I live in Atlanta, where it’s nearly impossible to do anything without a car; and even with our Honda Civic, which has about 32 miles to the gallon, I feel like we could be doing better to protect our environment. But I had always assumed that buying an environmentally friendly car would be too expensive for us, so I set out to find the five cheapest hybrid cars that fit my needs. I also looked for cars that are rated highly for safety and would be similarly sized or bigger than a Honda Civic.
1. Honda Accord Hybrid
Since I’ve long driven a Honda, I wanted to check Honda’s options first. The Accords aren’t what they used to be; they are roomy and sleek. With an average of 48 mpg and a fuel tank capacity of 14.8 gallons, I feel like this would take us far. It has excellent safety ratings from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, and I feel confident in its longevity and reliability. But $29,605 is a bit much for me, so I kept searching.
2. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
With one kid already, I have a feeling we may need a bigger car. The Toyota RAV4 offers a hatchback trunk and the ability to fold the seats down in a way that our current car doesn’t. It’s only slightly taller than the Honda Accord, but has significantly more space behind the second row of seats, and it would allow me to tow up to 1,750 pounds, which I can’t do with the Accord. It has an estimated average of 32 mpg for fuel efficiency. That isn’t great, but it makes sense, since it’s a bigger car. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starts at $29,030, which is still somewhat high.
3. Kia Optima Hybrid
The Kia Optima Hybrid caught my attention because of its high safety rating and high fuel efficiency: 39 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway, which averages out to 42 mpg. My cars have never been fancy, but being able to open the trunk when you stand behind it with the smart key would be fabulous for when I’m carrying my child or grocery bags. The MSRP is $25,995 for the standard options of the premium model.
4. Ford Fusion
The Ford Fusion is similar in size to the Accord, and if I want to support a U.S. company, this would be a great option. It looks nice, though not as sleek as the Accord. But it’s cheaper, with a $25,295 MSRP. It has an estimated average fuel efficiency of 42 mpg. That isn't quite as good as the Accord, but it's pretty close!
5. Toyota Prius
The biggest name in hybrid cars also happens to be the cheapest, with a starting price of $24,295. I test-drove a Toyota Prius and liked the way it felt. It was smooth and roomy, and I knew I would be helping the environment by getting one. These cars are also highly rated for safety, and I can’t say I didn’t swoon a bit when I heard that it has an estimated average fuel efficiency of 52 mpg.
Other Tips to Find Cheap Hybrid Cars
There are cheaper options (you can compare prices on sites like Edmunds). For example, at $20,150, the Toyota Prius C is one of the least expensive options on the market. Unfortunately, it’s too small for my needs. A single person living in a city would be a better consumer. I could also buy a used car. There are tons of used hybrids in my area, like the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Honda Insight LX, Honda CR-Z, Prius C Two, and others. All of them sell for under $15,000 and have fewer than 60,000 miles on them. So that could be an option, too, if I am unable to buy a new car.