12 Greenest Cars of 2009


If I had it my way, we’d all travel around town on horseback. But as much as I like to dream of a time when grass was sufficient fuel, that’s hardly a feasible mode of transportation in an age of advanced technology and long daily commutes. Still, there are plenty of green (well, greener) options for the environmentally conscious. Ever since that sad day when General Motors crushed the last EV1, automobile companies have taken strides in the right direction to create vehicles that cause the planet less harm. So, if you’re due for a new ride, consider one of the most eco-friendly cars released this year.

Tesla Roadster

The electric car is back in ultimate style with the sporty Tesla Roadster. You can travel an impressive 220 miles before recharging this state-of-the-art vehicle. The only problem? It will set you back a whopping $100,000. So, until you win the lottery or stumble upon a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, let’s move on to the more reasonable choices.

Aptera 2e

This futuristic electric vehicle is much more affordable than the Tesla Roadster, with a starting price of around $25,000. In addition to its electric motor that runs 100 miles per charge, the Aptera 2e boasts interior and exterior LED lighting and solar assisted climate control. Unfortunately, it’s currently only available to California residents through a somewhat lengthy reservation process.

Toyota Prius

At 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 on the highway, the Toyota Prius is one of the most fuel efficient vehicles around. With an annual CO2 rating of 1,968 kilograms, this hybrid holds first place on MSN’s list of the Least Polluting Vehicles of 2009. It also offers eco-friendly features like a solar-powered ventilation system and LED headlamps and taillights.

Honda Civic Hybrid

Competing closely with the Toyota Prius when it comes to fuel efficiency, the Honda Civic Hybrid gets 40 miles per gallon in the city and 45 on the highway. It also has the second lowest annual CO2 rating of 2,160 kilograms.

Honda Insight Hybrid

With a base price of just over $20,000, the Honda Insight is the least expensive hybrid on the market today. This fuel-efficient vehicle gets 40 miles per gallon in the city and 43 on the highway.

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Of all mid-size sedans, the Ford Fusion Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient. It averages 41 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway.

Smart Fortwo

The Smart Fortwo, more commonly known as the smart car, averages 33 miles per gallon in the city and 41 on the highway, making it the most fuel-efficient car powered solely by gasoline. Coming in third, it produces a yearly CO2 rating of 2,592 kilograms. Plus, this ultra-low emission vehicle’s white, black and red models are painted with a water-soluble solution. (Our editor is currently out of town picking up her very own Smart Car – she’ll be posting a review soon!)

Nissan Altima Hybrid

With the fifth lowest CO2 rating of 2,784 kilograms per year, the Nissan Altima Hybrid gets 35 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway. In this super ultra low emissions vehicle, you can drive up to 600 miles before you need to stop for a refill.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

At 33 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway, the Toyota Camry Hybrid is a fuel-efficient vehicle that features a notable yearly CO2 rating of 2,736 kilograms, making it the fourth least polluting vehicle of 2009.

Volkswagon Jetta TDI

Winner of the 2009 Green Car of the Year award, the Volkswagon Jetta TDI is powered by ultra-low sulfur diesel. At 30 miles per gallon in the city and 41 on the highway, this vehicle utilizes clean diesel technology and produces 3,240 kilograms of CO2 annually, placing thirteenth on MSN’s list.

Ford Escape Hybrid

At 34 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway, the Ford Escape Hybrid has the corner on fuel-efficient sports utility vehicles. Coming in at sixth place, it is the only one to rank on MSN’s lowest annual CO2 ratings at 2,928 kilograms.

Toyota Yaris

With the seventh lowest rating, the Toyota Yaris generates approximately 3,072 kilograms of CO2 per year. It also features a fuel-efficiency of 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway.

Image: Ed Yourdon