2010 was an exceptional year for hybrids, marking the first time two electric vehicles (the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt) were introduced to the public. These two cars are set to lead innovations into the next decade, but a few new hybrids are also set to leave a mark. With more than 20 different hybrid models currently for sale, the future of hybrid cars is looking greener (no pun intended)
Here are five of the top hybrids to look out for in 2011 for their combination of style, innovation, and ¨worth the wait¨ factor.
2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is looking to leverage the success of the 2010 Sonata with 40 mpg highway, marking the first time a midsize sedan hits that number. It beats the current lead Toyota Camry Hybrid with its unimpressive 34 mpg. Full electric modes hits its throttle up to 62 mph and incorporates an industry first with the Hybrid Blue Drive system which uses a lithium polymer battery modest enough to go 0 to 60 in 9 seconds. In comparison, you have the Camry and Fusion hybrid´s nickel metal hydride batteries that are 35 percent heavier and are less efficient.
Look for this hybrid and its 100,000 mile/10 year warranty in Q1 2011.
2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
The Lincoln MKZ has languished in the mid tier of the upscale midsize segment, criticized for being similar to the less expensive Ford Fusion and less attractive with its split front grille. Starting at $34,000, it has an estimated mpg of 41 city and 36 highway with a constantly variable transmission. The ride is also one of the quietest in its class. Still, Lincoln´s efforts to distinguish itself from the Fusion deserves a spot on this list.
2011 Honda CR-Z
The CR-Z is one of the most promising hybrid hatchbacks to come out in years. An offshoot of the Honda CR-X which stopped production in the early 90´s, its foundation is based on the Insight with more power. It also has one of the most futuristic dashboards ever, all-digital and lighting changes based on driving style. However, this model is dogged by limited rear visibility, extra road noise, and 2D navigation maps. Still, it is one of the best handling and most fun cars to drive.
2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid
The Cayenne is Porsche´s leading seller, so it makes sense a hybrid version comes out for it. Debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, the S Hybrid will feature a 333 horsepower, 3.0 liter V6 with a 47 horsepower electric motor which is good for acceleration (using electric power only) up to 40 mpg. Plus, it clocks in at 28 mpg which is a dramatic improvement over the 2010 Cayenne´s 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway.
2011 Lexus CT200h
This hybrid hatchback is a sportier version of the Toyota Prius. Aimed for the European market but expanding to the US and Japan. At 42 mpg combined EPA, features are also off the charts, including a push button engine starter, XM satellite radio, heated front seats, and climate control. One knock on this hybrid is its use of nickel metal hydride which is light years behind the Sonata´s lithium polymer battery in terms of life and power.