Hot New Green Cars for 2011

Hot New Green Cars for 2011

Mass-market electric cars are finally here. The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt employ lithium-ion batteries that can power the cars without gasoline and recharge via plug-in wall stations. Hybrids are still running strong, with new models ranging from the Honda CR-Z and the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to the Lexus CT 200h. Volkswagen's redesigned Jetta and Touareg, meanwhile, continue to offer efficient diesel variants.

Green Cars for 2011
All cars are listed in alphabetical order and are from the 2011 model year.

The long-awaited Volt can run on electric power alone for 25 to 50 miles, at which point a gasoline engine kicks in to drive an electric generator. All told, the car's total range is 310 miles. A four-seat hatchback, the Volt starts just over $40,000, but it's eligible for a hefty $7,500 federal tax credit.

  • Plug-in battery-electric car

  • Gas-powered range-extending generator

  • Four-seat hatchback

  • 25- to 50-mile electric range

  • 310-mile gas-powered range

  • 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty


$19,200 - $20,760

Not since the original Honda Insight could you get a stick-shift hybrid. Honda brings it back in the form of the new CR-Z, a two-seat hybrid hatchback with sporty overtones and combined EPA gas mileage in the mid- to high 30s.

  • All-new hybrid model

  • Two-seat hatchback

  • Manual or automatic

  • Selectable drivetrain modes

  • Six airbags

  • 16-inch alloy wheels standard



With a number of styling distinctions versus its non-hybrid sibling, the Sonata Hybrid combines an electric motor and four-cylinder gasoline engine to manage a combined 209 horsepower and an EPA-estimated high-30s gas mileage. The car is capable of moving on electric power only at speeds up to 62 mph, according to Hyundai.

  • 2.4-liter gasoline engine, electric motor and lithium-polymer battery

  • New lights, larger air dam, aerodynamic wheels

  • Six-speed automatic transmission

  • Smaller trunk than non-hybrid Sonata

  • Enhanced instruments show additional information



Hot on the heels of the HS 250h, Lexus gets its second dedicated hybrid — meaning it's not a version of an existing car — in the CT 200h. A four-door hatchback, the CT 200h's gas-electric drivetrain makes modest horsepower but reaps combined EPA mileage in the low 40s. That makes it Lexus' most efficient model.

  • New for 2011

  • Four-door hatchback

  • Hybrid drivetrain

  • Available Pre-Collision System

  • FWD


$32,780 - $33,720

Nissan's first mass-market electric car for the U.S., the five-seat Leaf hatchback employs an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. It has no engine-generator, as the Volt does, but the battery allows for roughly 100 miles' range. A federal tax credit knocks $7,500 off the car's price, putting it in the realm of affordable hybrids like the Toyota Prius.

  • Pure battery-electric car

  • Five-seat compact hatchback

  • 100-mile range

  • 90 mph top speed

  • Programmable charge time

  • Buy or lease


$22,995 - $24,730

Volkswagen's redesigned Jetta sedan is a bit larger than its predecessor. Like before, VW offers a clean-diesel version with mid-30s combined gas mileage — about 25 percent better than most gasoline Jettas. A Jetta TDI wagon is available, but for 2011 it's a carryover from the prior generation.

  • 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder

  • Manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission

  • Sedan is redesigned; wagon remains prior generation



A new eight-speed automatic and lighter materials shaved some 450 pounds off the redesigned Touareg. Like before, Volkswagen will offer a turbo-diesel V-6 with a combined 22 mpg in EPA ratings. That's 2 mpg better than last year's diesel Touareg, and 3 mpg better than the gasoline 2011 Touareg.

  • Redesigned for 2011

  • Larger but lighter than before

  • Turbocharged diesel V-6

  • Standard AWD

  • Five seats


© 11/1/2010