How to Find the Best Eco-Friendly Family Vehicle

When you’re young and seemingly indestructible, driving a tiny, two-seater sports cars with a souped-up engine is the absolute bee’s knees (or so your Granny might quip). But you get a little older, a little wiser – before you know it you’ve had a few auto accidents, not to mention a few kids, and you realize that the flashy sports car is neither safe nor environmentally sound enough for your changing sensibilities. In short, it’s not a forward-thinking family vehicle. So you sell off the two-seater in favor of something that suits your new lifestyle. But what should you replace it with? Minivans, SUVs, and wagons may offer the space and safety you want when you drive your family around, but most of them suck down even more fuel than your zippy sports car did. So how can you reconcile your interest in keeping the planet clean for the future of your children with your desire to cart the kids around in a safe and roomy vehicle? Here are just a few tips to help you find the eco-family car you crave.

You first need to acquaint yourself with the environmental options on the market, and there are quite a few these days, such as plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars (both of which still qualify for both federal and state tax incentives, unlike the hybrids of old). And while these alternatives to the dominant mode of transportation (cars that run solely on petroleum products) are eminently eco-friendly, one still uses gasoline and the other may come with limited range. However, they definitely bear consideration, especially if you’re okay with simply cutting back on fuel consumption (hybrid) or you don’t travel more than, say, 50 miles in the average day (electric).

Of course, there are also a variety of alternative fuels to consider, and most offer better mileage (saving you money at the pump) and reduced (if any) carbon emissions. Cleaner-burning diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) are two options that are taking the country by storm at the moment. The former can be found at most gas stations (although not all) and the number of stations supporting the latter is growing as more and more people convert their engines or purchase CNG vehicles. There is also ethanol, biodiesel, and a couple of other options to consider, but these types of fuel can be difficult to obtain, so you need to do further research on fueling stations in your area before you go ahead and make the leap to a non-gasoline alternative fuel.

Now that you know what’s out there, how do you go about finding the best green vehicle for your family’s needs? Well, you wouldn’t buy new cars or even used trucks without doing comparisons, checking consumer research, and reviewing safety ratings. The same holds true for purchasing an eco-friendly vehicle. So start checking magazines and blogs that are geared towards environmental technology or car culture to find road tests and reviews. This will help you begin the process of comparing green vehicles so that you can find the one that will best suit the wants and needs of your family.