Greening the Family Car – Choosing Your Top Features

Back in 2004 when we were new parents of twins, our definition of a green family car was a family vehicle that would carry all of us, including my sister-in-law and was the color green.  We purchased a 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan (middle vehicle) that would seat 7 and carry enough gear for everyone.

Is it the Honda CRV, Toyota Sienna or Toyota Prius or something else?
Honda CRV – Toyota Sienna – Toyota Prius
Which one is the green family car?

Now, our definition of green is different and thankfully we have a lot more options for our next green family cars.

In November 2008, when we were replacing our recently totaled Volkswagen Passat (the car I bought before I had kids, but knew I eventually wanted to), we had exactly one option in terms of green family sedans which was the Camry Hybrid.  It was the only hybrid sedan on the market and with our twins and thoughts of another child, we knew the Prius was just too small for our growing family.

Fast forward to October 2012, our beloved Camry Hybrid is totaled in a car accident where thankfully no one was seriously injured, and we need to find a new car.  Being environmentally conscious, saving energy and reducing emissions are even more important to us now than just four years ago, so we set out to quickly survey the field of “green” family cars.

So, what does “green” mean for a family to us?

garbage truck followed by a Chevy Volt on a road in traffic
Chevy Volt stopped in traffic on my way to work one morning

We’re dreaming of a plug-in hybrid minivan to eventually replace our Sienna, but they do not exist, yet.  Since we already have a larger 7 passenger vehicle, we focused this time on a car that would hold all five of us and some stuff, but that was as efficient for commuting as we could afford.  I would love to try out a Tesla Model-S sedan, but starting at $49,000 and going up to just under $100,000 it is  too expensive. Maybe a Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid would fit the bill of a green family car.  At around $38,000 though it too is out of our price range.

Here are the aspects of a green family car that were most important to us:

  • Fuel Economy (MPG)
  • Safety
  • Reliability
  • Comfort
  • Price
  • bonus for Made in the USA

Some other aspects that may be important to you include:

White Toyota Prius v hybrid wagon in a parking spot
Toyota Prius v hybrid wagon at the dealership
  • Performance (or how fun it is to drive)
  • Ceiling Height for tall drivers and passengers
  • Zero Emissions (EV)
  • Luggage/Hauling Capacity
  • Seating for 6+ passengers
  • Appearance
  • Sun Roof

Before you start looking at cars, be sure to figure out what the top five or so features are for you so that you can choose the right car for your family.

Stay tuned for our next post on Greening the Family Car where I’ll discuss the features that led to our choosing our green family car.

Happy Greening!

Please share what the most important aspects features in a “green family car” are for you in the comments below.

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