5. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
> 2012 sales: 7,414
> Type: Hybrid
> Starting price: $25,850
> EPA fuel economy: 37 mpg (combined)
In 2011, after delaying the release of the Sonata Hybrid to remove a feature that would have allowed drivers to turn-off virtual engine noise, Hyundai sold 9,667 units. Halfway through 2012, the Sonata Hybrid appears to be on pace to exceed last year’s sales. The car is presently Hyundai’s only hybrid model and costs almost $5,000 more than the standard 2013 Sonata model. Though the hybrid has far better gas mileage, at 37 mpg versus 28 mpg for the regular Sonata, the hybrid’s annual fuel cost of $1,550 is only $500 less than that of the regular model.
4. Chevrolet Volt
> 2012 sales: 7,548
> Type: Plug-in Hybrid
> Starting price: $31,645
> EPA fuel economy: 37 mpg (combined)/98 mpg (equivalent) electric
The Volt is the country’s best-selling plug-in hybrid. After selling 6,096 units in 2011, Chevrolet may double sales in 2012, as it already sold more than 7,000 cars in the first six months of the year. The Volt has a range of just 38 miles when using electricity and 380 miles when using both electricity and gasoline. The annual fuel cost for the plug-in is only $950, according to Bureau of Energy calculations. The 2012 Volt earned accolades as a top safety pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
3. Lexus CT Hybrid
> 2012 sales: 8,647
> Type: Hybrid
> Starting price: $31,850
> EPA fuel economy: 42 mpg (combined)
Through the first six months of this year, the Lexus CT Hybrid has been the best-selling hybrid model made by any luxury brand. At a starting price only $205 higher than the Chevrolet Volt, it is also the cheapest of the five hybrids offered by Lexus. Not only relatively inexpensive and fuel efficient, the 2012 CT Hybrid was also an IIHS top safety pick. Despite these positives, Car and Driver’s review of the 2012 model described it as “painfully slow” and “an expensive Prius with better styling.” The CT Hybrid shares the same powertrain as the Prius, a less expensive hybrid manufactured by Lexus’ parent company, Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM).
2. Toyota Camry Hybrid
> 2012 sales: 21,466
> Type: Hybrid
> Starting price: $25,990 for Hybrid LE; $27,500 for Hybrid XLE
> EPA fuel economy: 41 mpg (combined) for Hybrid LE ; 40 mpg (combined) for Hybrid XLE
In the first half of 2012, Toyota sold more than 20,000 Camry Hybrids, which is more than twice as much as any hybrid model not made by Toyota. Sales of the car have declined in recent years. In 2008, Toyota sold 39,874 units, but only sold 8,157 in 2011. In 2012, however, sales have more-than doubled compared to 2011 in just six months. Two versions are available, the Hybrid LE and the Hybrid XLE. Both exceed 40 mpg, and neither has a starting price over $30,000. In reviewing the model, Edmunds.com noted that the model “shares all the attributes that make the conventional Camry one of the best-selling family sedans out there.”
1. Toyota Prius
> 2012 sales: 117,626
> Type: Hybrid and plug-in
> Starting price: $24,000
> EPA fuel economy: 50 mpg (combined)
The Prius is by far the best-selling alternative fuel vehicle in the United States, with total sales of well over 100,000 through June of this year alone. Four versions of the Prius are available, three hybrids — the standard version, the Prius C and Prius V– and one plug-in electric. Each of the four versions would a best-seller individually. Last year, the total number of sales for all four versions was 129,706, a figure Prius may well exceed this year. Owning one is relatively cheap. The only alternative-fuel model on this list with a lower starting price than the standard Prius is the Honda Insight, while no model is cheaper than the Prius C.
Alexander E. M. Hess and Michael B. Sauter
Correction: In a previous version of this article, we indicated that Tesla manufactured hybrid vehicles. In fact, Tesla only manufactures combustion-free vehicles.