This week we’re taking it easy on the news, and most of the stories are going to be lists from writes of their favorite stories from 2013. I’m going to kick things off with my top 13 favorite overall green cars from the past year, and leading the charge is…
13: The Cadillac ELR
We’ve ragged on its high MSRP and the fact that it’s basically a Volt in Cadillac clothing, but the 2014 Cadillac ELR is by most regards a very good, if not overpriced vehicle. While it loses three miles of all-electric range and a couple of doors, the Cadillac ELR also loads up on the luxury and technology, pushing GM’s luxury brand into a more competitive space globally. Cadillac’s freshmen effort at a fun green car is a great first step, and if the rumors about the second-gen Volt are true, we have a lot to look forward to.
12: The Fiat 500e
Fiat doesn’t want to sell pure electric cars, and they’re only making as many as they need to, but the Fiat 500e has sold out without incentive, and is among the most fun of the low-range EVs to drive. Whether they know it or not, Fiat created a competitive EV, and with perhaps a bit more effort and enthusiasm, could be a real player in the electric car field.
11: The Ford Fusion Hybrid
Despite customer complaints regarding less-than-expected fuel economy, the sexy-looking Ford Fusion Hybrid has helped the Blue Oval make major gains in states like California, which has been dominated by the import scene. The Fusion Hybrid is leading the charge, helping Ford become a green car leader in the space of a year.
10: BMW i3
Tesla likes to talk about how it’s going to take on the BMW 3 series with an all-electric car in 2013, but BMW may have beat them to the punch. With an optional range extender offering up to 200 miles of driving, rear-wheel drive, and the typical BMW obsession with being the “Ultimate Driving Machine”, this long-anticipated electric Bimmer has not disappointed.
9: The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
While Chrysler and Fiat may not be big into pure electric cars, the Italian-American automaker is betting big in diesel engines. By putting the 3.0 liter EcoDiesel V6 into the Ram 1500, Chrysler is giving consumers a full-size truck with sedan-like fuel economy, and for just $1,500 more than the HEMI V8. This has set a new standard for full-size truck fuel economy, the largest vehicle market in North America.
8: The Toyota Prius
Despite a new model still being years away, the Toyota Prius continues to be both the best-selling, and most efficient hybrid car you can buy. Add to that legendary reliability that makes it among the best-built vehicles of our era, and the Toyota Prius definitely deserves a place on any green car list.
7: The Mazda6 with i-Eloop
Mazda’s decision to focus on improving the fuel economy of the internal combustion engine, rather than chasing EVs or hybrids, has helped it become the most fuel-efficient automaker in America. The SkyActiv-G gas engine, combined with a mild hybrid supercapacitor system, helps the 2014 Mazda 6 get a hybrid-like 40 mpg on the highway, while keeping the below the premium added to many full hybrid models.
6: The Nissan Leaf
By slashing the price by $6,400, Nissan has created a surge of demand for its Leaf electric car. Sales has steadily climbed through all of 2013, and in Norway the Leaf has even become the best-selling vehicle in the Scandinavian nation. Nissan bet big on the Leaf, and while sales may not be as high as hoped, the Leaf brand is becoming increasingly recognizable.
5: The Chevy Volt
Like the Leaf, a big price cut has resulted in a surge of sales, and this plug-in hybrid has become a class leader in short order. Three years on, and rumors of the next-gen Volt are starting to heat up, with as much as 200 miles of all-electric range and a $30,000 price tag on the plate. The Volt has earned its place in the green car pantheon, and 2014 should see sales continue to rise.
4: Honda Accord Hybrid
I have a review upcoming on the all-new Accord Hybrid, but suffice to say this is a big sedan with the heart of a full-fledged hybrid that still delivers an enjoyable ride. This car is proof you can have your cake and eat it too, offering up to 45 mpg even with a semi-heavy foot. This car should fly off of dealer lots.
3: Tesla Model S
What’s this? A list that doesn’t put the green car darling of 2013 in the number one spot? 2013 showed that Tesla has the chutzpah to go toe-to-toe with automotive juggernauts like Mercedes and BMW, but 2013 also revealed that Elon Musk and his electric car are not infallible. How Tesla handles the pitfalls of building an authentic, game-changing vehicle will be put to the test in 2014.
2: Mazda6 Diesel
Even though sales of the Mazda 6 with the SkyActiv-D diesel engine have been delayed, it may just work out in Mazda’s favor. Balanced to offer both fuel economy and performance, Mazda has raced a pair of diesel-powered Mazdas all through 2013, and a wagon version would fulfill many car enthusiasts’ wet dreams.
1: The BMW i8
While it’s been almost half a decade in the making, the BMW i8 is a legitimate contender for title of the best green performance car. The plug-in hybrid system has been designed to be effortlessly efficient, with a 94 MPG rating and a 184 MPH top speed. To go from 0 to 60 mph takes just 4.5 seconds, and the 22-mile all-electric range makes it cleaner than the Prius, even though it has over 350 horsepower. If I won the lottery, this is the supercar I would buy, bar none.
Agree? Disagree? Tell us in the comments below.