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Electrifying Choices Available in Hybrids

Sales of hybrid cars have been, well, electrifying. According to the Chicago Tribune, sales of these green vehicles hit record high numbers in August 2013. The increase in sales can be attributed to a number of things, including high gas prices, better technology and a larger selection of vehicles to choose from.

When the Toyota Prius debuted in Japan in 1997, it became the first mass produced hybrid car, according to its website's press room. So it probably isn't surprising that many people still automatically think of the Prius when they consider purchasing a hybrid vehicle. Thankfully, you are no longer limited to a "choice" of one when it comes to hybrids. If you're currently considering a green vehicle for your next ride, take the time to check out these great options, as well:

Chevrolet Volt

Basics:

  • 101 City/ 93 Highway MPGe (according to AOL Autos)
  • From $39,145 MSRP
  • Front-wheel drive

For the first 40 miles you drive this four-passenger hatchback hybrid, it will be powered by electricity stored in its lithium-ion battery pack. After that, its gas-powered engine will take over. While its MPGe is listed at 101 city, and 93 highway, its EPA-estimated miles per gallon (MPGs) for the gas engine is actually 35 city, and 40 highway, as US News mentions. The Chevy Volt can be recharged in eight hours while plugged into a 120-volt outlet, or four hours on a 240-volt outlet.

A side note: If this is the first time you've shopped for a hybrid, you may be confused by the MPGe (which is short for miles per gallon equivalent) numbers. With an automobile that operates only on gas, the city MPG number is almost always lower than the highway number. According to Edmunds, a hybrid or electric car, on the other hand, may do better in city traffic because regenerative braking actually helps recharge its battery.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Basics:

  • 36 City/ 40 Highway MPGe (as US News reports)
  • From $25,650 MSRP
  • 5-Star NHTSA Overall Safety Rating

The roomy Hyundai Sonata Hybrid boasts an upscale interior and feel, so owners can go green without feeling like they are necessarily giving up the good life. A number of niceties, including Bluetooth, satellite radio and a longer-than-usual warranty, all come standard with this vehicle. Hyundai boasts that its five-seat Sonata is the first non-plug-in hybrid with lithium polymer battery technology. The Sonata also boasts a backseat pass-through for those hard-to-transport larger items, such as hockey sticks.

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Basics:

  • 47 City/ 47 Highway MPGe (according to US News)
  • From $27,200 MSRP

This is an attractive four-door vehicle that features a new lithium-ion battery pack that weighs 106 pounds, according to Car and Driver. Its previous nickel-metal hydride pack weighed a heftier 150 pounds. Because the smaller and lighter lithium-ion battery pack takes up less room, the 2013 Ford Fusion now has a little bit more space in its trunk. In addition, its rear seats now fold down for even more cargo space.

Nissan Leaf

Basics:

  • 129 City/ 102 Highway MPGe (according to NissanUSA.com)
  • $21,300 to $27,340 MSRP
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Can be charged in approximately four hours

The Nissan Leaf is a fun-looking, five-seat hatchback that has a reputation for reliability. For 2013, this all-electric vehicle now boasts a new 6.6-kW onboard charger that cuts its charging time in half when used with a 220-volt outlet.

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