2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon, Half Moon Bay, CA, May 2011
As we head into final deliberations for the Best Car To Buy 2018 award, it's worth looking back over our first seven years of winners.
The list of seven different models or lineups gives a sense of just how far green cars have come—and how fast they've evolved since 2011.
Our first award that year came on the heels of the December 2010 launch of both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.
Since that first award—given to the Nissan Leaf as the world's first affordable modern battery-electric vehicle—much has changed.
So we figured we'd run down each of the winners and add a comment or two in retrospect.
Overall, we're relatively satisfied with the list, although there's one winner we'd likely change if we'd known at the time what we know now.
2011 Nissan Leaf prototype
2011 Nissan Leaf
This was the electric car that started it all, the first mass-priced modern car run purely on battery power with no tailpipe.
Rated at 73 miles of range, the 2011 model was the first of what are now almost 300,000 Leafs sold worldwide.
2012 Toyota Prius family
While the fist Toyota Prius launched for the 2000 model year, 2012 was the year in which three new members joined the third-generation Prius Liftback in a four-car lineup.
They were the Prius Plug-In Hybrid (albeit with a mere 11 miles of EPA-rated electric range), the Prius C subcompact hatchback, and the larger Prius V wagon.
Altogether, we felt the four Prius models offered an array of options for achieving better fuel economy: 42 mpg combined for the Prius V, 50 mpg combined for the other three under the test procedures in place at the time. (EPA ratings have since been revised downwards.)
2013 Tesla Model S, in July 2017 [photo: David Noland]
2013 Tesla Model S
This was as close as we came to a no-brainer: the Tesla Model S was the first electric car with a range of more than 200 miles, not to mention Tesla's ambitious plans for a network of Supercharger stations that would cover North America.
The Model S wowed buyers, despite a rocky launch and numerous teething troubles in its first year or so. But Tesla has continually refined its five-door luxury sedan with more power, more range, and more active-safety systems.
It's also largely fulfilled the promise to build a Supercharger network that allows coast-to-coast drives. It's a remarkable achievement from an unexpected and interesting company.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid
We were very impressed by the hybrid version of the Accord sedan that had been redesigned for 2013. It was smooth, powerful, comfortable, and delivered real-world gas mileage of 40 mpg or better.
It was also a handsome sedan, entirely different to the Space Age oddity that was the Toyota Prius.
Regrettably, continual production problems meant that buyers grew deeply frustrated with a lack of Accord Hybrids at dealers—and by the time supplies improved, gasoline prices had fallen considerably.