As of early April, the national average cost for gas was $2.41 per gallon, compared to $3.32 the previous year, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.
While this may be good news to consumers, it’s hurt hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) sales. In what appears to be an attempt to raise sales, automakers have lowered prices for hybrid and EVs.
For example, in October 2014, Ford lowered the price of their Focus Electric by $6,000. And in September, Toyota increased Prius incentives from $1,400 to $2,300.
If you're in the market for a “green” vehicle, then it may be a good time to buy while prices are low. CarInsuranceQuotes spoke to automotive experts to ask which hybrids and EVs under $27,000 they would recommend.
Hybrid cars under $27,000
2015 Toyota Prius C
MSRP: From $19,540
MPG: 53 city / 46 highway
Available seating: five
This is the entry-level model in the Prius line. At less than $20,000, this is one of the most affordable hybrids on the market today, with better fuel economy than many of its similar-priced rivals.
However, according to Edmunds.com, a website specializing in automotive information, "The driving experience is on the bland side, the ride quality can be overly stiff and the interior is very much no-frills."
2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid
MSRP: From $24,170
MPG: 42 city / 37 highway
Available seating: five
The 2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid offers a stylish and well-made interior, responsive handling and quick acceleration as well as impressive gas mileage.
However, the cargo area is small, and the optional electronic interface has been described as "difficult and complicated to use" by drivers.
While the C-Max fails to achieve the fuel economy of the Prius, the exterior and interior design give it a sportier look.
2015 Toyota Prius
MSRP: From $24,200
MPG: 51 city / 48 highway
Available seating: five
For the last six years, the third-generation Toyota Prius has been the most fuel-efficient hybrid on the market. And the 2015 Toyota Prius is no different.
The sixth model year of the popular third-generation hybrid remains largely unchanged -- but perhaps that's because Toyota doesn't want to fix what's not broken.
The iconic hatchback shape provides a specious interior that seats five with room leftover for cargo. However, slow acceleration and a noisy cabin are common complaints.
Electric vehicles under $27,000
2015 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
MSRP: From $22,995
Range: 62 miles battery-only
Available seating: four
The 2015 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is the most affordable electric car on the market. It can carry four adults, and critics say the small car is surprisingly fun to drive.
However, due to its slow 66-horsepower motor, the i-MiEV is perfect for short city commutes but is less suitable for long drives on the highway.
2015 Smart Fortwo (Electric)
MSRP: From $25,000
Range: 68 miles battery-only
Available seating: two
At slightly less than 9 feet long, this two-passenger electric car is appealing to anyone who lives or works in a big city where parking is hard to find.
However, the vehicle has received negative reviews from car critics, like Car and Driver who gave it a 1.5 out of 5-start rating. Two of the most common complaints include the limited driving range of 68 miles and the car’s poor handling.
2015 Chevrolet Spark EV
MSRP: From $26,820
Range: 82 miles battery-only
Available seating: 4
With just more than 80 miles per charge, the 2015 Chevrolet Spark outperforms both the i-MiEV and the Fortwo when it comes to range. It's also offers quicker acceleration and has more power.
One downside is that it takes a long time to charge the battery, about 7 hours for a full charge. The Spark is only available in California and Oregon.
Available tax credits and rebates for hybrid and electric vehicles
If you bought an electric vehicle in or after 2010, you may be eligible for a federal income tax credit, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
"These are federal income tax credits, and you have to have enough of an income tax bill in the year you acquire the car to collect the full credit," says John O'Dell, senior editor at Edmunds.
For example, if you buy an electric vehicle that qualifies for a $7,500 credit but you only have a $5,000 tax bill that year, you only get $5,000 credit. "The feds won't write you a check for any remaining credit, and won't let you carry any balance over to the next tax year," O'Dell says.
Conventional hybrids are no longer incentivized by the federal government.
State incentives vary by state. "Some, like California, offer cash rebates. Others, like Georgia, offer state tax credits," O'Dell says.
Some states also offer other nonfinancial advantages like the ability to use the carpool lane or get free parking.
For current listings about state incentives, visit the U.S. Department of Energy site.
How an electric/hybrid car impacts your car insurance rates
Some insurance companies, like Travelers, for example, offer hybrid and alternative fuel drivers a 10 percent discount.
But don’t expect “lower rates” to be the norm.
"Electric vehicles have expensive batteries and electronics on board, and that stuff is costly to repair or replace, so higher premiums aren't out of the question," O'Dell says.
Also, car insurance rates are based on many factors including your driving record, where you live and the value of your car.