Going green this spring doesn’t have to mean buying an electric car

Spring seems a particularly good time to write about green cars.

Not the color green, which we covered in our St. Patrick’s Day blog post. And not green as in the color of the money shoppers might save by purchasing a vehicle with a lower price tag – new or used.

In this case, we’re talking about green as in environmentally friendly, which generally means vehicles with high fuel mileage. Notice, we didn’t say high GAS mileage, since the greenest, most environmentally friendly vehicles are electric – not gasoline or diesel powered. We also don’t want to create any confusion with natural gas-powered vehicles, which also are available.

Still, most shoppers buy gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles, so that’s where we’ll concentrate here.

That knocks out the 10 most fuel-efficient vehicles (and then some) from the Honda Civic Hybrid and Lexus CT 200h Premium at 40 mpg overall to the BMW i3 Giga at a stupendous 139 mpg overall.

Here’s the list we culled from Consumer Reports data, including mpg and vehicle category:

smart fortwo Passion, hatchback, 39 mpg combined city/highway

Mitsubishi Mirage ES, subcompact, and Volkswagen Passat TDI SE diesel, midsize, both 37 mpg

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI, wagons & hatchbacks, 36 mpg

Ford Fiesta SE (3 cylinder), subcompact, and BMW 328d xDrive diesel, both 35 mpg

Scion iQ, subcompact; Volkswagen Jetta TDI, compact, and Fiat 500c Pop, sporty/roadster, all 34 mpg

Mazda2 Sport (manual), Honda Fit EX, Ford Fiesta SE sedan, all subcompacts; Mazda3 i Touring sedan and Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel, compacts, and Fiat 400 Sport, all 33 mpg.

Obviously, if we considered alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids the list would change dramatically. However, sales of alternative-fuel vehicles barely topped 3.5 million in 16 years, and last year represented only about 2.75 percent of nearly 17 million new cars sold in the United States.

The most successful entry by far has been the Toyota Prius, which held nearly 50 percent market share in 2014 and has sold about 1.5 million through December 2014.

Vehicles with the worst fuel mileage? That list comprises names such as Bugatti, Aston Martin, Bentley, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Infiniti and Chevrolet (Camaro), with combined fuel mileage ranging from 10 mpg (Bugatti Veyron) to 20 mpg (two versions of the Infinity QX50).

But, clearly, if you want to drive green starting this spring, there are plenty of affordable options. If you think we missed one that should be on the list, go to our Facebook post and weigh in.

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