The Best “Alternative” Fueled Cars on the Market

Diesels Beat Electric Vehicles

The economics of owning hybrid or electric vehicles have never been very favorable compared to conventional gasoline vehicles, even on paper. In real-world driving conditions, batterypowered vehicles may perform much worse than advertised, especially during hot summers and cold winters. Popular models, including a 2013 Nissan Leaf and 2014 Ford Focus Electric, were put to the test. And the results are dismal. According to the AAA Automotive Research Center, the average range of an electric car drops by 33% when temperatures reach 95 degrees. Battery life drops by an alarming 57% in 20-degree weather.

Electric Vehicles Deliver
Less than Advertised

Even AAA’s research team was taken aback. “ We expected degradation in the range of vehicles in both cold and hot climates, but we did not expect the degradation we saw,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering for AAA.

The bottom line is that the electric vehicles currently on the market are poorly suited to meet your transportation needs in real-world driving conditions – unless you live in an area that experiences neither cold winters nor hot summers and you only require a vehicle for short com – mutes. (Even under ideal conditions, the driving range for a full charge is only 105 miles – not much margin for safety on a round trip anywhere outside your zip code.)

The Diesel Alternative: Better All Around

If you want better fuel economy in your next vehicle without sacrificing performance, then consider opting for a diesel engine. Today’s diesel engines are quieter, cleaner,
and more efficient than those of decades past. They deliver approximately 30% better fuel economy than their counterparts that run on unleaded gasoline and sacrifice nothing in power and performance.

What’s Old Is
New Again

It’s no wonder that diesel is making a comeback. European makes including Volkswagen, Audi, and Mercedes Benz have long offered diesel sedan models. Now U.S. automakers are rolling out ultra-low sulfur “clean diesels” that will be able to meet U.S. emissions standardsthat had previously curtailed automakers’ ability to sell diesels. The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is GM’s first diesel passenger car to come out in 28 years. It gets 33 miles per gallon combined (27 mpg city; 46 highway).

Soon, more and better diesel options will be available. For 2015, Volkswagen will be fitting its Beetle, Golf, Jetta, and Passat sedans with turbo diesel engines that sport more power and better fuel economy. So if you’re thinking of buying a fuel-efficient car, you may want to skip the electric/hybrids and the flimsy subcompacts and opt instead for a diesel.