And The 12 Greenest Cars On The Road Today Are…
They’re all hybrids or EVs, of course. And, no, a Tesla is not among them.
Sure, gas remains relatively cheap. Even though many Americans have been trading in their fuel-sipping small cars for larger crossover SUVs and pickup trucks these days, there remains a core group of motorists who shop for a vehicle specifically with Mother Nature in mind. To that end, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) compiles an annual list of what it considers the “greenest” cars of the year.
While the most environmentally friendly vehicles also tend to be among the most fuel-efficient models in dealers’ showrooms, the ACEEE’s ratings are based on more than just the amount of fuel a given vehicle consumes and the estimated volume of its tailpipe emissions. They take a “cradle to grave” approach that further considers a car’s overall impact on the environment, including a vehicle’s manufacturing process, disposal impact and (where applicable) the sources of energy used to generate power for electric vehicles, with states that rely heavily on coal-based plants faring the worst in this regard.
For 2017, all 12 of vehicles on the council’s list are electrified autos, being either gas-electric hybrids or full EVs, with Toyota leading all automakers by placing three models among the “cleanest dozen.”
Eight plug-in models dominate the list, with seven of those occupying spots in the top 8 (see below).
The new Hyundai Ioniq Electric beats all comers with a record-high “Green Score” of 64, and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.78 (higher numbers are better with the former and lower numbers are better with the latter). It’s rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the electric equivalent of 150/122 miles per gallon, city/highway. The highest-rated gasoline-only model is the otherwise under-achieving Mitsubishi Mirage, at 37/43 mpg city/highway, which just misses making the top-12 list with a Green Score of 58.
And which, you may ask, are the “meanest” rides on the road? Aside from a pair of posh and powerful Bentleys (the Mulsanne and Continental GT) the worst offenders are a bunch of big and powerful vans and truck-based SUVs, with the most deleterious of the bunch being the overpowered militaristic Mercedes AMG G65 SUV (one of three G-Class models among the 12 worst offenders) with a Green Score of 21 and an Environmental Damage Index of 3.02. And that’s on top of paltry fuel economy at just 11 mpg in the city.
Green Scores for all 2017 vehicles are available via the Greenercars.org database, which further includes information on each model’s fuel economy, health-related pollution impacts and greenhouse gas emissions.
12. Kia Niro FE
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy gives the hybrid-powered version of Kia’s new-for-2017 compact wagon a Green Score of 58 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.98; it’s EPA rated at 52/49 mpg city/highway.
11. Honda Accord Hybrid
The gas/electric-powered hybrid version of Honda’s handsome and roomy midsize sedan gets a Green Score of 58 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.98; it’s EPA rated at 49/47 mpg.
10. Ford Focus Electric
Ford’s compact EV gets a Green Score of 58 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.98. It has an average operating range of 115 miles on a charge and is EPA rated at the electric equivalent of 118/96 mpg.
9. Toyota Prius C
The compact Prius c hybrid gets a Green Score of 58 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.97. It’s EPA rated at 48/43 mpg.
8. Toyota Prius Prime
Redesigned and renamed for 2017, Toyota’s plug-in hybrid has a Green Score of 59 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.95. It’s estimated to run for the first 25 miles solely on battery power when it gets the electric equivalent of 133 mpg, after which it runs as a conventional hybrid and is rated at 54 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
7. Kia Soul EV
The full EV edition of Kia’s compact Soul has a Green Score of 59 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.94; it features an average operating range of 93 miles on a charge and is EPA rated at the electric equivalent of 120/92 mpg. Unfortunately, it’s only sold in 10 states (California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington).
6. Chevrolet Bolt EV
New for 2017, Chevy’s Bolt is the most amenable EVs this side of a Tesla Model S, with an average operating range of 238 miles on a charge. It gets a Green Score of 59 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.93; it’s EPA rated at the electric equivalent of 128/110 mpg.
5. Nissan Leaf
With an average operating range of 107 miles on a charge, the bulbous-looking Leaf receives a Green Score of 60 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.91; it’s EPA rated at the electric equivalent of 124/101 mpg.
4. Fiat 500E
Sold only in California and Oregon, the EV version of Fiat’s perky subcompact coupe can go for an average 84 miles on a full charge. It gets a Green Score of 62 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.86, with an EPA rating at the electric equivalent of 121/103 mpg.
3. Toyota Prius Eco
The most fuel-frugal non-plug-in version of Toyota’s Prius hybrid has a Green Score of 62 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.85. It’s EPA rated at 58/53 mpg.
2. BMW i3
BMW’s funky and fun to drive compact EV has a Green Score of 64 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.80. It has an average operating range of 81 miles on a charge with the standard 60 amp-hour battery pack, and is EPA rated at the electric equivalent of 137/111 mpg.
1. Hyundai Ioniq Electric
New for 2017, the full EV version of the Hyundai Ioniq is the greenest car sold in the U.S. according to the ACEEE, with a Green Score of 64 and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.78. It has an average operating range of 124 miles on a charge and is EPA rated at the electric equivalent of 150/122 mpg.
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