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Toyota Prius Plug-in

$35,700

Vaughan: Here's the Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid, with an extension cord. When you plug it in you get an advertised 22 kilometres of electric-only driving. If 22 clicks a day will do you, you'll never visit a gas station again. It's certainly functional and not uncomfortable. But you will have to rely on the gasoline engine from time to time, so be patient if trying to pass or drive uphill. Cheap they're not, but there's free government dough if you live in the right provinces. If you want emission-free driving there's no safer choice.

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Ford C-Max Energi

$36,999

Cato: The objective of a plug-in hybrid is to use more electric drive and less gasoline. Displace gasoline with electricity, in other words. Ford's first production plug-in does that and more. This hybrid wagon/van is vastly more powerful than the Toyota Prius plug-in – by 54 hp – and has more range, too. It drives like a nifty little European van, and is loaded with all sorts of electronic readouts, including a leafy display that tells you if you're driving "green" – or not. You can also drive more than 40 km on a single charge of the lithium ion battery pack. Most importantly, the 195-horsepower equivalent output is seriously muscular.

Mitsubishi 

Mitusbishi i-MiEV

$32,998

Vaughan: Here's the least expensive all-electric car on the market today. The 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV – the four-seater with the funny name – goes like a jack rabbit when you stab the accelerator. It's about as long as your kitchen table but has comfortable seating for four adults. Great braking stops the vehicle quickly and also produces more juice for the big battery, which is sandwiched under the floor. Its silent electric motor produces 66 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. Have fun breezing through traffic, vibration- and emission-free, for maybe 100 kilometres, then rush home to plug it in.

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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

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