The Ten Best “Green Cars” for the Price

If you actually heed John Edwards’ suggestion to give up your SUV, you probably won’t look for the least expensive green car on the market. SUV prices range anywhere from $16,005 for the 2007 Chevrolet HHR to $107,500 for the 2007 Mercedes-Benz G-Class. If you have the budget to afford any car in that range, then you won’t flinch when faced with the $19,692 – $23,220 price tag for the world’s number one selling hybrid car, the Toyota Prius. Nor will you hesitate to dig until you find the price of the fastest green car to date, the Dodge Viper SRT10 Roadster that runs on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Unfortunately, prices remain high across the board for any environmentally friendly car. The least expensive green car currently on the American market is the 2007 Hyundai Accent GLS 4-Door with a price tag that carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $12,925. But, according to Yahoo’s “Top 100 Cars by Green Rating,” the Hyundai comes in at number 22 with a green rating of 75. This car is gasoline-powered, as are all the cars listed below (which means your gas rewardcards will still earn points). This screening shows that a frugalist may have to bite the bullet and spend more than $18,000 for a hybrid.

Until you’re ready for that financial trauma, you can assuage your environmental guilt with the following ten gasoline-powered yet “green” vehicles that are all priced under $19,000. The following list is offered in order from least to most expensive based upon Yahoo’s MSRP. Information about engines, horsepower, torque, mph in city and on the highway, and fuel tank capacity and range are all included with each vehicle.

1. 2007 Kia Rio SX (MSRP $13,495)


1_kia_rio         Although the Rio shares its platform with the Hyundai Accent, it feels sportier, thanks to subtle chassis tweaks. Other additions include a new alloy wheels design, new shift knobs for the manual and automatic transmissions, and an illuminated ignition surround. The Kia Rio SX (Manual) was last redesigned in 2006; no information is currently available on upcoming changes. For a bare-bones car with a low price, it’s surprisingly roomy, refined, and good-looking front-engine, front-drive, 4-door, 5-passenger sedan. The Kia Rio SX ranks at twenty-one on the Yahoo 100 list, with a green rating of 75.

  • Engine: Standard 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4
  • Horsepower: 110 @ 6000 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 107 @ 4500 RPM
  • City (mpg): 32
  • Hwy (mgp): 35
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 11.9 gal/381 mi

2. 2007 Toyota Yaris S (MSRP $13,525)


2_toyota_yaris_sAll new to the U.S. in 2007, the front-engine, front-drive; 4-door, 5-passenger sedan Yaris is Toyota’s cheapest machine in Toyota’s green lineup. The gasoline-powered Yaris S sedan, unlike the three-door Yaris hatchback and the four-door Yaris sedan, gets extra body cladding, bigger 15-inch wheels and a CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack. The 5-speed manual overdrive is standard, with an optional 4-speed automatic overdrive. This car ranks at seven out of 100 at Yahoo with a green rating of 77.

  • Engine: Standard 1.5-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4 (Toyota’s latest VVT-i technology)
  • Horsepower: 106 @ 6000 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 103 @ 4200 RPM
  • City (mpg): 27
  • Hwy (mgp): 34 – 37
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 11.1 gal/377 mi

3. 2007 Kia Rio5 SX (MSRP $13,750)


3_kia_rio5This Hyundai Accent clone is the smallest of Kias offered on the market this year. You’ll find hatchback utility in this front-engine, front-drive, 5-door, 5-passenger sedan. TheRio5
is among the lowest priced vehicles sold in the U.S., but Kia strives to offer a full-feature vehicle with a stylish appearance. The Kia Rio5 SX ranks fifteenth out of 100 on the Yahoo list, with a green rating of 75.

  • Engine: Standard 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4
  • Horsepower: 110 @ 6000 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 107 @ 4500 RPM
  • City (mpg): 32
  • Hwy (mgp): 35
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 11.9 gal/381 mi

4. 2007 Honda Fit Sport 5-Spd MT (MSRP $15,170)


4_honda_fitNew to the U.S. market, the front-engine, front-drive; 5-door, 5-passenger Fit wagon leads a growing platoon of new subcompacts intended to keep soaring fuel prices at bay. The gasoline-powered Fit blends agility with a roomy, upscale interior and clever cargo versatility. The Fit is a popular model in Japan and Europe, where it is sold as the Honda Jazz. The 5-speed manual overdrive is standard, with the 5-speed automatic overdrive as an option. The Honda Fit Sport 5-Spd MT ranks fourteenth out of 100 on the Yahoo list, with a green rating of 76.

  • Engine: Standard 1.5-liter SOHC 16-valve inline-4
  • Horsepower: 109 @ 5800 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 105 @ 4800 RPM
  • City (mpg): 33
  • Hwy (mgp): 38
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 10.8 gal/356 mi

5. 2007 Toyota Corolla LE (MSRP $15,515)


5_toyota_corolla_leToyota has successfully and consistently sold the Corolla in the U.S. since 1969, and this car remains one of the most popular Toyota vehicles. Although not fast or extremely exciting to drive, it is very predictable. Expect a redesign for 2008. This 2007 front-engine, front-drive, 4-door, 5-passenger sedan comes with a 5-speed manual overdrive with optional 4-speed automatic overdrive. The gasoline-powered Toyota Corolla LE ranks thirteenth on the Yahoo 100 list, with a green rating of 76.

  • Engine: Standard 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4
  • Horsepower: 126 @ 6000 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 122 @ 4200 RPM
  • City (mpg): 32
  • Hwy (mgp): 41
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 13.2 gal/422 mi

6. 2007 Honda Civic Sedan DX 5-Spd AT (MSRP $15,810)


6_honda_civic_sedanThe eighth generation of this perennial bestseller was introduced last year, but the cost-cutting that was apparent in the most recent Civics is nowhere to be seen in the new offerings. The Honda Civic DX AT is a gasoline-powered, front-engine, front-drive; 4-door, 5-passenger sedan. The 5-speed automatic overdrive is standard in the AT sedan, but no manual overdrive is available. The Honda Civic Sedan DX 5-Spd AT rates sixteenth out of 100 on the Yahoo list, with a green rating of 75.

  • Engine: Standard 1.8-liter SOHC 16-valve inline-4
  • Horsepower: 140 @ 6300 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 128 @ 4300 RPM
  • City (mpg): 30
  • Hwy (mgp): 40
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 13.2 gal/396 mi

7. 2007 Kia Spectra SX (MSRP $15,995)


7_kia_spectraLoaded with features, the gasoline-powered Kia Spectra SX received new front fascia styling with integrated front spoiler this year, including a revised grille, headlights, bumper and new standard 16-inch alloy wheels. Additionally, the Spectra doesn’t feel like a compact economy car. The SX comes with 5-speed manual overdrive, but now has a new 4-speed automatic transmission available as an option. The SX is roomy with great road manners for a front-engine, front-drive, 4-door, 5-passenger sedan. The Kia Spectra SX ranks twentieth out of 100 on the Yahoo 100 list, with a green rating of 75.

  • Engine: Standard 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4
  • Horsepower: 138 @ 6000 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 136 @ 4500 RPM
  • City (mpg): 25
  • Hwy (mgp): 33
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 14.0 gal/350 mi

8. 2007 Ford Focus 5-Door Hatchback SES (MSRP $16,775)


8_ford_focusFord offers a combination of a formal station wagon and a five-door hatchback with this front-engine, front-drive, 5-passenger sedan. The 2007 gasoline-powered Ford Focus 5-door hatchback is a carryover from 2006. A 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard, and a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is optional. This car ranks five out of 100 at Yahoo with a green rating of 77.

  • Engine: Standard 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4
  • Horsepower: 136 @ 6000 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 136 @ 4250 RPM
  • City (mpg): 27
  • Hwy (mgp): 37
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 14.0 gal/378 mi

9. 2007 Hyundai Elantra Limited (MSRP $16,895)


9_hyundai_elantraThe fourth-generation gasoline-powered Elantra follows Hyundai’s success formula in its all-new 2007 version. Even base models come with standard ABS, power mirrors, power windows, and six airbags. The latest front-engine, front-drive; 4-door, 5-passenger sedan Elantra Limited is bigger than the previous edition, and it seats four adults comfortably. The Hyundai Elantra Limited ranks eleventh on the Yahoo 100 list, with a green rating of 76.

  • Engine: Standard 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4
  • Horsepower: 138 @ 6000 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 136 @ 4600 RPM
  • City (mpg): 28
  • Hwy (mgp): 36
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 14.0 gal/392 mi

10. 2007 MINI Cooper HT (MSRP $18,050)


10_mini_cooper_htThe new gasoline-powered MINI for 2007 is remarkably similar to the previous model. The major differences in the 2007 model are the new 2.36” longer body that was changed to meet European Union pedestrian impact standards, a steering system that is now electrically assisted, and a sports suspension with up-rated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars available for any model. You’ll also see new sheet metal, chassis, and safety equipment. Interior space is increased everywhere except for rear seat passengers. A 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard, and a 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is optional. The MINI Cooper HT ranks tenth out of 100 on the Yahoo list, with a green rating of 76.

  • Engine: Standard 1.6L 118 hp I4 (utilizes technology from parent BMW)
  • Horsepower: 118 @ 6000 RPM
  • Torque (lb-ft): 114 @ 4250 RPM
  • City (mpg): 32
  • Hwy (mgp): 40
  • Fuel-Tank Capacity/Range: 13.2 gal/356 mi

Conclusion


Yahoo doesn’t carry the last word on green vehicles, as other ratings exist that will show that the Prius is, by far, the best environmentally-friendly car for the price. This vehicle combines an electric motor with a powerful engine to create a car that runs like any other conventional vehicle. Yet, you can see returns down the road with its exceptional fuel efficiency.

Other vehicles, like the Volkswagen Touran, provide green efficiency to European countries, but not to U.S. citizens. Many Volkswagen Tourans have a fuel cell drive system that do not create exhaust emissions. While a bit pricier than the cars shown in the list above, the price tag for this car may be just a bit more than the Prius if it were sold in America. As with any supply-demand economic situation, the best green cars cost more because there are fewer in existence. As demand rises, the price may come down, but don’t expect that situation to occur within the next year or two.

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