By Justin Houston
By definition, a luxury car denotes not only top-of-the–line quality, but also a high price point and the air of exclusivity.
When luxury manufacturers introduce hybrid cars, be prepared to exclaim: “Holy Hybrid!” Great features, great mileage and green —but do these qualities support the hefty price tag?
Let’s take a look at four green luxury cars to find out which features and amenities may justify the price.
BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Series
At just over $60,000, the 2011 ActiveHybrid 7 Series is one the greenest BMW offerings. Although the car is a hybrid, it has greater power and fuel efficiency than the gasoline model 7 Series that was this vehicle’s inspiration. But with a TMV from $60,816, its purchase price is considerably more than its gas-powered sibling.
Compared to the regular 750, drivers will enjoy a burly hybrid power plant that delivers better fuel economy. The ActiveHybrid 7 Series includes more standard features than a gas-powered 750, including an exceptional interior and enough technology in the cockpit to make you feel like you’re driving a spaceship.
Porsche Panamera Hybrid
Reviewers are gushing about the 2014 Panamera Hybrid. This luxury hybrid sedan has an entry price of $95,000, but seats four in unrivaled comfort and a wonderfully- outfitted cabin. A hybrid Porsche may sound like an oxymoron, but even hardcore Porsche enthusiasts are impressed with the gasoline-electric power train that has an electric motor and an 8-speed, supercharged V6 gasoline motor. Combined, this power plant pushes 375 ponies that pull the car during car from 0-60 in only 5.7 seconds and delivers 53 mpg, according to Clean Technica (2).
Photo of 2012 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo e-hybrid by Ben via Wikimedia Commons
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
When it comes to hybrid luxury cars, Hyundai Motors is proving that luxury is not always costly. U.S. News and World Report (4) ranks the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid number five for affordable midsize cars. The car is a traditional hybrid with an electric motor, four-cylinder gas motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle has received rave reviews such as this one from Kelly Blue Book (5) “The 2013 Sonata Hybrid represents the pinnacle of Hyundai fuel efficiency with its 40-mpg highway rating and lifetime-warrantied hybrid battery.” A standard gas model Sonata starts at about $21,000, but a hybrid is more costly with a starting price of around $25,000.
Photo of 2013 Hyundai Sonata GLS at Chapman Hyundai in Phoenix. Used with permission.
Tesla Model S
The 2013 Tesla Model S is not actually a hybrid but rather the proof that a completely new, all-electric car can succeed. When Consumer Reports conducted its stringent testing, the Tesla S scored 99 out of 100 points. According to testers, the car would have scored perfectly if it did not have to stop occasionally to recharge its batteries. The car tied for the quietest car ever tested and had enviable scores for acceleration, ride quality and braking. Only one other car has ever scored this highest—the Lexus LS460 in 2009.
The S has a driving range of between 208 and 265 miles. Recharge takes approximately six hours from a standard 240 volt outlet.
The full-sized car seats seven comfortably in a well-appointed interior with leather seats and a stylish 17-inch touch-screen.
Luxury and prestige have entered the world of quality, hybrid machinery. From state-of-the-art engines, stylish design and impressive price tags, the motor industry is getting a face lift, and it’s looking really green these days.
JustinHouston is a mechanic and freelance writer who shares his tips and ideas on how drivers can save money and energy by switching to alternative fuel vehicles.