The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are the first of a new wave of modern electric vehicles that have been in the news for over a year now. We’ve heard about how convenient it is to recharge at home and how far they can each travel on a single charge.
But as anxious as consumers are to see the first of these green machines on the street, the public is still months away from either of them going on sale. So what vehicles should you and your family be looking at now to get your hands on the latest hybrid-electric technology?
We partnered with Honk.com to put together some great suggestions for family-oriented hybrids based on feedback from the families who bought them.
1. Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The Highlander Hybrid is a family vehicle that’s got it all. There’s space for adults to stretch out, all-wheel drive for inclement weather, and an optional DVD entertainment system to keep the kids happy. The V6 engine at the heart of this hybrid provides plenty of power and the fuel economy is even better than that of smaller, 4-cylinder-powered crossovers. It’s no wonder that this Toyota claimed top honors among green families. (MPG: 27 city, 25 highway)
2. Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Camry Hybrid is a no-drama kind of car that doesn’t mind letting its Prius sibling soak up the hybrid limelight. It does everything you’d expect from a midsize sedan, comfortably hauling people without fuss. Owners love the quiet ride and easy-to-use controls. Commenting on the roomy, do-it-all nature of the car, one owner said, “My wife, daughter and I went on a 2 week trip to Canada, averaged over 40MPG on the trip and carried all our stuff in the trunk including camera backpacks, tripod, etc.” (MPG: 33 city, 34 highway)
3. Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid
Mercedes has never been one to shy away from a fight and is now offering hybrid versions of the M-Class and S-Class to compete with the growing range of Lexus hybrids. Owners love the ML450‘s beautiful cabin and serene ride. Thanks to the powerful V6 hybrid and rugged chassis, this Mercedes also has the highest maximum towing capacity (5,000 pounds) of any hybrid vehicle on this list. There’s enough room for a family of four to load up a trailer and head to the great outdoors. (MPG: 21 city, 24 highway)
4. Lexus GS450h
Luxury cars with gas-guzzling engines are so passé, aren’t they? With the GS450h, Lexus has found a way to combine the blazingly fast performance of a big V8 engine with the fuel-sipping nature of a small V6. And when you’re not zooming up to speed on the highway, you’ll appreciate the luxurious cabin, which has plenty of room for kids and adults alike. Think of this Lexus sedan as conspicuous consumption with half the calories. (MPG: 22 city, 25 highway)
5. Ford Escape Hybrid
As a green family vehicle, the Ford Escape Hybrid and its upscale Mercury Mariner Hybrid cousin are hard to beat. These are great vehicles for families because the tall ride height makes it easy to buckle small children into car seats and the boxy SUV shape means that there’s plenty of room for gear in the cargo area. In addition to the advanced hybrid system, the Escape and Mariner are also available with many other high-tech features. SYNC can manage your phone calls and music via voice commands and the Active Park Assist can even steer the car into a parallel parking space for you. (MPG: 34 city, 31 highway)
6. Lexus HS250h
The HS250h may be the newest Lexus hybrid but it is already garnering praise from owners for being “like a Prius with a lot more class.” The HS sedan has a compact, city-friendly size, making it ideal if you and your family live in an area with tight streets or limited parking. Best of all, combined fuel economy is a very respectable 35 miles per gallon. (MPG: 35 city, 34 highway)
7. Lexus RX450h
The RX450h was the first luxury hybrid on the market in 2006 and it remains the quintessential vehicle for affluent, eco-conscious families. The second-row seat slides to make room for car seats or cargo and there are cup-holders galore to keep your kid’s toys off the floor. In addition to the hushed ride and exquisite cabin, the RX is loaded with fun, high-tech gadgets. As one owner put it, “The AFS headlights with the bi-xenon HID lights make me look for reasons to drive at night.” (MPG: 32 city, 28 highway)
8. Honda Insight
Who says that kids are the only ones who can have fun? The Honda Insight makes a game of green driving through an innovative Eco Assist feature that provides helpful feedback and encouragement to the driver. Move about efficiently to make leaves grow on digital trees in the Eco Score game. Drive aggressively and the leaves fall off. The Insight’s five-door hatchback body comes in handy for hauling strollers or soccer gear and its hybrid system provides near-Prius fuel economy at a noticeably lower price. (MPG: 40 city, 43 highway)
9. Ford Fusion Hybrid
With the ability to squeeze out 41 miles from only one gallon of fuel, the Fusion Hybrid is the reigning king of midsize hybrid sedans. It can travel up to 47 miles per hour in electric mode and cruise up to 700 miles on one tank of gas. In addition to the hybrid wizardry under the hood, the Fusion Hybrid also comes with some amazing technology inside the cabin like SYNC media management, a blind spot detection system, and an LCD Smart Gauge feature that can display an efficiency game next to the speedometer to encourage eco-friendly driving. Best of all, the Fusion remains a spacious midsize sedan with plenty of room for your family to get comfortable and enjoy the ride. (MPG: 41 city, 36 highway)
10. Toyota Prius
The Prius is the world’s best-known hybrid and it earns its spot on this list of green family rides thanks to amazing fuel economy and surprising practicality. The sleek hatchback design boosts highway mileage and offers great storage space. The cargo area is also flat, making it much easier to access than a sedan’s trunk. That means no more struggling to drag a heavy stroller up and over a tall lip. Owners note that the back seat is a little bit snug, which may explain why the Prius didn’t finish higher on the list. Still, this is a great choice for families with small children. (MPG: 51 city, 48 highway)
Matt Cragin manages the community on car website Honk.com, enabling him to keep his finger on the pulse of automotive world. Always ready to chat cars, Matt can be found on Twitter and Car Blog. Looking for the perfect car? Honk puts the fun back into car shopping with the latest information and opinions from real people like you.
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