Green Car Journal Announces Finalists For Green SUV Of The Year – No Plug-Ins Make The Cut

DEC 30 2015 BY MARK KANE 28

BMW x5 xDrive40e - First Deliveries Started Just This Past October

BMW x5 xDrive40e

Green Car Journal selected five finalists for the prestigious 2016 Green SUV of the Year. The winner will be announced at the Washington Auto Show on January 21.

Of interest to us is that the Tesla Model X, BMW x5 xDrive40e, Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid and Volvo XC90 T8 are not even considered among the Top 5 best green SUVs.

Instead we see:

  • BMW X1 xDrive28i
  • Honda HR-V
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Mazda CX-3
  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Hyundai Tucson in conventional version (not hydrogen fuel cell), so we see nothing even remotely green on this list.

Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and said:

“After years of focus on building more efficient and environmentally positive sedans and hatchbacks, a growing emphasis is now being placed on SUVs and crossover vehicles, one of the hottest segments in the auto market. The Green SUV of the Year™ award recognizes this achievement.”

Why skip plug-ins?   It seems almost comical for them to be left out completely.  Or perhaps maybe it’s just case of late year/limited availability?  It doesn’t make sense to us.

With Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV joining the Tesla Model X, BMW x5 xDrive40e and Volvo XC90 T8 next year, this should be last such non-plug-in Green SUV of the Year contest. We hope…

The all-new Volvo XC90

The all-new Volvo XC90

The Finalists:

The all-new, second generation BMW X1 xDrive28i is a premium compact crossover featuring new powertrain and chassis technology that promises the driving experience expected of a BMW. Power is delivered by a 228 horsepower, 2.0-liter EfficientDynamics engine and 8-speed automatic transmission, providing the X1 xDrive28i an EPA estimated 32 highway mpg.

Honda’s new HR-V crossover blends the functionality of an SUV with the sporty styling of a coupe. Built on the Fit platform but with a longer wheelbase and larger exterior dimensions, it’s powered by a 141 horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine offering up to 35 highway mpg. Like the Fit, it features Honda’s fold-flat second row “Magic Seat’ for interior versatility.

The stylish new Hyundai Tucson is longer, wider, and offers greater interior volume than the model that preceded it, yet it also achieves better fuel efficiency. It’s powered by either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a new turbocharged 1.6-liter four, with the latter producing 175 horsepower and achieving up to 33 highway mpg in the Tucson Eco model.

Mazda’s all-new CX-3 crossover features smart styling and benefits from this automaker’s full range of efficiency-focused SKYACTIV technologies. It’s available in both front- and all-wheel drive. The CX-3 is comfortable, capable, and responsive, getting its power from a 146 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that achieves up to 35 highway mpg.

The Toyota RAV4 expands its offerings this year with a new all-wheel drive hybrid model. It’s powered by a 154 horsepower, 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with electric motors front and rear. This combination provides more power than the standard RAV4 plus increased efficiency, with EPA estimates of 34/31 city/highway mpg and 33 mpg combined.”

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28 Comments on "Green Car Journal Announces Finalists For Green SUV Of The Year – No Plug-Ins Make The Cut"

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What a joke. ICE SUVs can never be “green”.

No kind of SUV can ever be “green”. They will always be less efficient than an equivalent car (or even minivan) due to high weight and bad aerodynamics, regardless of the drive train. It’s just physics. The best way to make SUVs “green” is not to buy them unless you really have a need. Unfortunately most of them are driven by soccer moms and dads and never even see a dirt road.

@braben…plenty of people (including soccer moms) have perfectly good reasons for driving SUV’s. Why the negativity? Tesla, BMW, Mitsubishi, Volvo and others are doing something to address your environmental concerns. Why not applaud their efforts?

Because outside of someone who needs to do serious towing or off roading (almost no one) everyone(including soccer moms) are better served by more efficient Minivans.

The vast majority of SUVs are used just like Minivans but people buy less efficient SUVs because they think it makes them look less parental. And therefore cool.

More efficient minivans? Minivans are gas hogs compared to these SUVs.

Minivans get at best 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined, while the five SUV finalists for the award get the following city/highway/combined mileage:

BMW X1 xDrive28i – 22/32/26 mpg
Honda HR-V – 28/35/31 mpg
Hyundai Tucson – 26/33/29 mpg
Mazda CX-3 – 29/35/31 mpg
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – 34/31/33 mpg

sven, thanks for taking the time to find the figures to back up what common sense indicates.

You should compare apples to apples. The SUVs on the list are really crossovers that have nowhere near the space of a typical minivan. They should be compared to cars like the wagons that are popular in Europe or the Prius V (which gets 40/44 MPG).

If you honestly think this isn’t a fair comparison, if you’re suggesting sven has cherry-picked his vehicles, then post some figures comparing the cargo capacity of popular minivans vs. SUVs.

It would have to be a pretty small minivan and a pretty large SUV for the minivan to not have significantly more cargo space than the SUV. We could carry an uncut 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood in our Town & Country minvan, with the hatch closed, flat on the floor, and without having to shove the front seats all the way forward. Could you do that in an SUV? Any unmodified production SUV? I don’t think so!

Robb Stark said: “Because outside of someone who needs to do serious towing or off roading (almost no one) everyone(including soccer moms) are better served by more efficient Minivans.” This is a perfect example illustrating that the argument over whether or not something is “green” is merely a matter of opinion, not fact. I’m sure that a plug-in EV SUV would be a lot more “green”, and a lot more energy-efficient, than even the highest-MPG minivan, so long as most of its miles were driven within its electric range. And someone who uses mass transportation to commute to work, or bicycles, is going to laugh pretty hard at a claim that a minivan, even an EV minivan, could be “green”! What I find really annoying are the assertions that no auto maker should offer an SUV EV, CUV EV, or minivan EV. The fact is that many car buyers simply won’t buy anything outside the categories of SUV, CUV, or minivan. For those buyers, it’s better for Planet Earth — or “greener” — to offer a BEV, or at least a long-range PHEV*. Refusing to offer those won’t pressure such car buyers into buying a smaller EV. It will merely… Read more »

No car could ever be green. You could use an electric moped.

Well, no moped could ever be green. A bicycle is so much better.

A bicycle can not be green when you can walk.

A regular human can never be green, we eat meat, live in houses and own other stuff. So we should rather erase humans from this planet.
Preferable dropping dead in a manner that we become fossil fuels one day instead of decomposing. 🙂

There is always a better alternative, but an electric SUV running on non-fossil energy is better than most.

Your comparisons are nonsense. An SUV has no advantage over a car or minivan for the vast majority of SUV buyers who never drive where an SUV is required. They are only successful due to a carefully constructed marketing image that transforms dad into the Marlboro man (in his imagination).

The industry would do more for the environment if they stopped pushing these inefficient behemoths. The fact is that over the last decade most of the gains in drive train efficiency were pissed away due to the increasing market share of heavy and bulky SUVs.


“An SUV has no advantage over a car or minivan for the vast majority of SUV buyers…”

So what? Surely you’re not claiming that a minivan is more energy-efficient than an SUV! Both of them are about equally far away from being “green” as compared to a typical mid-sized hatchback or sedan.


Bravo! You made the point much better than I did, sir.

Hey InsideEVs! It’s obvious that the “Green Car Journal” doesn’t know what they’re talking about. How about we NOT give them coverage? Skip “news” from them all together.


“Green” Car Journal is a total joke. Completely a marketing tool for automakers to use as they see fit. They could care less about the environment, technology, or customers. This is just the latest absurd example of many.


If the word “Green” wasn’t part of the group’s name, would this even be covered?

Blatant attempts at greenwashing would best be ignored by a blog named InsideEVs.

Hear, hear!

This is a total nonsense!!

Calling cars “green” is misleading propaganda, like the term sustainable development.

Kind of like vegan cannibals. 🙂

I think any nonsense or lie that concerns the amount of emission of greenhouse gasses should be concidered a crime punishable by huge fines or a prison sentence. This is misinformation of the public on the worst level and should not be allowed. With worst level I mean the level that kills human beings all around us. Maniacs.

Must be Big-Oil funded when saying “environmentally positive” cars!


Please rename this farce to: “Best Of The Oil Burning Sport Utility Vehicles Award.” It would be far more accurate then.

Oh dear, is the green car of the year award drifting towards the edge of legality? They have certainly blown past realiety

Among the criteria considered for the award are the accessibility/affordability of the vehicle. All of the current plug-in SUVs on the market are costly premium/luxury models. It’s as simple as that.

No conspiracy required.

It simply makes no sense to have a category called “Green SUV Of The Year” and disqualify all the cars which are actually the most energy-efficient and generate the least overall well-to-wheel pollution and CO2.

Whether or not that is a “conspiracy” is merely a semantic argument over the meaning of the word “conspiracy”. It’s not relevant to the subject of this article, nor to whether the “Green Car Journal” is a genuine pro-green periodical, or just a greenwashing rag for Big Oil propaganda.

It’s their award. They can set the criteria any way they want. For this particular award, they typically include only vehicles at a mass market price since those have the potential to have the largest cumulative impact.

They have two other awards which do include plug-ins among the nominees:

2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year: BMW X5 xDrive40e, Lexus RX 450h, Mercedes-Benz C350e, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV.

2016 Connected Green Car of the Year award: Audi A3 e-tron, BMW 330e, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Toyota Prius, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV.

Green car journal is full of crap