When editors of Kelley Blue Book prepared to select the “Top 10 Green Cars for 2011,” KBB’s annual listing of the most fuel-efficient cars, they sought to balance what buyers want in today’s cars – safety, creature comforts and driving enjoyment – with fuel efficiency. So, instead of just looking at the fuel-economy numbers, the editors also paid attention to cars that are ultra fuel-efficient.
Here is the list of Kelley Blue Book’s “Top 10 Green Cars for 2011.” Note that many do double-duty as excellent family cars – either as the main family sedan or extra car for commuting or in-town driving.
1. 2011 Nissan Leaf – Green inside and out, the all-new and all-electric 2011 Nissan Leaf tops KBB’s list of “Top 10 Green Cars for 2011.” With a Nissan-quoted 73 miles per charge and the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon, the Leaf may not be for everyone, but it does offer a “groundbreaking combination of range, room and price,” says KBB. Recycled materials (made from old car parts, home appliances and plastic bottles) are used extensively throughout the car.
2. 2011 Chevrolet Volt – KBB says the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, has a “93 mpg equivalent.” For the first 35 miles, Volt is all electric. Then the gas engine kicks in to power the car up to an additional 379 miles. In addition, KBB says the Volt “looks like a tasteful vision of the future – inside and out – and is one of the most fun electrically driven cars we’ve driven so far.”
3. 2011 Toyota Prius – The original “hybrid for the masses” is still up near the top of the green cars list, due to its stellar 51 mpg city/48 mpg highway fuel economy. Best of all, you drive it just like an ordinary car – no need to change your driving habits.
4. 2011 Lexus CT 200h – Responsive and athletic – and a hybrid getting 43 mpg city/40 mpg highway, the all-new 2011 Lexus CT 200h “looks like a sporty premium hatchback,” says KBB, “which is exactly what it is.” The 2011 Lexus CT 200h is also the least expensive Lexus you can buy.
5. 2011 Honda Insight – Its 41-mpg combined fuel economy rating makes the 2011 Honda Insight the third most fuel-efficient hybrid on the road. But it’s also less expensive this year than last (reduced more than $1,000), with starting prices ranging from $18,950 to about $24,000.
6. 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid – Ford already has a hit with the Ford Fusion, but the 2011 Fusion Hybrid’s combined EPA-estimated fuel economy of 39 mpg, KBB says Fusion Hybrid was a natural for its list of “Top 10 Green Cars for 2011.”
7. 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI – With its 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine capable of delivering 42 mpg highway, the 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI is not only fuel efficient, it’s also a fun drive. European driving feel, interior quality and hatchback utility are other Golf highlights in KBB’s book.
8. 2011 Hyundai Elantra – No matter what trim consumers buy, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra gets 40 mpg highway on all of them. That’s an impressive achievement, all the more so because the Elantra is a non-hybrid car. Other KBB favorites include the Elantra’s “bold sheet metal, stylish interior and attractive list of standard and optional features.”