Luxury Cars Go Green as Consumers Become More Eco-Conscious

Cadillac ELR (Photos courtesy of each automobile manufacturer.)

Less than a decade ago, a hulking Hummer was the ultimate automotive status symbol. Unapologetically large and capable of guzzling massive amounts of gasoline in a single mile, the Hummer was the very antithesis of eco-conscious. Now, the brand is defunct and consumer culture has done a 180 degree turn toward the luxury hybrid.

When the fully electric Tesla sedan debuted in 2013, a page in automotive history was turned. Car buyers with capital are now looking to make more eco-friendly vehicle purchases; being able to afford to go green has replaced gas guzzling as the premiere symbol of luxury. Here are seven of the most popular models out on the market.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

In keeping with the sleek styles of the Tesla sedans, the Model X is all clean lines with a hint of flash (falcon-wing doors are optional, but if you’re going to fork over, why skip them?). Model X features all-wheel drive, which will be handy come winter. A 90 kWh battery provides 257 miles of range and the car seats seven. And, of course, it’s ludicrously fast: Think zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds. Models will start being delivered in the second half of 2016.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

The Model S debuted just last year and not only scored the highest safety rating in America, but offers a 270-mile range and blazing-fast acceleration (zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds). The car is almost terrifyingly smart, slowing down on cruise control when sensors detect another car is too close to the front bumper. Add sleek construction and fancy internal gadgetry to the mix, and it’s no wonder you see these all over the North Shore nowadays.

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid

When a sports car manufacturer with as much clout as Porsche gets in on the hybrid game, you know it’s not a flash-in-the-pan trend. The S E-Hybrid is a parallel plug-in hybrid, meaning it can be powered by combustion engine or electricity alone as well as together. When both modes of energy are combined, the S E boasts considerable speeds, including zero to 60 in 5.8 seconds — not insignificant for a car so heavy. Featuring optional safety add-ons like adaptive cruise control, lane-change assist and a host of others, Porsche is angling for superiority beyond just flashy looks. Plus, the Panamera features a relatively roomy backseat, something the Tesla is notably lacking.

Lexus GS Hybrid

Lexus GS Hybrid

Ranked fourth for upscale midsize cars by U.S. News and World Report, the GS hybrid has a luxurious interior, “potent” acceleration and excellent fuel economy. Powered by both an engine and two electric motors, reviewers say the car has an “abundance of power” and goes from zero to 60 in just seven seconds. According to the EPA, the 2016 model earns 29/34 mpg (for city and highway driving, respectively), which is outstanding for the class. One downside: Users report the infotainment panel is far from user-friendly.

BMW i3

BMW i3

The all-electric i3 is a small hatchback that offers nimble handling and, according to U.S. News, “earns an EPA-estimated 137/111 mpg-equivalent city/highway, which makes it more efficient than many rival electric vehicles.” Drawbacks include the undeniably odd design (in stark contrast to the sleek sedans for which BMW is best known) and only moderate battery range — 81 miles per charge — without the extender, which bumps that range up to 150 miles. Green-lining bonus: Many of the interior components are made from recycled or renewable materials.

Infiniti Q50 Hybrid

Infiniti Q50 Hybrid

We recommend the AWD Premium option for this model — though you lose a second on acceleration (zero to 60 in a respectable 5.2 seconds, versus 4.9 in the top-of-the-line model), the All-Wheel Drive will more than make up for it when the snow rolls around. Though the car has been maligned as having dull steering, its fuel economy is impressive for a six-cylinder hybrid car, featuring 28/35 mpg for city and highway driving, respectively. Additionally, the car has a classic design and has been praised for its straightforward interior technology — a far cry from the somewhat over-designed Tesla front panel.

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR

The hybrid 233-horsepower Cadillac ELR is one gorgeous vehicle — style has never been an issue for this brand. Powered by a lithium ion battery, two electric motors and a four-cylinder gas engine, the car can run for 40 miles on electricity alone. EPA estimates show an 85-mpg equivalent combined in hybrid mode and 32-mpg combined when using gas power alone. Reviewers say the cabin is roomy and, as to be expected from Cadillac, is constructed from top-notch materials. However, the backseat suffers from the same proportions as the Tesla sedan — conditions could be described as cramped. Overall, the ELR offers a smooth ride. Just don’t try fitting your golf clubs in the trunk.


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