Best environmentally-friendly cars

Australia still lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to electron-powered vehicles but eco-minded Aussies do have a few options

Mercedes Benz EQC Front Side Static Jpg

The low-emissions lifestyle hasn’t really caught on in Australia yet. While other countries may offer tax deductions, rebates and other financial incentives for motorists to convert to a more environmentally vehicle like a plug-in hybrid or battery-electric car, Australia’s state and federal bodies stubbornly refuse to embrace emissions-free motoring.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have choices. If you’re in the market for something a bit greener than the average car, here are eight choices that might tickle your inner tree-hugger.


It may look a little bland, but the Toyota Corolla is a popular car for a reason – it’s a safe choice. Add a hybrid powertrain into the mix and you’ve got the attention of the eco-conscious.

It’s one of the most affordable hybrids around and, while somewhat basic and unsophisticated, it still offers the versatility and practicality the Corolla is known for.

Toyota Corolla Sunset Jpg

Pro: Price; practicality, performance
It’s a little bland and you won’t stand out from the crowd
Fuel Efficiency: 4.2L/100km
Price: $25,870


Toyota’s other hybrid hatch consumes even less than the Corolla, thanks to a slightly more modern hybrid powertrain and aero-optimised exterior. We also like that it cleverly converts braking energy back into electricity, but the Toyota Prius is an expensive way of satisfying your green itch and there’s no plug-in capability.

Toyota Prius I Tech 2016 Drive Front Jpg

Pro: Frugal drivetrain; good standard safety; distinctive design.
Con: Expensive; modest highway performance; runs on petrol and doesn’t have a plug-in option.
Fuel efficiency: 3.4L/100km
Price: From $36,440


The Hyundai Ioniq differs from most other eco cars in that it isn't just available as a hybrid, it can be specced with a plug-in hybrid or completely-electric powertrain as well. That's a hugely unique selling point, and one that gives the buyer the ultimate flexibility in how they reduce their carbon footprint. The EV, which begins at $41,990, is also the most affordable way to get a purely-electric car in your driveway.

Hyundai Ioniq

Pro: Can be had as hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV; drives well; recently updated
EV version is still a $40K small car
Fuel efficiency: 
3.9L/100km (hybrid); 1.1L/100km (PHEV) 14.5kWh/100km (EV)
From $36,440


While it sells slowly over here, the Nissan Leaf is, to date, the world’s top-selling electric car. The incoming new generation car builds on an already well-defined reputation and adds more power, more range and a more liveable interior over familiar hardware.

2019 Nissan Leaf Rear Side Action Jpg

Pro: New-gen Leaf packs a powerful 110kW electric motor
Cons: It doesn’t go the distance of some other all-electric cars.
Range: 270km 
Price: From $49,990


One of the best-resolved electrics on the market right now is Benz's classy EQC. It might not have the eyebrow-raising metrics of a Tesla, but its build quality, cabin design and well-rounded performance make it an accomplished contender - so much so that Wheels magazine recognised it as Car Of The Year

Mercedes-Benz EQC Winner Wheels Car of the Year 2020

Pro: Superbly finished inside and out; drives great; feels more 'normal' than other EVs
Cons: Single-charge range isn't massive; cost
Range: 353km 
Price: From $137,900


It’s a hybrid SUV, and anything this size that clocks a fuel efficiency figure under 5L/100km is a great option for anyone interested in keeping the greenhouse effect at bay. But while the Outlander normally comes with a seven seater option, the hybrid PHEV does not.

Mitsubishi Outlander Boot Jpg

Pro: Regenerative braking; spacious; fuel efficient SUV.
No seven seat option
Fuel Efficiency:
Price: From $45,990


First offered to Australian fleet buyers, the Renault Zoe is now available to the general public from $51,990. While it offers a large 300km of range, it's also expensive for its size.

Renault Zoe Shop Jpg

Pro: Long range; big battery
Con: Expensive
Fuel Efficiency: 300km range
From $51,990

BMW i3

The BMW i3 is offered as an EV or a plug-in hybrid, and recently underwent an update to extend its range to a possible 390km. It’s compact but boasts an avant-garde design that’s cutting edge for the conservative German brand.

BMW i3

Pro: Increased range for 2017 and comes with a range of stylish options.
Con: Expensive for its size.
Range: 245km(battery-electric) 370km (range-extender hybrid)
Price: From $63,900


The Tesla Model S offers some of the longest ranges in the EV space. Easily one of the most prominent EVs available at the moment, Tesla's barrier to entry is that it is expensive, but they're working on introducing more affordable models soon. 

Telsa Model S

Pro: Biggest range; fastest EV; Autopilot.
Con: It’s expensive.
Range: from 339km to 512km
Price: From $112,800


All-electric, minimalist cabin, brutally quick and the very manifestation of the technological bleeding edge, the Tesla Model 3 is a profoundly futuristic thing. With a $67K starting price it's also the most attainable Tesla right now, and a compelling alternative to cars like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Tesla Model 3

Pro: Ultra-fast; best-handling Tesla thus far; so much tech
Con: Buttonless cabin is perhaps too minimalistic
Range: 460km to 620km
Price: From $67,900 to $93,900


It’s stylish, it’s spacious and it’s got seven seats. And, with the T8-spec petrol-electric hybrid engine and plug-in charging capability, it’ll be the most fuel efficient seven-seater on any leafy suburban street.

Volvo XC90

Pro: Luxurious and stylish; packed with safety features; fuel efficient for its size
Con: Pricey
Fuel Efficiency: 2.1L/100km
Price: From $120,900


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