It’s a whole new year and 2011 is shaping up to be filled with the best green cars available to consumers ever. The technology includes electric, hybrid electric, E85 ethanol, CNG, stop-start, diesel – even fuel-efficient gasoline-powered small cars.

Check out this list of the best green cars for 2011 – you may find there are a few surprises.

  • 2011 Toyota PriusSure, it’s the grandaddy of hybrids, and has the most world-wide recognition. With its starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of

    $22,800 for the third-generation midsize 2011 Toyota Prius, and EPA-estimated fuel economy of 51 mpg city/48 mpg highway, this hybrid is definitely green. There’s even a plug-in hybrid (PHV) Prius on the horizon, expected to launch in 2012. Edmunds comments: “There are plenty of choices for a green car this year. But when it comes to high fuel economy, plenty of versatility and a reasonable price, the 2011 Toyota Prius cannot be beat.”

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt Just introduced, and named the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt is a midsize extended range electric vehicle.

    That means the car travels gas- and emissions-free for most commutes. The gas-powered onboard generator provides up to 375 miles total driving range. So there’s no range anxiety – drivers will not need to fear running out of  “juice.” EPA-estimated MPGe is 93 miles (on electric), and 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway (on gasoline). Volt’s MSRP is quite a bit higher than other hybrids, starting at $40,280, but Federal tax savings of up to $7,500 and applicable state incentives bring that cost down to more reasonable levels.  Left Lane News observes: “The Volt has the pace and the flexibility to be a primary car for nearly everyone, unlike its chief EV rival, the Nissan Leaf.”

  • 2011 Nissan Leaf – U.S. News and World Report says, “The green revolution is underway, and the 2011 Leaf, Nissan’s first 100% electric vehicle is helping usher it in.” Make no mistake about Leaf’s passenger-carrying capabilities, however, as it is a small car. While it Nissan Leaf

    technically seats five, it’s probably best regarded as a spacious two-seater, since the backseat is one of Leaf’s biggest drawbacks. Starting MSRP is $32,780, but Federal tax savings and potential state incentives bring that cost down. Leaf, like the Chevrolet Volt, is only available in selected states in 2011, and is expected to roll out nationwide after that.

  • 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid Many reviewers call the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid one of the best green cars available. It’s relatively inexpensive, with a starting

    MSRP of $28,240, gets an EPA-estimated 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway, carries five passengers, and has plenty of standard and optional features sure to please families. Consumer Guide notes: “Our favorite Fusion is the Hybrid because of its smooth, quiet operation and outstanding fuel economy… Ford’s midsize sedan is a Best Buy…” Note that corporate siblings, the 2011 Mercury Milan Hybrid and 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid offer the same stellar fuel economy numbers.

  • 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid With its 1.3-liter four-cyinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT), the 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid manages to achieve an EPA-estimated 40 mpg city/43 mpg highway (and is designated an EPA Smart Way Elite vehicle). Chief attributes include stylish exterior, quality interior and decent handling – although cargo capacity trails that of other hybrids. Starting MSRP is $23,950.

Other best green cars to consider include the 2011 Honda CR-Z, Chevrolet Cruze Eco, Ford Fiesta SFE, and Toyota Camry Hybrid.

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