Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pursuit of the perfect blend: The best hybrid cars of 2012

Check out our list of some of the best hybrid vehicles out now and coming soon.
Last week we brought you our list of some of the the most fuel-efficient (non-hybrid) cars money can buy. This week we’re back to give you a look at some of the best hybrid cars out now and coming soon. Whether you’re looking for a traditional hybrid like the Toyota Prius, or have the money (not oil) to burn on a luxury laden model like the Infiniti M Hybrid, there is something here for everyone. 


Toyota Prius C

2012 Toyota Prius C
Being the baby of the family can be both a curse and a blessing, thankfully the Prius C handles the expectations placed on its shoulders by its bigger, and older, siblings the Prius Liftback (standard Prius) and Prius V. While Toyota claims the “c” stands for city, it may as well stand for cheap as well because the Prius C is the most cost effective hybrid model today with an MSRP of less than $19,000. And considering its 53 mpg in the city, 46 mpg on the highway, and 50 mpg combined, the Prius C is one of the most attractive hybrids on the market.

Toyota Prius (Liftback)

2012 Toyota Prius
What can’t we say about the Prius? Now in its third generation and enjoying a 12 year spell at the summit of hybrid vehicles, the Prius is without question the most popular hybrid on the market, selling  1.2 million units in U.S  since its introduction back  in 2000 . On top of sporting a spacious cabin with a comfortable ride, the Prius possesses the uncanny ability to forgo even modest amounts of fuel and carries an EPA rating of 51 mpg city, 48 mpg on the highway, with a combined 50 mpg.

Honda Insight

Honda Insight
Generally speaking, being first to market gives you an edge over the competition, but unfortunately the Insight has bucked that trend. And although it has long-lived in the shadow of the successful Prius (and its ever growing Prius family) the Insight provides a nice alternative to Toyota’s troupe, even if its redesign bears a striking resemblance to its Japanese rival. Nevertheless fuel economy is the name of the game here and the Insight proves its chops with 41 mpg city, 44 mpg highway, and 42 combined making it one of the more attractive 5-door hatchback hybrids on the market.

Mid Size:

Ford Fusion Hybrid

2013 Ford Fusion
While the Ford Fusion Hybrid has proven itself a perennial petrol sipper since its introduction in 2009, it’s the upcoming redesigned 2013 Fusion that has our engines rumbling. Showcasing a truly impressive physique, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid will differentiate itself from its predecessor by swapping out its previous nickel-metal hydride batteries for lighter, energy efficient lithium-ion batteries instead. The result is a dashing hybrid that is estimated to achieve 47 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. In addition, the new Fusion will come packed with some truly impressive features such as driver assistance technologies and a dynamic lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control, an integrated blind spot information system, among others. We imagine Ford’s latest version of MyFord Touch will also slither its way into the Fusion as well.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Stylistically speaking the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a real eye catcher and vividly characterizes Hyundai’s relatively new “wind swept” design language sweeping across many of its models. Nevertheless it’s not all style and no substance for the Korean automaker. On top of pleasing aesthetics, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delivers excellent fuel economy, netting 35 city, 40 highway, and a combined 37 mpg all on its lithium polymer battery pack, and still manages to sneak in at an equally attractive price point of $25,795.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid
For those willing to forgo flair for function, the Toyota Camry Hybrid is perhaps the best option. While not a particularly stylish set of wheels the Camry Hybrid makes up for its lack of character by offering up workmanlike fuel economy. The standard Camry has been one of the most popular vehicles in the American automaker for years now, and it seems customers are not opposed to throwing down an extra $3,000 for a hybrid model. Especially when that hybrid model can deliver 44 mpg in the city, 44 on the highway, and 44 combined. In a segment that is generally all about those numbers preceding “mpg,” the Camry is truly one to be reckoned with.


Lexus CT 200h

Lexus CT 200h
Saving the planet is not a cheap endeavor — not if that endeavor involves buying a more eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle. As automakers quickly realized the willingness of the masses to spend green to go green, the not-so-long march to a premium branded hybrid was inevitable. Enter the Lexus CT200h. This stylish little entry-level premium hatchback signals the Japanese automaker’s continued effort to evolve and offer its hybrid drivetrain system in more than just its Toyota-badged vehicles. The CT200h stands out not only for its excellent fuel economy – which is estimated at 43 mpg city, 40 highway, and 42 combined – but for its dynamic handling, sporty ride, and compelling price point just south of $30,000.

Infiniti M Hybrid

Infiniti M Hybrid
While the luxury hybrid segment is still somewhat in its infancy, a moderate amount of choices exist for those willing to travel down this path. One such vehicle is the Infiniti M35h. Pairing a 3.5-liter V6 with an electric motor, the M hybrid is admittedly more fun than frugal, but despite its greater thirst for fuel the M does so with impressive efficiency, carrying an estimated 27 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway, and 29 combined.


Ford Escape Hybrid

Ford Escape Hybrid
It’s obvious that the majority of the hybrid scene is comprised of compacts and subcompacts of various ilks, but despite that reality there are those out there that require more heft and utility from their eco-minded vehicle. Enter the Ford Escape Hybrid. This fuel efficient crossover not only boasts some impressive numbers for its segment, try 34 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 32 combined, but also boasts a spacious tech-laden cabin and spirited road manners. The Escape hybrid may be getting a redesign for 2013, but the current crop on offer will provide a competent alternative to the diminutive hybrids frolicking about.

Toyota Prius V

Toyota Prius V
Completing our Prii trifecta is the Prius V. While technically not an SUV, we’re lumping the largest member of the Prius family in this category simply because we can; it’s our list. Regardless of classification, those needing some added flexibility with their fuel-efficiency will surely appreciate the V, which according to Toyota stands for “versatility” and not some misguided nod to what’s perhaps the worst Rocky film of all time. But we digress, and because it’s numbers we’re interested in the Prius V delivers with its EPA estimated 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 42 mpg combined rating. Add to that ample cargo space which sits at 34.3 cubic feet and balloons to 67.3 cubic feet with the rear seats down, and the Prius V encroaches on SUV-like utility.

Top Luxury/Performance pick:

Porsche Panamera S Hybrid

Porsche Panamera Hybrid
Admittedly this entry in our list is more about style, performance, and luxury than saving our wonderful Mother Earth. Chances are, if you’re up on the automotive totem pole so much so that you hardly bat an eye at the Panamera S Hybrid’s near $100,000 asking price we can’t imagine paying three, four, or even five dollars for a gallon of gas will cause you to lose much sleep at night, but the fact that Porsche has even delivered this vehicle is cause for praise. Sure upcoming legislation might have forced the company’s hand, but nevertheless in the Panamera S Hybrid we have a vehicle that few would consider turning down, even for more fuel efficient alternatives. Coincidently, Porsche’s hybrid doesn’t do too terribly in that department, delivering an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. Not bad considering its supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and electric motor produced 375 hp and 427 lb-ft of torque. Not bad at all.


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