None of These Green Cars Will Drive You Into The Red

Toyota Prius. (Photo: AFP Relaxnews)

Toyota Prius. (Photo: AFP Relaxnews)

What are the best affordable greener transport options on sale at the moment that won't break the bank?

This year's Auto Shanghai is shaping up to be one of the key automotive events for new greener car launches, whether in the form of the conceptual all-electric plug-in, super-efficient gasoline engines or cars that offer extended hybrid range. But for those of us that can't wait for an auto show concept to become a production reality or for a new European model to cross the Atlantic, what are the best affordable greener transport options on sale at the moment that won't break the bank?

According to vehicle valuation and information service, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) although true environmentally friendly alternatives to the traditional internal combustion engine are still in their infancy, the choice available for those with a budget of up to $40,000 (before government incentives or grants) has never been better. "With each new model year, there are more 'green car' choices than ever before," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Automakers now offer several vehicles with a variety of eco-friendly powertrain options to accommodate both the lifestyle and budget needs of just about any buyer."

For those looking for a simple hybrid that will use battery power to improve the miles per gallon of a traditional engine, the 2017 Toyota Prius is KBB's top choice. It offers 52mpg on the combined cycle, has a maximum output of 121hp and prices start from $25,570.

In terms of figures alone, the new Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is more impressive still, offering 58mpg, 18 more horsepower than the Toyota and costing $2000 less; however, the Prius is still a more complete package, for the moment at least.

As for plug-in hybrids capable of traveling purely on electric power, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt ($34,095) offers the greatest range (53 miles) on batteries alone. However, its overall fuel economy when the gasoline engine also kicks in (42mpg) is significantly less than the Toyota Prius Prime's 54mpg. The Prius Prime can only cover 24 miles on batteries alone but it recharges faster (2.2-5.5 hours compared with 4.5-13 hours), and is $7,000 less to buy, making it KBB's top choice.

When it comes to plug-in electric cars, the choice is much smaller with only five cars from major manufacturers on sale in the US currently offering a usable range of more than 100 miles between charges and costing less than $40,000. The best of that bunch is the Chevrolet Bolt. The first car in this price bracket capable of covering 238 miles on a single charge, it is currently unassailable in terms of range. The EV version of the Hyundai Ioniq is ranked second with a 124-mile range and a $30,335 price tag while the latest generation VW eGolf (125-mile range) is in third place.

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