The Best Eco Friendly Cars

How to find the right sized eco-friendly vehicle for your needs

eco friendly cars

 Getty Images/Dominique Bruneton

If you are looking to go green, one of the first places to start is by examining your driving habits. While taking public transportation or riding a bike are the best ways to decrease your carbon footprint indeed, that is not always an option, especially if you have got lots of kids, take road trips often, or live in an area without great public transportation options. Thankfully, switching to a diesel-fuelled, electric-powered, or even a hybrid vehicle can help you be gentler to the planet -- and to your wallet, too. While you might not associate diesel fuel, SUVs, or sleek sports cars with environmentalism, our picks deliver the serious quality you expect out of a car without sacrificing on environmental impact, either.

Best Eco Diesel Vehicle

Best Diesel Car: 2018 Volkswagen Jetta
$18,645 to 29,545
MPG: 31

This is not a fancy car, but it is an incredibly affordable option if you are looking to go green. If you are a family guy or gal, you will appreciate the spacious trunk and roomy cabin, although there’s nothing fancy inside. Perhaps to make up for the lack of refinement, the vehicle still packs a respectable acceleration speed that will make other folks in the carpool line stop and take notice: this diesel car goes from zero to sixty in fewer than 8 seconds.

Best Eco Electric Vehicles

Best Compact Electric Car: 2018 Chevrolet Bolt
$36,620 to 40,905
MPGe: 119
Driving Range: 238 miles

This compact electric car packs a serious punch. With a range that gives you nearly 4 hours of reasonable highway driving, it trumps cheaper competitors regarding how far it can go without needing to rest and recharge. It also boasts a roomier interior than you might expect for a car of this size, which seats five comfortably, and the 200 horsepower engine allows it to accelerate quickly and quietly. Chevrolet also offers a Best Price Program that connects you with the dealerships in your area offering the best price. If you are looking to save even more money (and who isn’t?), talk to your accountant about available federal and state tax credits.

Best Luxury Electric Car: 2018 Tesla Model S
$74,500 to 135,000
Driving Range: 260-335 miles

This is one of the best cars available in the world, period. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, accelerates and handles wonderfully, has all of the latest techs, and of course has plenty of room for your friends and your stuff — you can even select one with a third row if you choose. As U.S. News and World Reports put it, “the Model S straddles the line between a luxury sedan and a sports car — with an environmentally friendly twist.” Of course, for that kind of quality, you’re certainly going to pay: this car is well above two years’ pay for many families across the country. But if you have got money to spend and you’re looking for a vehicle you won’t regret buying, you need to check out this Tesla.

Best Eco Hybrid Vehicles

Best Compact Hybrid Car: 2018 Hyundai Ioniq
$22,200 to 28,300
MPG: 58
Driving Range: 151 miles

If you are not quite ready to commit to the plug, a hybrid car is a great option. Relying on both gas and electric power for fuel can help you save money at the pump and make the earth a little greener without dramatically changing your lifestyle. The Hyundai Ioniq is one of the most affordable hybrid cars on the market and delivers an impressive fuel efficiency rating that’s better than even the Toyota Prius. The interior is also built using eco-friendly materials, and there are a full 26.5 cubic feet of cargo space in the back. The lithium battery comes with a lifetime warranty and delivers a drive as smooth as any traditional compact car. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also named this vehicle as one of its Top Safety Picks.

Best Compact Hybrid SUV: 2018 Kia Niro
MPG: 49

Nowadays, you can get a seriously sporty SUV that gets nearly 50 miles to the gallon. The Niro is everything you could ever want in an SUV for an incredibly affordable price: it’s reliable, the cabin is chic and roomy, the car comes standard with modern and impressive infotainment systems, and there’s plenty of room for all of your stuff in the back.