The Best Hybrid and Electric Cars

Paul Ausick

Tesla Model S
Source: Courtesy of Tesla Motors
There are about five dozen hybrid or all-electric cars available in the U.S. Of those, the editors of Kelley Blue Book chose 10 that they think are the best of the bunch.

Generally speaking, a hybrid car uses mechanical means — like a regenerative braking system — to charge up relatively small batteries to give the car a higher mileage rating. A plug-in hybrid has to be charged up at an electrical outlet and once the charge is depleted, the car runs on gasoline or other liquid fuel. An all-electric car uses only plug-power and typically has large batteries.

With that in mind, here’s the Kelley Blue Book list, together with some comments on U.S. sales from All of the cars belong in model year 2013. For all-electric models, mileage is computed on a miles per gallon equivalent basis, where one gallon of gasoline is equal to 33.7 kWh of electricity.

10. Lincoln MKZ — Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F)
Kelley’s editors say this hybrid car gets city/highway/combined mileage of 45/45/45. Ford sold 446 of these in the month of March and has sold a total of 723 to date in 2013.

9. Toyota Avalon – Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM)
According to Kelley’s editors the all-new hybrid Avalon gets city/highway/combined mileage of 40/39/40. Toyota sold 1,616 of these cars in March and 4,017 so far this year.

8. Honda Fit – Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC)
The Fit is an all-electric car with a range of 82 miles and gets city/highway/combined mileage equivalent of 132/105/118. Honda sold just 23 of the cars in the U.S. in March, and has sold only 46 so far this year.

7. Volkswagen Jetta – Volkswagen AG
The hybrid Jetta gets city/highway/combined mileage of 42/48/45 according to Kelley Blue Book. Only 451 cars were sold in March, with 955 sold so far this year.

6. Ford C-MAX Energi – Ford Motor Co.
A plug-in hybrid car that is rated at 100 miles per gallon equivalent for the first 21 miles and gets combined mpg of 43 for the next 599 miles. Ford has promoted this car heavily and sold 494 in March, with total sales in the first three months of the year of 1,166.

5. Toyota Prius Plug-in – Toyota Motor Corp.
Another plug-in hybrid. This one tallies the first 11 miles at 95 miles per gallon equivalent and the next 529 miles at 50 mpg combined. Toyota sold 786 of these in March, and 2,353 year-to-date.

4. Chevy Volt – General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM)
GM’s highly touted plug-in hybrid travels 38 miles on its batteries before the gasoline engine takes over, yielding the next 344 miles of driving at a combined mpg rating of 38. GM sold 1,478 Volts in March and has sold a total of 4,244 so far in 2013.

3. Ford Focus – Ford Motor Co.
The all-electric Focus has a total range of 76 miles, and the city/highway/combined mpg equivalent ratings are 110/99/105. Ford sold just 180 of the cars in March and a total of 419 year-to-date.

2. Tesla Model S – Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA)
The Model S sedan has a range of 265 miles and the city/highway/combined mpg equivalent ratigs are 88/90/89. Tesla claims to have sold about 1,950 of the cars in March.

1. Nissan Leaf – Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
The all-electric Leaf has a range of 75 miles and mpg equivalent ratings of 130/102/116. The Leaf is also the top-selling all-electric car in the U.S., with sales of 2,236 in March and 3,539 through the first six months of the year.