There are a number of ways to gauge a vehicle’s environmental friendliness. Driving eco-friendly or hybrid cars means you’ll get great miles per gallon.

These days, being eco-friendly is important to consumers, especially where driving is concerned. Aside from benefiting the planet, going green can be good for your wallet too. But what does it mean exactly, and how do modern hybrid cars play a role in moving the market to a place that’s better for everyone?

A New Frontier

Most vehicles on the road today rely on gasoline as the main source of propulsion. Hybrid cars combine, or outright replace, this older design with newer technology. Part of the reason for this is that consumers are looking to pay less at the pump, but it’s also the result of environmental mandates aimed to decrease pollution and reliance on foreign oil imports. Many companies focus on hybrid-electric solutions, but the term “hybrid” also encompasses alternative fuels like biodiesel, ethanol, and hydrogen, among others, as Consumer Energy Center explains. Many manufacturers are also retooling gas-based designs to compete with hybrids, even though they aren’t technically in the same category. Eco-friendliness is the common goal.

What Goes In

With gas prices on the rise again, fuel consumption is at the forefront of most peoples’ buying decision. Driving an eco-friendly vehicle inevitably means you’ll get excellent miles per gallon. A few notable standouts are the Nissan Versa and Dodge Dart Aero. These vehicles have enhanced engine design features such as turbo chargers and variable valve timing, which improve performance and maximize fuel economy. That all gets passed down to the consumer in the form of a substantially reduced gas bill over time. On the environmental side of things, better performance means lower emissions and less pollution for the rest of us. A win-win!

The Big Picture

Beyond mileage and emissions, the true measure of a vehicle’s eco-friendliness is dependent upon its entire Life Cycle Assessment. This “cradle to grave” analysis takes into account every part of the manufacturing process including materials and associated energy usage to determine the complete environmental impact. The Volkswagen Jetta has received attention for excelling in several categories and is another solid choice for anyone looking to go greener.

In the end, there are a number of ways to gauge a vehicle’s environmental friendliness, and most of the associated enhancements have a positive impact on the buyer’s bottom line. Even though models may cost a little more upfront, the price difference is made up over time in fuel savings.

Blair Lampe

About the AuthorBlair Lampe

Blair Lampe is a New York-based freelance writer and mechanic.  She travels frequently and on a budget, which she documents on her website TheGreyBeyond.