Since the Honda Insight debuted in 1999 as the first hybrid vehicle sold in America, cars have zoomed forward in terms of eco-friendliness and fuel efficiency. Today, drivers have an entire fleet of green car choices ranging from biofuels and EVs to hybrids and gas-sipping vehicles.
Though hybrids and EVs offer superb gas mileage and little-to-no emissions, they tend to cost more to buy and insure. For instance, the Chevrolet Volt costs a cool $40,280 while the Hyundai Sonata hybrid costs $25,795 (its non-hybrid counterpart costs $19,395).
For those of us who are budget- and eco-conscious, conventional cars may provide the most attractive options. But where to begin?
To help you figure it all out, here are 3 tips on how to choose the greenest gas-powered vehicles.
Check the stats
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Vehicle Guide makes it easy to measure the eco factor of the model you have in mind. Using their online guide, you can check out its emissions (air pollution and greenhouse gases) and fuel-efficiencies of most vehicles from the last 11 years. And you can compare up to 3 vehicles side by side.
Look for green car manufacturing practices
While fuel-economy and emissions are 2 key factors in determining greenness, how a car is made influences its eco-friendliness as well. No one expects you to trace the origin of the car you have in mind back to its manufacturing plant (honest), but if you’re buying a brand new car, it never hurts to ask. In case you’re curious, GM, Subaru, and Ford have all implemented green manufacturing measures.
Once you’re ready to close the deal, check to see if the car you want uses any eco-friendly materials like soy-foam seats, hemp-based products, or parts made from recycled goods.
Of course, no matter how green a vehicle might be, if it isn’t crashworthy, it probably isn’t your best bet. So check out the car’s crash test rating and its safety features before you buy. Check back next week for our post on the safest electric cars.