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The Most Environmentally Friendly Cars in 2023

Discover the world of environmentally friendly cars. Explore the top eco-friendly vehicles of 2023, learn how to choose the right one and get ready to reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing your driving pleasure.

Read time

10 minutes

Date

06.08.2023

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Choosing an eco-friendly vehicle is about more than picking the best car for the environment based on fuel efficiency or innovative electric features. It's a conscious lifestyle decision, an affirmation of your commitment to sustainability and respect for the environment.


When striving for a cleaner and greener future, sustainable vehicles are key contributors to this vision, reshaping the narrative of automotive emissions without compromising the joy of the open road. From compact hatchbacks to spacious SUVs, there is a broad range of options in the market. 


If you're considering a new vehicle or just examining your choices, explore the options that blend environmental consciousness with the thrill of driving. 

Types of environmentally friendly cars

As the world moves towards a greener future, car manufacturers worldwide are investing in the creation of more environmentally friendly vehicles. Broadly, there are four types of sustainable cars you might encounter on your quest for an eco-friendly ride:


  • Hybrid cars: These eco-friendly vehicles cleverly combine traditional gasoline engines with electric motors. They improve fuel efficiency by seamlessly alternating between these two power sources, which significantly reduces carbon emissions. It's an innovative approach to sustainable cars, making them an appealing choice for many drivers.
  • Plug-in hybrid cars: Taking a step beyond regular hybrids, plug-in hybrids are equipped with larger batteries and can be recharged directly from an electrical outlet. They can travel considerable distances using pure electric power, thereby contributing to a smaller carbon footprint. If you're considering hybrids, read the pros and cons of hybrid cars.
  • Battery electric vehicles (EV & BEVs): Exemplifying some of the best cars for the environment, BEVs are powered solely by electricity stored in their batteries, meaning they emit zero tailpipe pollutants. These eco-friendly cars can be charged from the electric grid, which can include renewable sources like solar or wind power. The convenience of home charging and their significant contribution to reducing emissions make them a leading choice for green transport.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell cars: These forward-thinking vehicles convert hydrogen gas into electricity, which then powers an electric motor. Remarkably, the only emission from these vehicles is water, making them one of the most environmentally friendly cars available today. While still somewhat of a rarity on the roads, they hold great potential for future sustainable transportation.

Are hybrid cars the most environmentally friendly?

In the pursuit of eco-friendly vehicles, hybrid cars have gained significant attention. They've been acclaimed for their balance between traditional fuel engines and electric power, which offers better fuel efficiency and fewer emissions than conventional cars.


However, while they're more environmentally friendly than their gasoline-only counterparts, hybrids aren't the greenest cars on the block. Electric vehicles (EVs), which produce zero tailpipe emissions, and hydrogen fuel cell cars, which only emit water, have them beat in that regard.


That said, hybrid cars can be an excellent stepping stone towards more sustainable transportation. They provide a practical choice for those looking to reduce their environmental impact but aren't quite ready to switch to a fully electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

4 most environmentally friendly cars

These sustainable cars were carefully curated using data from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization committed to reducing energy waste and combating climate change. The ACEEE’s independent analysis supports investments, programs, and behaviors that leverage energy more effectively, striving towards an equitable clean energy future.

1. MINI Cooper SE

  • Average price: $34,000
  • Number of seats: 4
  • Combined range: 114 Miles
  • Horsepower: 181 hp


The 2023 Mini Cooper SE blends classic charm with state-of-the-art technology. This electric hatchback boasts an agile size and luxurious cabin, delivering an exhilarating driving experience. Despite having a two-door configuration and a somewhat smaller back seat, the Mini Cooper SE stands out for its affordability and sporty character, making it a favored choice among electric vehicle enthusiasts. 

MINI Cooper SE
MINI Cooper SE

1. MINI Cooper SE

  • Average price: $34,000
  • Number of seats: 4
  • Combined range: 114 Miles
  • Horsepower: 181 hp


The 2023 Mini Cooper SE blends classic charm with state-of-the-art technology. This electric hatchback boasts an agile size and luxurious cabin, delivering an exhilarating driving experience. Despite having a two-door configuration and a somewhat smaller back seat, the Mini Cooper SE stands out for its affordability and sporty character, making it a favored choice among electric vehicle enthusiasts. 

2. Nissan Leaf

  • Average price: $31,800
  • Number of seats: 5
  • Combined range: 212 Miles
  • Horsepower: 147 hp


As one of the pioneers of the electric vehicle market, the Nissan Leaf offers a practical solution for eco-conscious drivers. It’s a quiet and comfortable ride, combined with a suite of standard driver-assist features, making it a great everyday car. 

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

2. Nissan Leaf

  • Average price: $31,800
  • Number of seats: 5
  • Combined range: 212 Miles
  • Horsepower: 147 hp


As one of the pioneers of the electric vehicle market, the Nissan Leaf offers a practical solution for eco-conscious drivers. It’s a quiet and comfortable ride, combined with a suite of standard driver-assist features, making it a great everyday car. 

3. Volkswagen ID.4

  • Average price: $ 39,100
  • Number of seats: 5
  • Combined range: 275 Miles
  • Horsepower: 201 hp


The Volkswagen ID.4, a gem introduced in 2021, impresses with its spacious interior, superior comfort, and comprehensive suite of standard features. Its smooth ride and quiet cabin make it an excellent choice for long commutes and family trips. Additionally, its commendable range and well-thought-out design highlight Volkswagen's dedication to providing a practical, eco-friendly vehicle without sacrificing comfort and style. 

volkswagen id.4
volkswagen id.4

3. Volkswagen ID.4

  • Average price: $ 39,100
  • Number of seats: 5
  • Combined range: 275 Miles
  • Horsepower: 201 hp


The Volkswagen ID.4, a gem introduced in 2021, impresses with its spacious interior, superior comfort, and comprehensive suite of standard features. Its smooth ride and quiet cabin make it an excellent choice for long commutes and family trips. Additionally, its commendable range and well-thought-out design highlight Volkswagen's dedication to providing a practical, eco-friendly vehicle without sacrificing comfort and style. 

4. Mazda MX-30

  • Average price: $35,600
  • Number of seats: 5
  • Combined range: 92 Miles
  • Horsepower: 143 hp


Making its mark as Mazda's first foray into the electric vehicle market, the 2023 Mazda MX-30 offers a serene ride with impressive cargo space. Its compact size and agile handling make it an ideal city companion, even in bustling urban environments. While the rear legroom might seem limited and the acceleration might not be the fastest, the MX-30 represents a significant step in Mazda's commitment towards a sustainable future. 

Mazda MX-30
Mazda MX-30

4. Mazda MX-30

  • Average price: $35,600
  • Number of seats: 5
  • Combined range: 92 Miles
  • Horsepower: 143 hp


Making its mark as Mazda's first foray into the electric vehicle market, the 2023 Mazda MX-30 offers a serene ride with impressive cargo space. Its compact size and agile handling make it an ideal city companion, even in bustling urban environments. While the rear legroom might seem limited and the acceleration might not be the fastest, the MX-30 represents a significant step in Mazda's commitment towards a sustainable future. 

What is the most environmentally friendly car?

When it comes to environmental friendliness, a number of factors come into play. These include the car's fuel efficiency, emissions, materials used in production, and its overall life cycle, from manufacture to disposal. It's not always an easy question to answer. But thankfully, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has done the research and provided us with a comprehensive list of the greenest cars for 2023.


Taking into account these multi-faceted criteria, the Mini Cooper SE has been crowned as the most environmentally friendly car as of 2023 by the ACEEE. This all-electric wonder offers zero tailpipe emissions and boasts impressive energy efficiency, playing a significant role in combating climate change. But the Mini Cooper SE is not just about environmental stewardship; it's about making the drive exciting as well. 


Fusing modern technology with the charm of the 1960s Minis, and backed by the engineering prowess of BMW, the Mini Cooper SE demonstrates that going green can be synonymous with style, fun, and affordability. If you wish to delve deeper into the criteria and the full list of the greenest cars, you can check it out on ACEEE's website.

Which car has the smallest carbon footprint?

Determining the car with the smallest carbon footprint isn't as straightforward as one might think. It requires assessing not just tailpipe emissions, but the full life cycle of the car - from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing, through to its operation, maintenance, and eventual disposal or recycling. It's a comprehensive analysis that takes into account a wide range of factors.


Using this holistic approach, the Nissan Leaf emerges as the vehicle with the smallest carbon footprint. As a pioneering force in the electric vehicle market, the Leaf has always been focused on minimizing its environmental impact throughout the entire life cycle of the car. Its combination of zero tailpipe emissions, efficient production processes, and end-of-life recyclability has helped it secure this distinguished position.


To aid understanding about the life cycle carbon footprints of different cars, Green NCAP has developed an excellent Life-Cycle Assessment tool. This tool provides insightful data on various vehicles, considering every stage of their life cycle. It's a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the broader environmental implications of owning different cars. If you'd like to explore it for yourself, you can check it out here.

nissan leaf
nissan leaf

Which car has the smallest carbon footprint?

Determining the car with the smallest carbon footprint isn't as straightforward as one might think. It requires assessing not just tailpipe emissions, but the full life cycle of the car - from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing, through to its operation, maintenance, and eventual disposal or recycling. It's a comprehensive analysis that takes into account a wide range of factors.


Using this holistic approach, the Nissan Leaf emerges as the vehicle with the smallest carbon footprint. As a pioneering force in the electric vehicle market, the Leaf has always been focused on minimizing its environmental impact throughout the entire life cycle of the car. Its combination of zero tailpipe emissions, efficient production processes, and end-of-life recyclability has helped it secure this distinguished position.


To aid understanding about the life cycle carbon footprints of different cars, Green NCAP has developed an excellent Life-Cycle Assessment tool. This tool provides insightful data on various vehicles, considering every stage of their life cycle. It's a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the broader environmental implications of owning different cars. If you'd like to explore it for yourself, you can check it out here.

How to choose an environmentally friendly car

Choosing an environmentally friendly car is about more than just picking an electric vehicle. There are many factors to consider, each one playing its own role in the overall impact the car has on the environment. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Assess the car’s lifecycle

When choosing an eco-friendly vehicle, it's important to look beyond its operational emissions. Consider the car's lifecycle emissions, which include the energy used in manufacturing and disposal, along with the emissions produced during its operation.

2. Understand the power source

The source of the electricity that powers an electric vehicle significantly influences its environmental impact. If possible, opt for renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar.

3. Look at fuel efficiency

Even if you're not ready to make the switch to an electric vehicle, you can still make a difference by choosing a car with high fuel efficiency. The higher the car's miles per gallon (MPG), the less fuel it uses and the fewer emissions it produces.

4. Check the car’s emission standard

Vehicles that meet stricter emission standards produce fewer pollutants. Look for vehicles that meet or exceed the latest emission standards set by the government.

5. Think about the car’s lifespan

A car that lasts longer reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing a new car. Choose a vehicle known for its longevity and maintain it well to extend its lifespan.

6. Consider the ease of maintenance

Cars that are easier to maintain tend to last longer and perform better, both of which reduce their overall environmental impact. Check the vehicle's maintenance record and choose a model that has a reputation for reliability and ease of maintenance.


Choosing an eco-friendly car doesn't have to be a daunting task. With a FINN car subscription, you can easily find a vehicle that fits your lifestyle and is in line with your environmental values. Our comprehensive database and intuitive interface make it simple to compare vehicles based on their environmental impact, helping you to make an informed and sustainable choice.

Final thoughts

The movement towards more environmentally friendly cars is more than just a trend, it's a significant stride towards combating climate change and preserving our planet. By understanding the key factors in choosing such vehicles, from assessing lifecycle emissions to considering power sources and fuel efficiency, you can make informed decisions that contribute to a more sustainable future.


And remember, you don't necessarily have to buy a car to enjoy the benefits of driving. With FINN, you can subscribe to a car instead. It's an alternative that offers flexibility, convenience and an array of eco-friendly options. 


With FINN, you're just a few clicks away from subscribing to an eco-friendly car that fits your lifestyle. Browse available models and find the one that best fits your lifestyle and aligns with your commitment to the environment. If you're looking for the best car leasing deals with $0 down, FINN has you covered.

Final thoughts
Final thoughts

Final thoughts

The movement towards more environmentally friendly cars is more than just a trend, it's a significant stride towards combating climate change and preserving our planet. By understanding the key factors in choosing such vehicles, from assessing lifecycle emissions to considering power sources and fuel efficiency, you can make informed decisions that contribute to a more sustainable future.


And remember, you don't necessarily have to buy a car to enjoy the benefits of driving. With FINN, you can subscribe to a car instead. It's an alternative that offers flexibility, convenience and an array of eco-friendly options. 


With FINN, you're just a few clicks away from subscribing to an eco-friendly car that fits your lifestyle. Browse available models and find the one that best fits your lifestyle and aligns with your commitment to the environment. If you're looking for the best car leasing deals with $0 down, FINN has you covered.