The third-generation version of the Toyota Highlander stills sells in the hundreds of thousands annually, which makes the cautious, calculated approach that Toyota took in fully redesigning its mid-size three-row SUV for the 2020 model year rather unsurprising. Still, a cadre of fresh competitors from Ford, Kia, Hyundai, and Subaru, among others, means Toyota had to notably up its game in this hotbed of a marketspace. Through a combination of a new platform, more standard and optional equipment, and a greater sense of overall refinement, the fourth-gen Highlander manages to do just that.

HIGHS: Sharper styling inside and out, more efficient hybrid powertrain, loads of standard and optional tech, stronger value proposition.

Regular C/D readers surely will ask: Do the new Highlander's updates make it better than the Kia Telluride, which absolutely nails its mission in this segment and has earned pretty much every accolade we can give it, including a comparison-test victory and a 2020 10Best award? We'll lock the two in a cage match as soon as we get a proper Highlander test vehicle. But our initial exposure to this Toyota in Texas did reveal it to have improved looks and more crisply pressed sheetmetal. It's now built on Toyota's solid TNGA-K platform, which also underpins the latest Avalon, Camry, and RAV-4 models. Next to the old model, the Highlander is a smidge wider and a modest 2.4 inches longer in wheelbase and overall length, with all of that stretch going to increased cargo capacity. Both V-6 and hybrid powertrains, something few of its peers offer, remain available, and there's now an arsenal of standard driver assists in Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0 bundle, from adaptive cruise control to front and rear automatic emergency braking that will prevent you from backing out of a parking space if a car is approaching.

A Composed, Sedate Driver

The meandering country roads of our drive route offered few opportunities to probe the Highlander's handling limits without tripling the posted speed limits. And, if we're honest, that's of little consequence in what amounts to a people mover that's just a couple sliding doors removed from a Sienna minivan. But this Toyota's electrically assisted steering does twirl precisely, even if it is a bit slow to respond to initial inputs. There is a satisfyingly firm brake pedal, particularly the hybrid's, and it's easy to modulate. The rather softly tuned strut front and multilink rear suspension has gentle body movements and delivers a decently plush ride over shoddy pavement, even on the optional 20-inch wheels (18s are standard).

The Highlander tracks straight and true at highway speeds, and intrusions of road, wind, and engine noise are pleasingly subdued. Opt for either the top Limited or Platinum trim levels and a laminated, sound-attenuating windshield and front side glass noticeably tamp down noise levels further—the better to enjoy the impressive 1200-watt JBL audio system upgrade. Competent and predictable, if a bit bland, are hallmark Toyota road manners, and they apply to the Highlander in spades.

LOWS: Snooze-worthy driving experience, fussy interior detailing, third row is still tight for adults.

The standard 3.5-liter V-6 is unchanged from last year and still develops 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. (The previous standard 2.7-liter inline-four has been discontinued.) Married to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the V-6 thrums in the background but delivers ample thrust with only moderate fuss when poked hard. For a quick merge onto the highway, we did find it necessary to poke it to find its high 4700-rpm torque peak. The eight-speed often quickly upshifts to top gear to aid efficiency yet is tuned smartly and operates unobtrusively, making it a close ally to the V-6. Additional assistance comes from a claimed weight reduction of around 250 pounds for the V-6 model and slightly more for hybrid versions, but we'll confirm that once we get one on our scales. All V-6–powered 2020 Highlanders come standard with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive costs $1600 to $1950, depending on the trim level, with Limited and Platinum versions featuring the more advanced of the two mechanical setups with a torque-vectoring rear differential that can both distribute torque to either rear wheel and disconnect the rear driveshaft for more efficient cruising.

A Smarter Hybrid

Spring for the Highlander hybrid, which costs an additional $1400 and is offered in all but the base L trim level, and you'll get a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four along with two electric motor-generators that are combined through a planetary gearset to create a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); the nickel-metal-hydride battery resides under the second-row seats. Combined output is 243 horsepower, which is a considerable step down from the previous, 306-hp V-6–powered Highlander hybrid. Yet, the new setup offers more than enough acceleration to beat most traffic, with its electric motors providing a small yet welcome fill of low-rpm torque. Front-wheel drive is standard for the first time on the Highlander hybrid. All-wheel drive, which consists of a third electric motor on the rear axle that kicks in when the system detects wheel slippage, warrants the same upcharge as on V-6 models. Toyota has yet to release full specs of the Highlander's hybrid components but says that the bulk of the system is similar to the previous model's, albeit both slightly more powerful and efficient.

The 20 percent or so of Highlander buyers that Toyota expects to opt for the hybrid are probably going to like it. The on-road behavior is similar to the V-6's, and the CVT is decently responsive and tuned to keep the inline-four from droning excessively under hard acceleration. As with the regular version, there's little noticeable difference between the hybrid's drive modes (Normal, Eco, Sport, and hybrid-only EV), save for the Sport setting's slightly sharper throttle response and tendency to hold engine revs higher. All-wheel-drive Highlanders also feature a driver-adjustable terrain-select system for optimizing the drivetrain for mud/sand, rock/dirt, and snowy surfaces. Maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds for the hybrid and 5000 with the V-6.

Compared to the previous Highlander hybrid, which carried an EPA combined estimate of 28 to 29 mpg, depending on the model, the new version sees a considerable bump in fuel economy to a combined 36 mpg for front-drive models and 35 mpg with all-wheel drive. Toyota says to expect about 600 miles of range from the hybrid's 17.1-gallon fuel tank. V-6­–powered versions are rated similarly as before, earning a 24-mpg combined estimate with front-wheel drive and a one-mpg penalty with all-wheel drive.

Practicality and Technology

The packaging of the new seven- or eight-passenger Highlander places it in the middle of its competitive space—larger than the driver-focused Mazda CX-9 yet not as cavernous as the Chevrolet Traverse or Volkswagen Atlas. Its front seats are nicely sculpted for good side and lumbar support, as are the spacious second row's, which also have a useful amount of slide-and-recline adjustability; a three-across middle-row bench seat or captain's chairs are available, depending on the trim level. The third row, however, is no larger than before, is as flat as a board, and, while tolerable for short jaunts, is a too small for adults to access and be comfortable in. More important, at least to Toyota's focus groups, is that the increase in the Highlander's length has yielded a decent 16 cubic feet of cargo space with the third row raised—2 cubic feet more than before. Stow the third row, and it grows to 48 cubic feet and 84 cubes with the second row folded flat. Ikea, here we come.

Given that the previous Highlander debuted for the 2014 model year, the new model's greatest strides have been made in regard to technology and design. The dashboard and center console has been modernized and there’s an uptick in material quality. Toyota may have tried a bit too hard toward the top end of the model lineup. The sheer number of different materials and intersecting forms in the top Platinum models we drove makes it a bit fussy and overdone. Things are better in the volume XLE model where you get a more cohesive and less ornate presentation of colors and textures. Still, none of the available trims can touch the packaging, usability, and upscale finish of the best in the class, the Kia Telluride and its Hyundai Palisade platform-mate, both of which also offer some luxuries not available on the Toyota, such as a microsuede headliner and ventilated second-row seats.

The Highlander's tech quotient is bolstered by a standard 4.2-inch digital display between the analog gauges that can be upgraded to a 7.0-inch unit, as well as a standard 8.0-inch central touchscreen or an optional 12.3-incher. Current Highlander owners will be delighted with how crisply and relatively logically all of the new readouts render information, as well as with the numerous redundant hard buttons on the center stack and console. Along with the aforementioned active-safety features, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and Wi-Fi connectivity all are standard fare. Additional welcome gizmos include an optional digital rearview interior mirror, wireless device charging, a 360-degree surround-view camera system, and a configurable 10.0-inch head-up display.

Stronger Value

That all of the 2020 Highlander's improvements come with only a small increase in price over the outgoing version—at least when comparing V-6 to V-6 models—make Toyota's latest three-row ute look like a winner. While the trim lineup is simplified (L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum), you get more features for only a bit more outlay, although the $35,720 starting point for the L trim is thousands higher than many competitors. The value-packed XLE begins at $40,720, and Platinum versions nudge the wrong side of $50K when loaded with options.

The fourth-gen Highlander is not radical, sexy, nor exciting, nor is it likely to upend the three-row class. But it is, at least from our initial experience, highly capable and better than its predecessor. It might not be our choice, but it has the reputation, practicality, and modern features that buyers expect in a very competitive segment.

Specifications

Specifications

2020 Toyota Highlander

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, front- or all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback

BASE PRICE
L, $34,600; LE, $36,800; LE Hybrid, $38,200; XLE, $39,600; XLE Hybrid, $41,000, Limited, $43,650; Limited Hybrid, $45,050; Platinum, $46,850; Platinum Hybrid, $48,250

ENGINES
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4, 186 hp, 175 lb-ft + front or front and rear axle permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors; combined output, 243 hp; DOHC 24-valve 3.5-liter V-6, 295 hp, 263 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS
continuously variable automatic, 8-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 112.2 in
Length: 194.9 in
Width: 76.0 in
Height: 68.1 in
Passenger volume: 135–141 cu ft
Trunk volume: 16 cu ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 4200–4650 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 6.8–8.2 sec
100 mph: 18.2–19.5 sec
¼-mile: 15.3–16.6 sec
Top speed: 115 mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 23–36/20–36/27–35 mpg

Ford Authority ran a piece on Koons Ford, a dealer in Sterling, Virginia, advertising a 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 for $145,890. Based on listed options like the carbon fiber track package, technology package, and $10,000 painted stripes, FA played with the Mustang configurator at Ford's site and arrived at a price of $105,890. Koons Ford doesn't include a link to a window sticker on the dealer site, but remember, the new GT500 starts at $73,995 after destination, before any perks. But based on our own quick searches at Autotrader and eBay, Koons larding on $40,000 only earns it a silver trophy for ADM. DCH Ford of Thousand Oaks has advertised one of the 760-horsepower Mustangs for $169,999.

What's more, it appears that not only has the California dealer raised the ADM bar by at least $24,000 over Koons Ford, the DCH Ford example has a lot less equipment. Most of the content listed as options, such as Sync 3, 20-inch wheels, and "Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs," are actually standard equipment. There's no navigation, no Technology Package, no carbon fiber track package, no painted stripes, not even a premium color or a painted roof. DCH Ford doesn't link to a Monroney for the car, either, but as far as we can tell, this is a $73,995 entry-level model weighed down by a $96,004 ADM. Excuse the pun, but that is rich.

Autotrader shows a number of dealers ladling on various amounts of cream to the MSRP. Giving credit where it's due, however, it appears a much larger number of dealers are sticking to MSRP, at least on the Internet – anything can happen after picking up the phone or walking through the door. AutoNation Ford in Corpus Christi, Texas is advertising a car with the Tech and Handling packages for the same $78,495 that a window sticker would show. Village Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, has done the same, and CarGurus lists dealers from Nebraska to Florida to Maine with prices that match the MSRPs. Assuming they're all on the up and up, GT500 shoppers can probably avoid tangling with outfits like Koons and DCH – or the guy on eBay who's already "got [his] eye on something else" and wants $99,000 for his 300-mile car – to catch the same fish for less time and hassle on the line.

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The boards of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot maker PSA Group were meeting separately on Tuesday to discuss finalizing an initial agreement for a $50 billion merger to create the world's number four automaker, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A person close to FCA said the two companies could announce the signing of a binding memorandum early on Wednesday, followed by a conference call to explain further details later in the day.

Ahead of the meetings, entities representing the Peugeot family, Etablissements Peugeot Freres and FFP, unanimously approved a proposed memorandum of understanding for the planned merger, a person familiar with the situation said.

The French state, which owns about 12 percent of PSA and has board representation, supports a binding memorandum of understanding that reflects minor changes to an accord unveiled by the two automakers on Oct. 31, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The combination "makes sense in order to build a new champion with global scale to take on the challenges of sustainable mobility," a French finance ministry official said in a statement.

FCA and PSA announced their plan six weeks ago to create an automotive powerhouse that would challenge Volkswagen Group in Europe, while maintaining Chrysler's Detroit 3 presence in the U.S.

The new company would be based in the Netherlands and headed by PSA CEO Carlos Tavares. Fiat Chrysler Chairman John Elkann would keep his role as chairman.

The deal will turn two midsize automakers into a global giant, with sales of more than 8 million vehicles a year and a stable of brands including PSA's Peugeot and Citroen and Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Ram.

The automakers are responding to growing pressure on the industry to pool resources for product development, manufacturing and purchasing in the face of trade tensions, a global sales slowdown and an expensive shift toward electric and self-driving technology.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report

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LONDON — London police are investigating the theft of a large cache of “high value jewelry” reported stolen from the palatial home of heiress Tamara Ecclestone, the daughter of former Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone.

The Sun newspaper said the stolen jewelry was worth about 50 million pounds ($66 million) and included precious rings, earrings and a Cartier bangle Ecclestone received as a wedding present.

The Metropolitan Police said officers went to the home on Friday evening after receiving reports of a burglary. No arrests have been made.

“Tamara and family are well but obviously angry and shaken by the incident,” a family statement read.

The family's private security team is cooperating with police, the statement said.

    Former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton is used to going fast. But when he's tooling around his Indiana hometown in his dramatically customized 1952 Ford pickup truck, he's more used to going backward instead.

    Well, at least giving the impression that he's going backward. As a creative car guy who has modified a few cars in his day, Hamilton, along with his dad, came up with the idea to rotate the truck's body around so that when he drives down the road, it looks like he's doing everything in reverse.

    Turns out, there are no rules on the books about just which end of the body needs to be pointing in which direction on a vehicle, so once Hamilton and his crew installed things like headlights, taillights and windshield wipers in the "right" places and the truck passed inspection, he was cleared to drive. And as you can see in the video above from Barcroft Cars' Ridiculous Rides, he enjoys the attention that driving backward brings.

    image

    PowerNation via YouTube

    As for actually doing the conversion, Hamilton said that all of the body mounts had to be moved around to fit the reversal, which took some time to get right. There was plenty of room for the Chevy 350 engine in the truck's bed (which is now covered by a piece of plywood) but he needed to install a larger radiator, since the air that came into the engine bay from holes in the tailgate—surprise—wasn't enough to cool the engine on its own. A fuel tank in the former trunk and some leftover racing seats in the cabin, and the pickup was ready to go.

    The modifications make the truck relatively easy to drive, Hamilton says, as long as he remembers to get into the "wrong" door every time. Since the seats face the front way in the cabin, there's not a lot of room for his legs. That's apparently a small price to pay for making sure he has a Ford unlike anything else in town.

    Hamilton was not the first person to think of reversing the body on top of a powertrain and chassis. The trick has been used in movies: a stunt Subaru WRX was modified to run backward during a scene in Kingsman: The Secret Service to create the illusion that a car chase happened with the Subaru in reverse. There was also a Chevy truck owner who did the front-is-rear treatment to his early 1990s Sierra pickup. Sometimes, to go forward, you've got to think backward.

    The BMW i8 began inching down production lines at BMW's Leipzig plant in 2014. Five years later, Leipzig workers have celebrated building the 20,000th example of the i brand's second offering and flagship product. A German customer will be the owner of the celebratory model, one of the i8 Roadster Ultimate Sophisto Editions the automaker debuted at the Geneva Motor Show this year. There are only 400 Ultimate Sophisto models planned for global consumption, 200 i8 Roadsters and 200 i8 Coupes. Each get upgrades like Sophisto Grey exterior paint with E-Copper accents, exclusive 20-inch wheels with E-Copper accents, an E-Copper Leather interior and special badging.

    The standard powertrain goes unchanged in the special edition. A 1.5-liter three-cylinder with 228 horsepower gets assistance from a 141-horsepower electric motor powered by a 11.6-kWh lithium-ion battery for a total system output of 369 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque.  

    BMW will produce the Sophisto models until the end of production, programmed for next April. The automaker hasn't said anything definitive about what might replace the i8. BMW has said a successor might not slot in as a direct follow-up to the M8, and the obvious choice would be to work up a production version of the Vision M Next. Earlier this year, Automobile said that's what's happening, with a mid-engined coupe called the i12 on the way with a 671-hp system horsepower and a whopping 135-kWh battery. The M division is on the cusp of admitting its standalone M car project, which might or might not be the i12, and has already confessed that an electrified M car is not far away, so there are a few ways this could go, whenever it happens.

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      Toyota has priced its new 2020 Highlander on the expensive side of the three-row SUV segment. It starts at $35,720 for the base L model, a few thousand dollars more than competitors such as the Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9. The hybrid model, which starts off at the LE trim level, starts at $39,320 and ranges up to over $50,000 when fully loaded.

      That starting price is $2770 higher than the old Highlander, which is mostly attributable to the fact that the previous base engine, a 2.7-liter inline-four, has been dropped. A 3.5-liter V-6 engine is newly standard on all gas models and it mates with an eight-speed automatic and either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive for $1600–$1950 extra. Trim levels for the V-6 model start off with L and also include LE ($37,920), XLE ($40,720), Limited ($44,770), and Platinum ($47,970).

      The 2020 Highlander hybrid has a new powertrain that uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine rather than the previous model's 3.5-liter V-6 engine. It promises higher fuel economy than before, and it too is slightly more expensive than the 2019 Highlander. Hybrid pricing starts at $39,320 for the LE despite the fact that all-wheel-drive is no longer standard. The hybrid is also available in the better-equipped XLE ($42,120), Limited ($46,170), and Platinum ($49,370) trim levels.

      Nonhybrid 2020 Highlander models will start arriving at dealerships in December, while hybrids will go on sale in February 2020.

      For now though, Biermann sounds like he wants to turn the fire-breathing RM19 into an ultra-performance halo car that could be sitting in dealerships within a few years.

      "It's possible to build a production version, but it would be expensive and in small numbers," he said. Perhaps, he added, it would better after the "N community" grows with new product and visibility.

      The performance offshoot was established in 2015 and its philosophy is that N vehicles must have the performance and durability for sustained driving on a racetrack. One step down is the N-Line, with performance and appearance upgrades, but not track-level ability.

      So far, the only N car in the U.S. is the Veloster, but Biermann said a crossover will get the N treatment shortly. It will have a new eight-speed automatic transmission that will also make its way into the Veloster N, currently sold only with a manual.

      The RM19 prototype is rear-wheel drive with the motor sitting where the back seat would be in a regular, front-wheel-drive Veloster N. The RM19 has a more powerful version of the Veloster's turbocharged, 2.0-liter engine, making 390 hp. It also has a racing transmission that uses a clutch and paddle shifters.

      Biermann said the next iteration of the RM19 is moving toward a new turbocharged 2.5-liter engine with the eight-speed automatic. Basic versions of those components can be found in a Sonata N-Line going on sale in fall 2020 that was previewed to the media this month.

      Biermann admits the RM19 would be a pretty wild ride for street use — but it's headed in that direction.

      "At this point, there's no decision this car will ever go to the marketplace," he said. "But we are getting closer now."

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      12 Used Hybrids and EVs that aren't dreary, impractical and/or a Prius

      In case you missed the news, Greta Thunburg was named TIME's 2019 Person of the Year. In late September, 2019, the 16-year-old climate change activist addressed the United Nations as part of its Climate Change Summit. But of perhaps greater significance, she brought together millions of people from hundreds of countries who took part in the largest global climate demonstration in history.

      Because climate change is real and something that all of us need to address, we have provided some ideas about how you can reduce your carbon footprint. One of the key ways involves your next car purchase. Specifically, we recommended that buying a used hybrid or EV was the best way to achieve the lowest carbon footprint when owning a car.

      That said, we readily admit that we don't want to drive some soulless transportation pod. We like to drive. We like distinctive and stylish cars. We have families that need more space than your typical EV or hybrid provides. Some of us even would prefer an SUV. We don't think we're alone.

      So, here are 12 used hybrids and EVs that aren't dreary, less practical than conventional versions and/or a Prius – because we all agreed we didn't want to drive a Prius. We think these are pretty good, distinctive cars, and the good news is that this list will get even longer as the current wave of desirable new hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs start hitting the used and certified pre-owned market.

      Tesla Model S

      This one seems like a no-brainer, right? Early Tesla Model S examples start around $40,000 with fairly low mileage. We'd be a little iffy about the reliability and the fact the bumper-to-bumper warranty runs out after four years, but all the electric components are covered for eight years and unlimited miles. Even these early Model S cars were fantastic cars to drive, and not much has really changed over the years besides over-the-air updates and a questionable styling refresh.

      Tesla Model S Information

      Tesla Model S

      BMW i3

      When we asked around the office "which used hybrid or EV would you buy?" the BMW i3 was the most common answer. Specifically, the Range Extender (REX) model that provides extra distance when you need it. The i3 may be weird looking, but the driving experience, interior packaging, advanced engineering (carbon fiber!), bonkers pizza pie wheels and achingly cool interior make us true believers. Its a characterful and endearing car in a way so many modern BMW's are not. Oh, and a ton are coming off lease now and can be had starting in the mid teens.

      BMW i3 Information

      BMW i3

      Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

      Nothing sexy about the last-generation of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, but it is a compact SUV, and let's face it, those are the hot-ticket item these days. The thing about the RAV4 Hybrid is that it is arguably the most appealing version of the RAV4. Whereas the regular gas version is matched or surpassed in most areas by key competitors (cough, Honda CR-V, cough), the Hybrid offers fuel economy that cannot be touched and, when removed from that competitive glare, is a well-rounded, extremely practical package. That applies to a used Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as well.

      Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Information

      Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

      Chevrolet Volt

      The Volt, which is on its way out of production after the 2019 model year, was another popular answer around the office, whether you're considering the newer, more stylish second-generation seen here or the original-generation. With either, you get a car that's surprisingly fun to drive thanks to its immediate electric thrust, super-low center of gravity and well-tuned suspension. No matter the year you consider, there should also get more infotainment features than a contemporary competitor.

      Chevrolet Volt Information

      Chevrolet Volt

      Fiat 500e

      Want an EV for dirt cheap that's also goofy-fun to drive and absolutely dripping with character? Behold, the Fiat 500e! We've seen these on the used market as low as $6,000, which is definitely less than some golf carts. Sure, perhaps getting a better example for a bit more would be a good idea, but still, if you have a short commute, the relative fun-to-cost proportion is unbeatable.

      Fiat 500e Information

      Fiat 500e

      Lexus NX 300h

      Want a compact luxury SUV? Cool, you're definitely not alone. Want one that's also a hybrid? Well, dear friend, this is literally your used choice. The good news is, the Lexus NX is actually a pretty solid option. Say what you will about the Lexus styling (some love, many hate), but it's meticulously built with a beautiful interior. The driving experience is refined, comfortable and surprisingly sharp for a company best known for selling dreary old man's transport. Oh, and it gets 32 mpg combined versus the low-to-mid 20's you'd be looking at with everything else.

      Lexus NX 300h Information

      Lexus NX 300h

      Volkswagen eGolf

      The Volkswagen Golf is one of our favorite compact cars. The electric version, dubbed eGolf, changes very little from the gas version apart from batteries and a motor replacing gas tanks and an engine. You don't even lose cargo space and there aren't any contrived electric styling flourishes beyond some blue trim here and there. As such, the eGolf is therefore also one of our favorite compact cars. Or at least it was before it was discontinued — we look forward to seeing the new I.D series of electric vehicles from Volkswagen.

      Volkswagen eGolf Information

      Volkswagen eGolf

      Honda Accord Hybrid

      The older Honda Accord Hybrid you see above uses the same basic hybrid set-up as today's version, relying on the electric motor to directly power the wheels in most instances with the gas engine mostly serving as an electricity generator. This provides a more EV-like driving experience, in the best possible way, in terms of throttle response and acceleration feel. It's also a Honda Accord, widely considered one of the smartest used car choices you could ever make for its general well-rounded excellence and superlative reliability reputation. 

      Honda Accord Hybrid Information

      Honda Accord Hybrid

      Lexus RX 450h

      This recommendation goes to the current generation, which debuted for 2016 and seriously upped the traditionally conservative and dull RX's driver engagement and style. You can even get the RX 450h hybrid with the F Sport package, which looks cooler and a boasts an adaptive suspension that improves both handling and the ride. Lexus reliability is a major reason to take note, as is the fact that the RX 450h's fuel economy is genuinely thrifty unlike some other hybrid midsize SUVs.

      Lexus RX 450h Information

      Lexus RX 450h

      Honda CR-Z

      When it was introduced, people desperately wanted the CR-Z hybrid to be the reincarnation of the beloved Honda CRX. It was not. Its heavy hybrid powertrain and batteries dulled its performance and agility. Nevertheless, for a hybrid, it's a hoot. It also looks funky, can be found on the used market for less than $10,000, and benefits from Honda's reliability reputation. Plus, you get to see the surprised looks of friends who thought you said you bought a Honda CR-V

      Honda CR-Z Information

      Honda CR-Z

      Toyota Highlander Hybrid

      Here's your best bet for a used hybrid family hauler with three rows of seats (well, at least until the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid arrives on used lots in significant quantities). In fact, the Highlander Hybrid has been the only bet for years now, but at least the latest version represents a more competitive and appealing choice for reasons other than its low-for-the-segment fuel economy. This latest-generation Highlander Hybrid is well-rounded, well-built and more responsive to drive than its predecessors. 

      Toyota Highlander Hybrid Information

      Toyota Highlander Hybrid

      BMW i8

      The BMW i8 can now be had for around $70,000 on the used car market, and as it's a high-end sports car, none have high miles on them. The i8 was cool when it was introduced, it's cool now, it'll be cool in 20 years, and it's even cooler when you can buy one for less than half price. That's right, a new one starts at $147,500.

      And no, it isn't practical. But it's not dreary, not a Prius, and proof you can be green and drive something that looks like this.

      BMW i8 Information

      BMW i8