There once was a time where it seemed impossible to afford a car that was both environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient, especially for the average consumer. Luckily, as technology has advanced so has the automotive industry finally putting hybrid and electric cars in reach. Here we will review some of the best eco-economy cars on the market today as well as some of the best fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars since they still (mostly) dominate the under-$30,000 category.
Let’s start with the obvious ones, like the Toyota Prius. The 2021 model, the Toyota Prius Prime, ranges between $29,000-$34,000 depending on what features you opt for. This plug-in hybrid is a good option for those who don’t do a lot of long-distance driving since you will only get about 25 miles of electric driving before the gas engine takes over. All the Prime models have the same EPA ratings of 55 mpg in the city as well as advanced active safety features and upgraded driver assists. Toyota also has several other affordable crossover and hybrid models on the market that are worth researching.
The next obvious choice and most recognizable name in the clean-automotive industry is Tesla. The 2021 Tesla Model 3 has by far one of the best driving range mileages with the base model offering up to 260mpg. This Standard Range Plus model is also affordable costing just over $40,000 with annual fuel costs under $700. This option also rates at the top for speediness and handling as opposed to most other plug-in hybrids which don’t plan on getting you anywhere fast.
This next one may surprise you but definitely deserves its recognition. The 2021 Kia Niro is the perfect crossover vehicle for those who want a clean fuel-efficient car with plenty of cargo space. This model offers an impressive 50mpg driving range with an annual fuel cost under $900 and its base model starting around $25,000. With top-notch safety measures, plenty of legroom, and loads of new automotive tech, this subcompact hybrid is a great choice for those with a growing family.
Next, let’s talk about what Honda has to offer. The 2021 Honda Clarity also comes in several different models with the base plug-in hybrid costing about $35,000 and since it’s available in all 50 states it’s become the most popular edition. It’s also easier to recharge and refuel than the other models. This electric mid-size sedan can travel about 48 miles on battery power alone and has an impressive annual fuel cost of only about $600.
This list would be incomplete without reviewing the latest in the Hyundai electric models. The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq prioritizes efficiency with a better fuel-economy rating than the Prius (except for the Prius Prime). Model prices range from $25,000 to $35,000 with hybrids having an annual fuel cost as low as $500. The Ioniq also boasts competitive tech and safety features making it a highly attractive option for environmentally conscious drivers.
This list should be a good starting point for those looking to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle in the coming future. And for those who can’t afford such costs upfront, there are lots of fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars on the market to consider. The Volkswagen Golf, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Spark, Kia Forte, and Nissan Versa are just a few to consider looking into, all offering their own special something.