More alternative-fuel choices
Whether you want to drive a sporty two-seater, a family sedan, a pickup truck or a sport utility vehicle, there’s a fuel-efficient diesel, electric or hybrid car to suit your taste.
Want luxury, too? There are lots of options. In fact, there are 52 alternative-fuel cars and trucks on the market, with more on the way. Here are our top five alternative-fuel car choices in 2012.
With car prices starting at just $19,345, the Honda CR-Z is a hybrid car that is easy on a car shopper’s budget. The two-seat coupe was introduced last year and was designed to have a sporty look as well as offer a sporty driving experience.
As an alternative-fuel car, it is powered by a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor that together provide 122 horsepower. The CR-Z gets an EPA-estimated 35 miles per gallon city and 39 mpg highway when equipped with the continuously variable transmission. It gets 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission. Standard features include automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, power windows and locks, cruise control and six air bags as well as stability and traction control.
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
With a car price starting at $25,795, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a midsize sedan loaded with comfort and convenience features.
Standard features include dual-zone climate control, power windows and door locks, a six-speaker audio system with MP3 capability, cruise control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and six air bags as well as stability and traction control. It also has a heated driver’s seat with an eight-way adjustment and power lumbar controls.
The hybrid version of the Sonata is powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor that produces 206 horsepower and gets a fuel-efficient, EPA-estimated 35 mpg city and 40 mpg on the highway. New for 2012 is Blue Link, a system similar to GM’s OnStar that provides real-time traffic and weather, a connection to emergency services and roadside assistance, maintenance alerts and the ability to sync to a smartphone to help owners locate their car in a crowded parking lot.
Lexus HS 250h
With car prices starting at $36,330, the Lexus HS 250h is the most expensive car on our list, but it’s also the most luxurious.
The five-seat sedan is powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine teamed with an electric motor to produce 187 horsepower. It’s about 30 percent more fuel efficient than the most efficient gas-only Lexus model and gets an estimated 35 city and 34 highway mpg.
The list of standard features for this car is long and includes dual-zone climate control, push-button start and stop, power moon roof, 10-way power driver’s and front passenger’s seats, 10 air bags, stability and traction control and a 10-speaker premium audio system with six-disc CD changer, Bluetooth technology, USB and MP3 capabilities. The car also has front-seat head restraints that move upward and forward on crash impact to limit whiplash.
The first purely battery-electric car to be put into mass production in the U.S., the Nissan Leaf was introduced as a 2011 model with a slow rollout across the country. By the end of 2011, the Nissan Leaf will be available for sale in every state. Though it has a starting price of $32,780, the car qualifies for a federal tax credit that can lower the price effectively to $25,280. Tax incentives in many states can reduce the car price further.
While the Leaf’s range is approximately 100 miles per electrical charge, Nissan views this alternative-fuel car as a fuel-efficient auto suitable for most drivers who typically use the Leaf as a commuter car, recharging it when they return home for the day.
Standard features include push-button start and stop, climate control, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, cruise control, a 60/40 split-folding rear seats, a navigation system and six airbags as well as stability and traction control. A battery pack powers an electric motor that produces 107 horsepower and an impressive 207 foot-pounds of torque. Recharging a fully depleted battery takes about seven hours at a 220-volt, home-charging dock.
Volkswagen Jetta TDI
The dirty, smelly diesel engines of long ago have been replaced with environmentally friendly clean diesels that provide top-notch, fuel-efficient cars.
With a car price starting at $22,995, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI fits the bill nicely in either its sedan or wagon form. Powered by a 140 horsepower, 2-liter turbocharged, direct-injected, or TDI, four-cylinder, the Jetta gets an EPA-estimated 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway mileage.
It seats five comfortably with 15.5 cubic feet of trunk space, while a 60/40-split folding rear seat also features a center pass-through to increase cargo carrying flexibility. Standard features include air conditioning, power windows and locks, power heated mirrors, cruise control, heated front seats, side curtain air bags, antilock brakes and electronic stability control.