While gasoline prices have remained low for quite a few months, fuel price isn’t the only reason consumers may be interested in buying or leasing electric or hybrid cars. Consider the fact that electric cars, as well as hybrid vehicles, contribute little to no pollutants to the atmosphere, are better for carbon footprint, and help reduce energy dependence – on other countries and on our own resources.

With this in mind, it’s worth taking a look at some of the newly redesigned and/or new 2016 and 2017 electric and hybrid cars (and SUVs, etc.) available now or in the near future.

2016 Chevrolet Volt – Completely redesigned for 2016, the Chevrolet Volt is a midsize plug-in hybrid hatchback. That means it can operate on battery electric power alone or run on gasoline power. Critics say the 2016 Chevy Volt is better in almost every aspect. Biggest news is the improved hybrid drive system. In addition, the interior is nicer, better designed, features easy-to-use controls, is made with high quality materials – although there are still a few hard plastic trim pieces – and it’s quiet.

2016 Chevrolet Volt-interior

Those who’ve shopped the Volt in the past and decided against it due to its former four-passenger seating quality should look at the plug-in hybrid again. The Volt seats five for 2016, a huge improvement that should boost purchase intention. As for cargo space, although the Volt has less than some other competitive plug-in hybrids, it has more than most of its competition.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

Perhaps the biggest improvement is in range: the 2016 Chevy Volt has an all-electric range of 53 miles. That’s better, say auto critics, than most plug-in hybrids. Fuel economy when operating in gasoline only mode is 43 mpg city/42 mpg highway, considered good for a vehicle of this type. Other Volt attributes warranting attention are its smooth ride, agile handling, sharp steering and strong brakes.

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X – The much-anticipated debut of the 2016 Tesla Model X thrilled some consumers and dismayed others. While those who yearned for another high-quality electric vehicle from Tesla got their wish, the price tag and availability of the new Model X put the damper on some enthusiasm. Still, there’s no denying the appeal of the Model X.

2016 Tesla Model X-P90D

A midsize crossover SUV, the 2016 Tesla Model X is an all-new model from Tesla. It features some of the same components as the Tesla Model S, just in a larger, crossover SUV version. Range is 257 miles and 0-60 mph is accomplished in 4.8 seconds in the 90D model. In the P90D, the range is projected to be 250 miles, with 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds. With the “Ludicrous” performance option, 0-60 mph time is 3.2 seconds. The 70D version has a 220-mile range and does 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds. All Model X versions feature a second electric motor to drive the front wheels, thus creating standard all-wheel drive system.

Available in six- or seven-passenger capacity, the 2016 Model X also has a unique rear door that facilitates getting in and out of the vehicle’s second and third row seats much easier. Another plus is that the Model X can tow up to 5,000 pounds, properly equipped.

2016 Tesla Model X

The luxury crossover electric vehicle is pricey, however, starting at $132,000 for the Model X 90D. The more performance version, the P90D, starts at $142,000. Pricing for the less-expensive 70D isn’t yet available.

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid – The midsize 2017 Kia Optima redesign doesn’t look all that different from the 2016 model. But there are subtle differences and major improvements in the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid, plus the addition of the 2017 Optima Plug-In Hybrid. Like Hyundai’s Sonata, this is the first time Kia has offered a plug-in hybrid.

Kia hopes for a 10 percent increase in fuel economy with the 2017 Optima Hybrid over the 2016 version. The 2016 Optima Hybrid has an EPA-estimated 36 mpg city/40 mpg highway/38 mpg combined fuel economy. Power source for the 2017 Optima Hybrid is a 154-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine matched with a six-speed automatic transmission and paired with a 38-kilowatt electric motor and 1.62-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

In the Optima Plug-In Hybrid, the powertrain is essentially the same, but uses a 50-kW electric motor and a 9.8-kWh battery pack. According to Kia, this larger battery pack allows for an electric-only range of 27 miles.

2017 Kia Niro

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle – Debuting alongside the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid and Optima Plug-In Hybrid at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle is an all-new subcompact crossover that has a dedicated platform and a planned plug-in version later in the vehicle’s life cycle.

2017 Kia Niro

The hybrid powertrain consists of an all-new 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine paired with a 43-horsepower transmission-mounted motor with a total horsepower output of 146 and 195 pound-feet of torque. Transmission is a six-speed dual-clutch. Kia says the hybrid gets a targeted 50 mpg fuel economy. Cargo volume is 25.5 cubic feet.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

2017 Chevrolet Bolt – An all-new crossover product from Chevrolet, and an electric vehicle at that, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt is getting ready for prime time when it’s available in late 2016. No other vehicle in this price range (an estimated $37,000 before federal tax incentives) comes close to the Bolt’s 200-plus miles on electric power. Put in perspective, that’s nearly double the Nissan Leaf’s EPA-estimated 107 miles per charge.

2017 Chevrolt Bolt-recharging

The Bolt’s electric motor, delivering 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, moves the vehicle from 0-60 mph in less than seven seconds. The rectangular-shaped 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack from LG spans the full length of the Bolt underbody. The available 240-volt charging unit allows for a full charge in 9 hours and up to an average of 25 miles of range per hour of charge.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

The Bolt also features the neat rearview mirror camera system (from the 2016 Cadillac CT6 and 2017 Cadillac XT5), 360-degree cameras, a 10.2-inch touchscreen, available navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s a total of 56.6 cubic feet of cargo space with rear seats folded flat and 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats.

2017 Toyota C-HR

2017 Toyota C-HR – Marking the Japanese automaker’s third hybrid crossover (after the Toyota Highlander and RAV4 hybrid versions), the production 2017 Toyota C-HR subcompact crossover made its world debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. The official U.S. debut is likely to occur at the 2016 New York Auto Show later this month.

2017 Toyota C-HR

What we know so far, in addition to the stunning exterior design, is that there will be a hybrid drivetrain that delivers 120 horsepower. The “C” stands for coupe, and “HR” for high-rider.

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