15 Eco-Friendly Cars: You Can Afford to Go Green Today

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Many people believe that they simply cannot afford to go green. Not everyone lives in an area where they can walk to work, or even drive less, and most are under the impression that any car able to make a difference is just too expensive to consider. While it’s true that many eco-friendly practices can be difficult to implement, it’s not all glamor and glitz. These 15 green cars are all currently available, not one of them over the $17,000 range. If you’re one of the millions who are forced to commute day after day but can only afford half the nearly $30,000 price tag that comes with a hybrid, this is for you.

Break the Habit: 28-30 MPG

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(images via thetorquereport, easyautosales, orbitcast)

Breaking into the super-efficient range can be easier and more fun than you’d think. Starting at under $14,000 for a base model, the Suzuki SX4 saves loads of fuel at 30 MPG while still letting you have plenty of fun in the process. The Kia Spectra ups the comfort zone a bit, with a slight increase in price, but maintains the 30 MPG bracket quite nicely while staying in the $15,000 price range. A little beefier in both its engine and pricetag, the Scion xB still makes the cut at 28 MPG and $17,000.

Making an Impact: 31-32 MPG

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(images via japanesesportscars, automotive, zcars)

Here we really start seeing results. A bare-bones Nissan Versa can be nabbed for as low as $10,000 and gives an outstanding 31 MPG. A major upset in any mileage list, the Toyota Matrix brings a sporty aspect with its 32 MPG rating, at a reasonable cost of $16,000. The Mazda 3 comes in at around $15,000 and gives the feel of a more normalized sport-compact while also sporting a 32 MPG rating.

Beyond Reproach: 33-34 MPG

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(images via cheryltay, theautochannel, autospectator, joealcokekia)

This range is where the new national requirements will be taking everyone in the near future. Chevy made the cut with its Aveo, at around $12,000 this 34 MPG car is a steal. Not to be outdone, Hyundai’s Accent can be found for as low as $10,000 and it rates at 33 MPG. Pontiac surprised everyone with the G3, which rates an impressive 34 MPG at under $15,000, while the Kia Rio can be a little cheaper than that with 33 MPG.

Stay Focused: 35 MPG

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(images via motortrend, papundits, autonewscast, myride)

At 35 MPG, these cars are exceeding standards that aren’t yet in effect. The sporty Chevy Cobalt starts at under $15,000, with a small sedan available. The Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris are making waves for their versatility while occupying the $15,000 range with options. The real surprise in this bracket is the Ford Focus, which in its sedan form is considerably larger than the rest of its competitors and also has a healthy options line-up for a starting price of $15,000.

Hybrid? What Hybrid? 41 MPG

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(image via iroel)

Perhaps best known for being the newest golden-child of the green-car revolution, the Smart ForTwo is the smallest car on the American market today. That doesn’t make it less roomy inside for its occupants, since it’s a coupe. This car was purpose-built to break the system. More akin to the cars that can be found on the streets of Mumbai than those of Los Angeles, the ForTwo is not only tiny but also stylish, and it can be bought for under $10,000. At 41 MPG, this car manages to attain what only hybrids have been able to boast to date, and it does it at literally a third of the price.

These cars all show that it’s not only possible to make changes for the green initiative, but that it’s affordable as well. Not everyone can afford the newest eco-tech, but they don’t necessarily have to. With concept cars remaining concepts until they’re forgotten, hybrids maintaining high costs, and electric cars making excruciatingly slow headway into the mainstream market, these cars can help make a difference right now.

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