2013 Tesla Model S owned by David Noland, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2015Enlarge Photo
On Monday, Green Car Reports will name its 2017 Best Car To Buy.
It will be the seventh time we've given the award, and it's worth looking back to see how far green cars have progressed in those seven years.
We were lucky to start the award in 2011, the year two remarkable cars arrived on global markets: the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.
2011: Nissan Leaf
It was a tough choice, but in the end, we gave our 2011 award to the world's first modern battery-electric car. That year, the Leaf's EPA range rating was 73 miles.
In hindsight, that may not be enough to assuage the fears of North American buyers. It's now rated at 107 miles, with a 200-mile second-generation version expected to arrive next year.
But the Leaf remains by far the world's best-selling electric car, with 250,000 now delivered to buyers around the globe. It's simply a landmark car.
2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon, Half Moon Bay, CA, May 2011Enlarge Photo
2012: Toyota Prius family
The next year, our award went to the newly expanded family of Toyota Prius models.
While Toyota has launched its third-generation Prius hybrid for 2010, in 2012 it added three more models: a Prius C subcompact, a Prius V wagon, and a Prius Plug-In Hybrid (with a mere 11 miles of electric range).
But the Prius may be the first "green car" in the public eye, and Toyota has now sold more than 8 million hybrid cars. For that year, the array of Prius hybrid offerings was our collective award winner.
2013: Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S finally struggled into production late in the 2012 model year, too late for consideration, but it was the obvious winner for 2013.
With sleek, stylish lines, ranges over 200 miles for all of its models, and jaw-dropping performance in the higher-end versions, the Model S refuted essentially every stereotype used to criticize electric cars.
The Supercharger network of DC fast-charging sites hadn't been built at that point, but clearly the unlikely Silicon Valley startup carmaker knew something other electric-car makers didn't.
More than four years later, Tesla has sold well more than 125,000 Model Ses—and launched its crossover utility vehicle counterpart, the Model X as well.
2014 Honda Accord HybridEnlarge Photo
2014: Honda Accord Hybrid
For 2014, we reverted to a new hybrid car as our winner. The Honda Accord has been among the most successful mid-size sedans in North America, and the hybrid version launched that year was particularly good.
With an EPA combined gas-mileage rating of 47 mpg, a strong hybrid system with lots of all-electric running, and all the usual Accord benefits, the Accord Hybrid made for an excellent and practical way to drive green with few compromises.
Unfortunately, part supply issues over its 18 months of production limited output, and buyers were deeply frustrated at how few hybrid Accords were available. Honda pulled the model for a year, and relaunched it for 2017.
2015: Volkswagen Golf family
Well before the Volkswagen diesel scandal broke, we named the seventh-generation Golf hatchback and wagon our collective Best Car To Buy winners.
With an array of fuel-efficient gasoline engines, a battery-electric e-Golf variant, and of course the high-efficiency diesel model, the Golf offered multiple ways to drive green and have fun at the same time.
We debated withdrawing the award after the diesels were pulled from the market, but decided not to go backwards. Still, hardly our best award-winner in retrospect.
GM's Pam Fletcher and Josh Tavel accept Green Car Reports 2016 Best Car To Buy award for 2016 VoltEnlarge Photo
2016: Chevrolet Volt
Last year, our winner was the second-generation Chevy Volt. While the 2011 first-generation range-extended electric Volt narrowly lost out to the Leaf, last year the new Volt plug-in hybrid was a clear winner.
The 2016 Volt kept all the best characteristics of the old one, fixed virtually all of that car's drawbacks, and is EPA-rated at a whopping 53 miles of electric range—and 42 mpg combined when running in hybrid mode.
The new Volt is good enough that if we were in the market for a car, we just might put one in our garage. It's that good.