So you want an affordable car that will stand up to the rigors of the daily drive from the 'burbs to work? Oh, and preferably something that doesn't supersize your carbon footprint in the process?
What's a conscientious commuter to do?
Before you give up and invest in that used Yugo you've been eying in the "bargain rides" section of the classifieds, we're here to help.
These days there are a wide range of "green" vehicles for the Earth-conscious commuter to choose from.
Ranging from completely electric, eco-friendly compact cars to sport utility vehicles and family-friendly sedans able to burn the cleanest fuels, there is a green machine for nearly every situation.
Toyota Highlander hybrid
With a vehicle category highlighted by their dominance over Mother Earth, the SUV crowd is hard pressed to find gas-sipping, energy-conscious, terrain-dominating vehicles.
Despite the total lack of an all-electric SUV or even electric/gas combos, manufacturers are beginning to produce hybrid vehicles able to guzzle more Earth-friendly blends of fuel such as those made of ethanol while still being able to head off-road.
The Toyota Highlander has a hippie cousin that digs the ethanol. At 28 miles per gallon, it won't score many points with the Earth defense crowd, but rest assured with true four-wheel drive it's still able to head off road with its gasoline-powered siblings.
With an MSRP of $38,140 it's pricier than the traditionally powered Highlander, but it's a small price to pay for the hybrid badge gracing an otherwise mud-covered fender.
Toyota Camry hybrid
It would appear that the alternative or hybrid vehicle market mirrors the fashion world where smaller is better.
The vast majority of electric and hybrid vehicles fall into the compact or sub-compact categories, leaving a family of five little to choose from.
The best-selling Toyota Camry is one option the Earth-loving family able to seat five adults.
Though not electric, it is able to get 35 miles per gallon using hybrid fuels. The $21,955 MSRP is a small price to pay to instill energy conservation in the little ones.
You can rest assured you're getting a safe ride for your family, too. Consumer Reports picked the Toyota Camry Hybrid as its top family sedan and it also received the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety's top safety pick for 2012.
If you're looking to go small, but don't want to pay for a hybrid, Chevrolet's newly revamped Sonic may be right for you.
The Sonic is General Motor's replacement for the Chevy Aveo, which never quite proved to be a runaway hit. And if you weren't exactly a fan of the Aveo, rest assured, the Sonic got a redesign with a more aggressive grill and a more stylish cockpit.
Available as a sedan starting at $13,865 and a hatchback at $14,765, the Chevy Sonic is a steal. Like most compact cars, the sonic is small. Like a modern clown car, it's exterior belies an impressive amount of interior space.
The "green" aspect of the Sonic is the car's gasoline-powered efficiency. The lightweight, tuned engine is able to achieve an impressive 40 miles per gallon on the highway.