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Lean, Green Machines: The Most Eco-Conscious Cars on the Market


HannahWhittenly

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The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and GreenerCars.org have established a ranking system for the greenest cars for 2015. The list provides consumers with the lowdown on the most environmentally conscious models currently on the market. While each manufacturer offers a number of individualized options, the list serves as a starting point for consumers.

Nissan Leaf

The compact five-door hatchback comes equipped with an automatic transmission, an 80kW electric motor and a 24kW lithium-ion battery that runs up to 100 miles on a full charge. The Leaf offers 24-cubic feet of cargo space, which expands when folding down the rear seats. Additional features include automatic climate control, around view monitoring system, a navigation system, intelligent keyless entry and push button start. The 2015 model comes in S, SV and SL styles and lists for $29,010.

Toyota Prius C

The 2015 hatchback hybrid continues offering a 1.5L gasoline engine and an AC synchronous electric motor, which function independently or in combination. The Prius still gets an impressive 53mpg/city and 46mpg/highway. Options vary depending on which of four model choice consumers select. Features include automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone controls, cruise control, push-button start, backup camera and a 6.1-inch touch-screen display with USB input. The Prius C lists for $20,300 to $25,300.

Smart For Two Electric Drive

With a tight turning radius and the ability to park just about anywhere, the Smart For Two electric version comes with a 55kW motor and an automatic transmission. Available in hatchback or convertible styles, the 2015 model promises 68miles per charge on the vehicle's 17.6kW lithium-ion battery. Recharging takes approximately six hours if using a 240-volt outlet and 20 hours on a 110-volt plug-in. The ultimate mini-commuter lists for $25,000 - $28,000.

Fiat 500e

The little Italian hatchback features room for up to four passengers, comes equipped with seven airbags, a navigation system, Bluetooth communication and Sirius radio. The 83kW electric motor goes up to 87 miles on a full charge. The Fiat also has a single-speed transmission. The California 500e lists for $31,800.

Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium

The 2015 Subaru Outback ranked in the top five overall scoring green cars of the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide, making this compact SUV one of the greenest options on the market for the average car buyer. An expert with Findlay Subaru in St George says the 2015 Outback has been awarded the highest possible safety rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway safety, making this SUV as safe as it is green.

Chevy Spark EV

Proudly American made, the Spark EV features a 100kW electric motor that offers 140hp and a 18kW lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 82 miles when fully charged. The charging time varies from 20 minutes on a DC fast charging unit, seven hours on 240-volt outlets or 20 hours on 120-volts. Some of the many features include heated front seats, Bluetooth, OnStar, MyLink Infotainment and Sirius radio. The all-electric vehicle sold by GM lists for $31,800.

Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf is new to the Volkswagen line-up for 2015. The two-door hatchback features an AC synchronous electric motor that has 115 hp and a battery pack capable of running up to 83 miles. Charging is accomplished using a 240-volt outlet or a DC fast-charging station. Available in East Coast and West Coast states, the e-Golf lists for $35,445.

BMW i3

As many potential electric vehicle owners express concern over having a mere 80-mile capacity, BMW additionally offers the option of having a gas engine that functions as a generator, which doubles the range of the i3. There are three models available with a choice of a DC fast charging port, heated seats, ConnectedDrive synchronization, the Comfort Access System, keyless entry and leather-and-wool interiors. The upscale hybrid lists for $41,350.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 1995, there were a mere 250,000 alternative fuel vehicles available. By 2011, that number exploded to more than 11 million. The options of environmentally friendly vehicles continues expanding and becoming more competitive. Today's choices include electric, diesel, hydrogen and hybrid powertrains. Additionally, every year manufacturers include more features and upgrades in attempts at attracting new buyers.

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