These are our three favorite cars that are fun and frugal in one package.
Electrified vehicles have come a long way in a short time, transitioning from dreary econoboxes to genuine objects of desire. The Carbuzz Save The Planet award goes to the hybrid or electric vehicle that combines excellent efficiency with other less tangible features such as quality, desirability, and enjoyability. So rather than picking the car with the best MPG figures, we chose three finalists with more to offer than low fuel costs.
In the award's inaugural year, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid took home the win by managing 40 mpg without sacrificing practicality. This year, vehicles that just missed the cut include the Honda CR-V Hybrid, Lexus UX Hybrid, Toyota Corolla Hybrid, Toyota Venza, and Volvo S60 T8. The winner of our Save The Planet award will be announced on December 21.
Here are this year's finalists:
Following a complete redesign for the 2020 model year, Hyundai reintroduced its midsize Sonata sedan's hybrid variant. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid manages to retain its gas-only counterpart's attractive styling while offering similar power. It relies on a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower, which, combined with an electric motor, develops a total output of 192 hp. Not only is the Sonata Hybrid plenty powerful, but it delivers Prius-rivaling fuel economy of 52-mpg on the combined cycle.
These figures are even more astonishing considering that the Sonata is a midsize sedan with a roomy back seat and a spacious trunk, not a tiny compact model with a cramped cabin. Inside, Hyundai's interior designers have worked their magic, making the Sonata Hybrid feel almost worthy of a luxury badge. The Sonata Hybrid is also an attractive value proposition starting at $27,750 in the Blue trim and topping out at $35,300 for the Limited.
Hyundai is a first-time contender for our Save The Planet prize, with the 2020 Palisade winning last year's Family Fun award.
The 2021 RAV4 Prime is the first RAV4 model to offer a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. It uses the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine found in the hybrid, but with a larger battery and more powerful electric motors, the drivetrain now produces a whopping 302 hp. Not only is the Prime the most powerful RAV4 ever, but it is also the second-fastest Toyota model behind only the Supra.
The RAV4 Prime manages 38 mpg combined with a usable 42-mile all-electric driving range. It is the most expensive RAV4 model with a $38,100 starting price that can balloon to well over $40,000 with options. Buyers do receive a $7,500 tax credit, though. Having won last year's Save The Planet award with the RAV4 Hybrid, Toyota hopes to make it two straight wins with the RAV4 Prime.
While Tesla appeared as a finalist last year, Porsche's new EV entrant looks to make people forget all about Elon Musk. While our time in the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo was brief, it made a huge first impression. The "regular" Taycan Turbo packs a whopping 670 hp, while the Turbo S variant breaks spines with 750 hp. Proving once and for all that electric cars are no longer boring, the Taycan Turbo S rockets to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds with the most savage launch control we've ever experienced in a car. Porsche has proved that electric cars can match (and exceed) the excitement and thrill of a gas-engined car.
The Taycan Turbo's 201-mile range (192 for the Turbo S) has proven to be a conservative figure, while the lesser 4S model manages a more usable 288-mile driving distance. Porsche may have created the ultimate expression of what an electric sports car should feel like, but with a $103,800 starting price for the 4S, only the ultra-wealthy will be able to experience it.