7 lucky deals on 'green' cars for St. Patrick's Day

Save real green on these fuel-efficient cars

Published: February 13, 2014 03:00 PM

Car buyers are in luck this St. Patrick’s Day as we highlight not only the new car deals of the month, but the best deals on “green” cars—models that offer excellent fuel economy for their class. Besides great mileage, these cars are available with discounts and incentives to leave green in your wallet.

All of the picks listed below, as with the rest of our Best New Car Deals, each meet Consumer Reports' criteria to be recommended. These vehicles scored well in our testing, have average or better reliability in our latest survey, and performed well in government or insurance-industry safety tests, if evaluated.

Each vehicle highlighted is available with at least a 5-percent discount off the retail price in incentives, often available through the end of the month depending on manufacturer, and hidden dealer holdback. Some vehicles may also carry consumer incentives that are directed at specific segments such as recent college graduates and members of the military, enabling further savings for informed negotiators. Specific pricing details on these and other trim variations are available on the model pages. But discounts aren’t given in a vacuum. Often they are given for models that don’t sell well, either for not delivering what they are supposed to or because they hide under customers’ radar screens.

While all good cars, the profiles below provide our candid insights based on weeks of testing. Click through the model names to read the complete road test, and check detailed pricing, reliability, owner costs, owner satisfaction, and other key data.

Build & Buy Car Buying Service

In addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers subscribers access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of more than 7,000 participating dealers provide upfront pricing information, as well as a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). The pricing information and guaranteed savings includes eligible incentives. Consumer Reports subscribers have saved an average of $2,919 off MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.

Acura ILX

2014 Acura ILX

The ILX shares some of it’s underpinning with the Honda Civic, which makes this compact sedan quite fuel efficient, returning 28 mpg overall in our tests with the most popular powertrain—a 150-hp four-cylinder engine with five-speed automatic. The driving position and rear seat are spacious given modest exterior dimensions but the ride is choppy, and road noise is pronounced. The ILX has premium options such as heated leather seats and HID headlights. The ILX stands out with the deepest discount at about 15 percent, but note that owner satisfaction is unimpressive for the ILX. 

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Acura ILX
3/31 $27,795 $26,573 Yes  15%+
BMW 3 Series

2014 BMW 3 Series

Overall the 3 Series is an excellent car, with agile handling, impressive ride comfort, noise isolation, and fit and finish, which makes it a joy to drive. The turbo four-cylinder makes the 328i quick yet frugal, achieving 28 mpg overall in the default Comfort mode. Inside, drivers should find a comfortable driving position with well-padded, supportive seats. Even though the view out is good, choose the optional backup camera.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Incentive Potential savings below MSRP
BMW 328i
3/31 $38,225 $35,840 Yes  10%+
Honda Accord

2014 Honda Accord

The four-cylinder Accord is our 2014 Top Pick for midsized sedan. Its 2.4-liter engine, when matched with the smooth continuously variable transmission, squeezes out an excellent 30 mpg overall and 40 mpg on the highway. That's as good as a tiny Honda Fit and better than most compact cars. Handling is responsive, and the ride is good, although it can be slightly fidgety. Inside, you are treated to one of the best driving positions available, comfortable seats, and terrific visibility. All Accords have a standard backup camera, rare among family sedans.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Honda Accord
4/3 $23,545 $21,828 Yes 10%+
Hyundai Elantra

2014 Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra is a well-rounded competitor that ranks near the top of our small-sedan Ratings. It’s easy to live with and combines nimble handling with a steady ride and a neatly laid out, well-equipped interior. The 148-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine provides decent performance and very good fuel economy at 29 mpg overall and 39 mpg on the highway, but it tends to be noisy when revved. The cabin is relatively spacious with a good driving position and decent rear seat room.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Hyundai Elantra
3/31 $19,010 $18,582 Yes  5%+
Kia Optima

2014 Kia Optima LX

The Optima is Kia's counterpart to the highly rated Hyundai Sonata midsized sedan. The base LX version we tested handles securely, the engine and transmission perform well, and fuel economy is quite respectable at 25 mpg overall. It threaded our avoidance maneuver at an impressively high maximum speed while instilling plenty of driver confidence. Ride comfort is not among the best in this class. The coupelike styling detracts from rear visibility, and the rear seat is a bit low, but it's still livable. The Optima offers a lot of car for the money, especially when backed by incentives.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Kia Optima LX
3/31 $22,300 $21,585 Yes  10%+
Mazda MX-5 Miata

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata

The Miata is a fun-to-drive, low-slung little roadster, with pinpoint handling, instant power delivery, and a crisp manual gearbox. Excellent fuel economy at 28 mpg overall is an extra bonus. The cabin is very tight and very, low so the Miata is not for everyone. The ride is surprisingly tolerable but cabin noise can grow wearying on long cruises.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Mazda MX-5 Miata
3/31 $28,345 $27,190 Yes  5%+
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

This agile, diesel-powered wagon provides performance and practicality. It has responsive handling with a composed ride that makes it fun to drive. Although acceleration is leisurely, it has a healthy dose of midrange punch. With the manual transmission, we got an impressive 36 mpg overall and 49 on the highway. The Sportwagen also has roomy interior, good reliability, and excellent resale value. Get it while you can because it will soon be replaced.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
3/31 $25,705 $24,710 Yes  5%+

Liza Barth

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