Driving

23 of the most eco-friendly cars of 2022

hero image

In 2021, electric car sales reached 6.6 million sold, more than tripling their market share. With the U.S. government setting a goal for all new car sales to be zero emissions by 2030, U.S. sales of EVs and hybrids are expected to skyrocket in the near future.

The Zebra’s latest Electric Vehicles Report found that 60% of people have considered buying a hybrid or electric vehicle before. If you’re in the market for a new car and are interested in exploring a greener alternative, we’ve compiled a list of the most eco-friendly cars of 2022.

Once you settle on an eco-friendly car, remember to protect it with adequate insurance coverage. Because insuring electric and hybrid vehicles typically costs more than a traditional car, you’ll want to make sure you compare auto insurance rates before you buy.

For more eco-friendly car trends and tips, jump down to the infographic below.

What is an eco-friendly car?

According to the EPA, an eco-friendly or green car is a vehicle that pollutes less and runs more efficiently than regular vehicles. Under this broad definition, many vehicles are classified as eco-friendly cars whether they’re powered by gasoline or an alternative fuel source.


Types of eco-friendly vehicles

Regardless of the general category that is “eco-friendly cars,” most people think of alternative fuels when it comes to green vehicles. With so many options to choose from, it’s helpful to know more about the different fuels before you consider purchasing one. You can learn more about the different alternative power sources for green cars below.

  • Electric vehicles (EVs): Instead of having an internal combustion engine, EVs have an electric motor that you refuel by charging the battery. A standard 120-volt outlet is sufficient to charge the battery, but a 240-volt outlet that’s used for a washer and dryer will charge it faster.
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs): PHEVs run off both a battery and an internal combustion engine. To refuel, the car can be charged with a regular 120-volt outlet, regenerative braking or the internal combustion engine.
  • Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs): As a type of electric car, FCVs operate using an electric motor. Instead of getting electricity through a wall outlet though, FCVs draw electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen as a fuel source has the potential for zero emissions and can be sourced from renewable materials like water and biomass.
  • Natural gas vehicles (NGVs): NGVs run using either compressed or liquified natural gas as fuel. A dedicated NGV operates entirely on natural gas, a bi-fuel NGV uses a mixture of gasoline and natural gas, and heavy-duty dual-fuel NGVs use natural gas and diesel.
  • Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs): FFVs operate with an internal combustion engine that uses gasoline or a blend of gasoline and ethanol referred to as E85. E85 usually contains up to 85% ethanol, hence the name. This flexible fuel is more eco-friendly because ethanol is made from renewable biomasses like corn and wood.
  • Gasoline hybrid: ​​Hybrids have an internal combustion engine that uses gasoline as well as an electric motor. This combination results in better mileage than regular gasoline cars and fewer emissions released.
 types-of-green-vehicles

Best eco-friendly cars

Thanks to advancements in car technology and pushes from policymakers, more vehicles now meet the standards for green cars. Whether it’s a fully electric vehicle, an internal combustion car with great gas mileage or something in between, we used GreenerCars’ rankings of the Greenest and Greener cars to compile a list of the top eco-friendly cars to inspire your next purchase.

Each GreenerCar score is out of 100, with the highest scoring car for 2022 receiving a 69. The higher the score, the more fuel efficient and emission-friendly. This list of the most eco-friendly cars takes into account GreenerCar scores, fuel efficiency and the vehicle’s powertrain or the mechanism that causes the car to drive.


1. Toyota Prius Prime

As one of the best-selling hybrids, the Toyota Prius Prime is the most eco-friendly car of 2022. With a lightweight lithium ion battery that helps it maximize mileage, this green vehicle gets a driving range of 640 miles and is the perfect fit for daily commuters and road trippers alike.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 69/100
  • Powertrain: Plug-in hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 54 combined MPG


2. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid

With a combined driving range of 620 miles, the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV gives you the option to use gas or electric wherever you go. With special access to HOV lanes depending on your location and the option to drive in all electric mode, this car features perks for you and the environment.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 68/100
  • Powertrain: Plug-in hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 52 combined MPG


3. Mini Cooper SE Hardtop 2 Door

The fully electrified Mini Cooper SE Hardtop 2 Door offers a driving range of 114 miles on a full charge and offers major savings on fuel costs. In just 15,000 miles, which is slightly over the average amount Americans drive, the SE Hardtop 2 Door can save you as much as $1,368 per year.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 67/100
  • Powertrain: Electric vehicle
  • Fuel economy: 110 combined MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent)


4. Nissan LEAF

This all-electric vehicle features a 40-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery and a 110-kilowatt electric motor. With one of the most affordable EV price points, the Nissan LEAF makes transitioning to electric more accessible for the masses.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 67/100
  • Powertrain: Electric vehicle
  • Fuel economy: 111 combined MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent)


5. Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

The Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid is an award-winning crossover SUV that is predicted to save owners nearly $5,000 in fuel costs over five years. If the fuel savings weren’t enough, this PHEV also has a driving range of 560 miles so you can conveniently skip a pit stop.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 65/100
  • Powertrain: Plug-in hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 46 combined MPG
 five-greenest-cars

 

6. Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue

A gasoline hybrid with a similar fuel economy to the best-ranking eco-friendly vehicle, the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue’s excellent fuel efficiency earns it a top spot on this list of green cars.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 65/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 56 combined MPG


7. Mazda MX-30

Mazda’s first ever electric vehicle, the MX-30, boasts new e-Skyactiv X technology, a rapid charge and an eight-year warranty for its lithium ion battery. To top it all off, it has an estimated driving range of 100 miles on just a single charge.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 65/100
  • Powertrain: Electric vehicle
  • Fuel economy: 92 combined MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent)


8. Toyota Corolla Hybrid

As the most fuel-efficient version of the Corolla, this gasoline hybrid uses Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. This tech consists of a hybrid battery and lighter materials for optimal performance and efficiency.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 64/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 50 combined MPG


9. Honda Insight

With its hybrid powertrain and aerodynamic design, the Honda Insight makes it so that you visit the gas pump less and get to drive around more.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 64/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 52 combined MPG


10. Toyota Camry Hybrid LE

Using Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, the Camry Hybrid LE combines a four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to deliver great performance and fuel efficiency.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 63/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 52 combined MPG
 toyota-camry-hybrid

 

11. Tesla Motors Model Y RWD

As a fully electric midsize SUV, Tesla’s Model Y makes it so you never have to spend money on gas again. You can easily charge this vehicle at home overnight and drive an estimated 330 miles on a single charge. Have a few more miles before you get home? Tesla also has 30,000 superchargers available around the globe.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 63/100
  • Powertrain: Electric vehicle
  • Fuel economy: 122 combined MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent)


12. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Blue

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Blue combines a hybrid powertrain with a sleek design to improve aerodynamics and optimize fuel economy.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 63/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 52 combined MPG


13. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Blue

Touted as the most fuel-efficient car in America, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Blue takes fuel economy to new levels. This car gets a whopping 60 MPG on the highway and 58 MPG in the city, giving it the best mileage out of any vehicles on this list.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 66/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 59 combined MPG


14. Toyota Prius L Eco

As the second Prius on this list of eco-friendly cars, the Prius Hybrid L Eco also has a lightweight lithium ion battery that charges fast and stores a lot of energy. Although it gets slightly better gas mileage than the Prius Prime, its status as a gasoline hybrid is a little less eco-friendly than its plug-in counterpart.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 66/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 56 combined MPG


15. Kia Niro Fe

Although not ranked as highly as its PHEV counterpart, the gasoline hybrid version of the Kia Niro is still a top eco-friendly car. With upgraded hybrid technology, this crossover uses regenerative braking to charge its lithium ion battery.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 62/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 50 combined MPG
 Kia-niro

 

16. Toyota Venza AWD

Equipped with Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive and electronic on-demand all-wheel drive, the 2022 Toyota Venza AWD delivers fuel efficiency on both the city and the highway. This hybrid SUV also comes with a 10-year or 150,000-mile warranty on its battery.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 56/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 39 combined MPG


17. Ford Escape FWD HEV

The Ford Escape Hybrid with Front-Wheel Drive is a compact SUV with an impressive driving range. Thanks to its ability to accommodate passengers and cargo, this eco-friendly car is a good option for those who prefer SUVs.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 56/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 41 combined MPG


18. Chevrolet Spark

EVs and hybrids tend to cost more because of their specialized parts, but the Chevrolet Spark presents consumers with an eco-friendly gas-powered option at an affordable price point. For a starting MSRP of $13,600, this vehicle is a greener option than other gasoline cars.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 55/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline
  • Fuel economy: 33 combined MPG


19. Toyota Sienna

As the sophomore version of the hybrid-only Sienna, this vehicle is pushing the boundaries of fuel efficiency for other minivans on the market. With a 600-mile driving range on its 18-gallon fuel tank, the Sienna can take up to eight passengers for miles.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 52/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 36 combined MPG


20. Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid All-Wheel Drive combines a four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. The result of this hybrid system means better fuel economy for an SUV, plus the capacity to tow up to 3,500 lbs.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 52/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 36 combined MPG
 Toyota-Highlander-hybrid

 

21. Toyota Supra 2.0

As one of the only sports cars on this list, the Toyota Supra 2.0’s four-cylinder, 2.0-liter engine and lightweight carbon fiber material help it achieve a combined fuel economy of 28 MPG.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 50/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline
  • Fuel economy: 28 combined MPG


22. ​​Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

For those looking for a luxury option that performs well, the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 features a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo engine that goes from zero to 60 in less than seven seconds. Combined with the ECO start/stop feature, the engine never idles, so you use less fuel and release fewer emissions.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 49/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline
  • Fuel economy: 29 combined MPG

23. Ford Maverick FWD

As one of the first pickup trucks with a standard hybrid powertrain, the Ford Maverick is opening up the realm of eco-car possibilities for truck lovers. With an estimated driving range of 500 miles on a full tank of gas, the Maverick can haul or tow for miles.

Key eco features:

  • GreenerCar score: 47/100
  • Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
  • Fuel economy: 37 combined MPG

Does having an eco-friendly car affect your car insurance?

Hybrid and electric vehicles tend to have more expensive parts and service needs than their gas-powered counterparts. Because car insurance covers a vehicle's value, the higher price points of eco-friendly cars mean that insurance rates tend to cost more as well.

Despite higher insurance costs, there are still ways to save on your premium with an eco vehicle, so don’t let that deter you from buying a greener car. Check out the tips below to save on coverage for your EV or hybrid.

Tips to save on insurance costs for your EV or hybrid:

  • Purchase a more affordable vehicle: The lower the value of your eco-friendly car, the less your premium will be. Some affordable options from the list above are the Nissan LEAF and the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid.
  • Compare insurance premiums: Shop around to see which companies offer the best rates to cover your EV or hybrid. You can use The Zebra to compare rates easily online.
  • Look into discounts: Some companies offer a discount on your policy if you have an alternative fuel or green vehicle. Check with your insurer to see if your car qualifies. Additionally, don’t forget to ask about other discounts for good driving, like telematics.
  • Find tax breaks: Many states have tax incentives for people who buy electric or alternative fuel vehicles. See if your state has any rebates available so you can offset higher insurance rates.

Tips for choosing a green vehicle

With so many eco-friendly car options available, it may be overwhelming to pick the best green vehicle for you. To make the transition to an eco car a little easier, we’ve gathered a few tips for the car-buying process.

 what-to-look-for-when-buying-an-eco-car

Check the Fuel Economy and Environment label

If you’ve ever been to a dealership to buy a new car, you may have noticed a variety of labels on each car. One of these labels is the Fuel Economy and Environment label. This label easily tells you the fuel economy of the car, the estimated annual fuel cost and even how much you’ll save on fuel over five years.

The label also offers ratings for both vehicle emissions and fuel economy, with higher ratings meaning greener cars. You can often scan a QR code on the label if you want more details. Use the information to help you decide on the eco-friendly car that best fits your needs.


Search for a SmartWay Vehicle

SmartWay vehicles are certified to be in the top 20% lowest-emitting passenger cars for that model year. That means these cars emit less smog and fewer greenhouse gasses. Look for the SmartWay label on a car or use the Department of Energy’s online tool to search for a certified vehicle by make and model.


Consider your fuel options

With so many alternative fuel options for eco-friendly cars, it’s important that you think about what will work the best for you and your lifestyle. Although not as clean as an electric car, a gasoline hybrid is a good step toward cleaner transportation if you live off the grid. Factor in what fuel is the most accessible to you and base your clean car options off of that.

With the U.S. and most of the world moving toward zero emissions for all new car sales, now is the time to start transitioning to clean vehicles. Use our list of the most eco-friendly cars to make your next car purchase a greener one. Just like you’re taking steps to protect the environment with a cleaner car, make sure you protect your eco-friendly car with car insurance.

 eco-friendly-car-trends

 

Sources: Axios | BMW Group | GreenerCars | EPA 1 2 3 | Hyundai | IEA | KiaPew Research Center | Reuters | Shutterstock 1 2 | The ZebraToyota | U.S. Department of Energy |

Don't forget to share!
Susan Meyer photo
Susan MeyerSenior Editorial Manager

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebra a year. She currently specializes in producing research-focused content for The Zebra's Resource Center on topics related to auto and home insurance, personal finance and smarter living in the 21st century.

Susan's work has been cited by the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm, BuzzfeedCBS, Yahoo, Entrepreneur and Business Insider.