Electric and fuel-effiecient cars make a statement. Owners on both sides of the political spectrum like telling the world that they’re no longer beholden to the oil companies and their mood-swing fossil-fuel prices.
BMW’s whimsical new i3 model makes statement about you: This driver is having fun. Its arcane design gives it the look of one of those machines in a Transformers movie, the running shoe that mutates into a jet fighter. Unlike other electric cars, the i3 provides an elegant, almost Scandinavian interior. The range is about 100 miles, after which it requires a six-hour recharge, but an optional device reduces it to thirty minutes. Starting price is $41,300; add four grand for an on-board gas-powered generator. Tax breaks like the $7,500 Federal incentive lower the ticket price. For 2014, BMW adds the diesel option to its 3-series and 5-series sedans. The 328d ($41,500 and up) should get 45 mpg highway. Take that, Prius.
Cadillac has accomplished a neat trick. Its new ELR might look like a pavement-ripping supercar, but it is built upon the electric-motor architecture of the Chevy Volt, its highly acclaimed corporate sister. Round-town commutes are electric, but the gas-powered generator will get you clear to Boston. Interior of the $76,000 two-seater is gorgeous.
The SUV market has been crying out for a hauler that won’t max your credit card every week, and Jeep made it happen. The luxurious Grand Cherokee can be ordered with the smooth, high-tech EcoDiesel that provides beautiful power along with astonishingly good mileage numbers.