driving conditions. The Volt has a shorter all-electric range, but uses a gas engine to power its two electric motors when needed for a total range of about 375 miles.



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