Green cars are in but they aren't cheapKelley Blue Book, the people who specialize in publishing car prices, just ranked what their editors view as the top-10 green vehicles "worthy of buyer consideration," as Kelley puts it.

The list doesn't rank vehicles based on fuel efficiency. The decision was more touchy-feely than that. While these vehicles are required to have fuel economy and low C02 emissions as compared to other vehicles in their class, the real test is apparently their creature comforts and handling.

The list supplied by Kelley doesn't provide the cost of the cars, so I looked that up on the site and was amazed at the premium a driver pays for being green.
For instance, the difference in price between a Ford Fusion Hybrid and a conventional, similarly equipped Ford Fusion is $3,163. The hybrid gets 39 mpg while the conventional sedan gets 27 mpg. If gas is $2.50 per gallon and I drive either Fusion 15,000 miles per year, I would have to own the hybrid 7.5 years to come out ahead.

Detroit automakers aren't the only ones in this situation. The difference in price between a Toyota Highlander Hybrid and a similarly equipped conventional model is $5,358. The hybrid gets 26 mpg while the conventional sedan gets 20 mpg. Again, if gas is $2.50 per gallon and I drive the Highlander 15,000 miles per year, I would have to own the hybrid more than 12 years for the hybrid to be the cheaper option.

Sure, gas prices may go up, but there are other unknowns in this equation just because we don't have a track record, including reliability, cost to repair and depreciation. So the bottom line boils down to this, if you want to be green because you think you are saving the earth, buy a hybrid. If you want to save money, stay with conventional technology and even consider a used conventional car. Even used hybrids are significantly more expensive overall than conventional vehicles, Kelley calculates in this thorough analysis.

Here are the top-10 cars on Kelley's list and the cost to buy them:
  1. Toyota Prius, 50 mpg (51 city, 48 highway), $21,042 for the four-door I hatchback
  2. Honda Insight, 41 mpg (40 city, 43 highway), $19,895 for the four-door LX hatchback
  3. Ford Fusion Hybrid, 39 mpg (41 city, 36 highway), 4-door Hybrid Sedan, $27,528
  4. Volkswagen Golf TDI, 34 mpg (30 city, 42 highway), 4-door TDI Hatchback, $23,590
  5. MINI Cooper, 32 mpg (28 city, 37 highway), two-door hatchback, manual transmission, $19,305
  6. Ford Escape Hybrid, 32 mpg (34 city, 31 highway), Sport utility 2-wheel drive, $29,973
  7. Honda Fit, 31 mpg (28 city, 35 highway), 4-door hatchback, automatic, $17,790.00; 4-door hatchback, 5-speed manual, $15,454
  8. BMW 335d (for diesel), 27 mpg (23 city, 36 highway), 4-door 335d sedan, $43,928
  9. Toyota Highlander Hybrid, 26 mpg (27 city, 25 highway), 4-door, V-6, all-wheel drive $33,558
  10. Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, 22 mpg (21 city, 22 highway), 4-door sport utility, V-8, 2-wheel drive; $51,153, 4-door sport utility, V-8, 4-wheel drive, $53,930

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