American drivers are becoming more aware and concerned about their overall impact on daily commutes, Sunday drive and the environment. More than half of the nation’s air pollution is caused by mobile sources, primarily automobiles, according to the EPA. Harmful fluids and air pollutants are continuously released by gas-powered vehicles, leading to poor air quality and public health concerns.
The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) revealed that the results of a recent federal study showed an astounding 73 percent of light duty vehicles could use electricity as fuel, without adding any generating capacity at all. Beyond the obvious benefit to the environment, adding more hybrid vehicles could go a long way in reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign fuel sources. But this still does not address the challenge many environmentally-conscious consumers have had over the years: Why must a vehicle which does so much good look so ugly?
Traditionally, hybrids have emphasized fuel economy and environmental friendliness while sacrificing style and power. But those were the hybrids of yesteryear.
Chevy’s answer to better fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness is the 2013 Chevy Volt. Touted as the best of both worlds, Volt owners no longer have to choose between electric or gas. Volt owners who regularly recharge their vehicle can get as much as 900 miles, on average, from just one tank of gas. Phoenix Chevrolet has an array of Volts starting around $36,000, but if you’re on the hunt for something a bit more powerful, be prepared to up the ante.
Photo of 2013 Chevy Volt by Overlaet via Wikimedia Commons
Lexus ES Hybrid
Last year, Lexus announced that it would offer, for the first time in the ES model’s 20-year history, a hybrid version of the Lexus ES Sedan. The 2013 ES 300h offers drivers an EPA-estimated 40 mpg, versus its 24 mpg traditional counterpart. The ES 300h has a 200-horsepower engine and operates using the far more efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT). For only $2,700 more than the traditional model, Lexus is betting ES 300h owners are going to love the way they look and feel in this luxurious, yet sporty, mid-level sedan.
Photo of 2013 Lexus ES by LotPro Cars via Flickr
Cadillac introduced the hybrid version of its stylish sport-utility back in model year 2008. And honestly, whether an owner goes with the traditional or the hybrid model, the 2013 Cadillac Escalade is sure to turn heads. The Escalade evolved in 2007 with its updated style, complete with chrome trim and updated grill. The vehicle sits on 22-inch chrome aluminum alloy wheels. Let’s be clear: this vehicle has not only rewritten what a hybrid vehicle looks like, it also doesn’t conform to the type of fuel economy consumers associate with hybrids. Honestly, it simply can’t. The Escalade weighs more than three tons, comfortably seats up to eight passengers and spans nearly 17 feet. The Escalade still manages to push its huge exterior down the highway at a very respectable 23 mpg.
Photo of 2013 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid by Thesupermat via Wikimedia Commons
Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid
When you like sports cars, you probably love anything Porsche. Arriving on the market in late 2010, Porsche redefined the luxury SUV hybrid by offering the market an eight-speed automatic as well as a 333 horsepower engine, combined with a 47 horsepower electric motor. True to its roots, the 2012 Cayenne S Hybrid can run at an impressive 86 mph on its electric engine. Not bad, Porsche, not bad at all.
Photo of 2012 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid by Morio via Wikimedia Commons
Hybrid buyers have spoken… and boy, did designers and engineers ever heed the call. If you have ever considered, then shied away from owning a Hybrid, look again.