A Chevy Volt paused in front of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776.

A Chevy Volt paused in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776.

Happy Independence Day America!

Now, how would you like freedom from petroleum dependence, less concern about geopolitical instability, while enjoying positive environmental and economic effects that could follow?

For four decades since a wake-up call known as the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, we’ve been chasing an elusive goal called “energy independence.”

Some who point to now-accessible petroleum and natural gas via fracking and horizontal drilling have already declared energy independence, saying America is on its way to becoming self sufficient.

Be this as it may, that energy is not without environmental consequences, and we still spend close to $1 billion per day importing 40 percent our oil – around the 35 percent we did in 1973 when OPEC punished the U.S. for its support of the Yom Kippur War.

Today, nearly 70 percent of petroleum in the U.S. is used for transportation, and of this 65 percent is for our personal vehicles.

Without wading into a morass of political, economic, and technological discussion, we’ll declare a simple truism: Using less oil means we’d need less.

This sentiment has been widely shared, including by Nobel physicist and former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

“The most direct way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil is to simply use less of it, starting with the cars and trucks we drive,” he said. “Energy independence means changing how we power our cars and trucks from foreign oil to new American-made fuels and batteries.”

SEE ALSO: Is Electricity a Clean Energy Source?

To highlight some of the best antidotes for an America “addicted to oil” as former President G.W Bush once ironically said, we’ve compiled a top-7 list of cars.

These are ranked as those which most contribute or stand to contribute – without detracting from quality of life or personal mobility.

Most are either produced by U.S. automakers, or produced in the U.S., adding to their independence quotient, if you will.

As of 2014, the average new car gets around 23 mpg combined, and federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets ramping up through 2025 set a bar of close to 45 mpg for the average car and 32 mpg for the average truck.

The cars on our list would all pass that 2025 level today, and if everyone who could in America were to switch to these, do you think we’d be as worried about what is happening in the Middle East? And, how could they contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions?

Granted sales for most of them are still a drop in the bucket against the overall market, so consider this as forward looking, with vehicles considered for their outsized potential influence today and in years to come.