When shopping for a car, consumers have a lot of choices and a lot to consider. Factors that impact the environmental sustainability of the options include:

  • New or previously-owned
  • Two- or four-wheel drive
  • Combustion only, hybrid (plug-in or not), all electric, hydrogen fuel cell
  • Vehicle size and fuel efficiency
  • If your budget is tight, getting an efficient previously-owned vehicle may be your best bet. But, if you can afford it and plan to keep your car for a long time, getting a new vehicle can cost less in the long run.

    Four-wheel (or all-wheel) drive vehicles are less efficient that similar two-wheel drive versions. So, only get a four-wheel drive version if you need it for snow or terrain conditions.

    Selecting the right fuel option can be difficult because the options are changing rapidly. All electric vehicles can have great efficiency and require little maintenance. Costs are coming down while ranges and charging convenience are improving. So, you should consider total costs, including operation and maintenance, when evaluating the economics of our decision. If you think that you’ll want an electric vehicle in a few years, maybe you can maintain your current car, or buy an inexpensive used car to hold you over until you are ready to purchase one. If an electric car can meet your needs almost all of the time, you could get one and then rent a car for days that you need something else.


  • Get the most efficient vehicle you can afford that meets your needs
  • Consider the convenience of never needing to go to a gas station and rarely needing maintenance if an all-electric vehicle can meet your needs
  • Resources:
    Green Car Reports – Best Car to Buy
    When Used Cars Are More Ecofriendly Than New Cars

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