Green or Mean? Study Helps Shoppers Decide

Latest ACEEE guide helps car buyers pick green vehicles.

by on Feb.01, 2018

The BEV, plug-in and hydrogen versions of the Honda Clarity - named Green Car of the Year last November.

In recent months, it seems just about every automaker – from mainstream brands like General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen to high-line marques such as Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz and Bentley – have announced plans to roll out what will be hundreds of new hybrids, plug-ins, pure battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

We can expect to see a wave of these green machines starting to flood the market by the beginning of the coming decade. But what if you’re in the market today and looking for something environmentally friendly? What are the market’s greenest – and meanest – models you can buy right now?

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The good news is that you have plenty of options, and some of them might come as a surprise, such as the Hyundai Ioniq which tops this year’s annual GreenerCars report.

“Automakers have brought an impressive number of highly efficient vehicles to market, giving American consumers more choices, whether they are looking for a compact car or a fully-loaded pickup,” said Eric Junga, head of transportation analysis with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE.

(Study sees California hitting 1.5 million ZEV target by 2025. Click Here for the story.)

Hyundai's new Ioniq tops this year's greener car list, according to ACEEE.

And with more and more battery-based models – from conventional hybrids to pure electric – come to market, Junga added, “sales are really picking up steam.”

Indeed, after slipping for several years in the face of declining gasoline prices, sales of plug-based models, in particular, regained momentum in 2017. And not only in the U.S., demand worldwide topping the 1 million mark for the first time.

The ACEEE gave its “Greenest” rating to a dozen different models, all them relying on some form of battery propulsion. Here are the dozen leaders:

  1. Hyundai Ioniq Electric
  2. Mercedes-Benz Smart Fortwo Electric Drive
  3. BMW i3 BEV (94 Ah)
  4. Tesla Model 3 Long Range
  5. Kia Soul Electric
  6. Chevrolet Bolt EV
  7. Hyundai Ioniq Blue
  8. Toyota Prius Eco
  9. Ford Focus Electric
  10. Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid
  11. Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid
  12. Chevrolet Volt

Toyota was the earlier leader in electrification with the Prius model.

It should be noted that there is a new trend in the market, and a number of the top 12 are available in different configurations. The Ioniq, for example, can be ordered as a hybrid, plug-in or pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV. The Honda Clarity is available as a fuel-cell vehicle, all-electric or plug-in. The Prius family includes hybrids small, medium and large, as well as a plug-in version of the familiar hatchback model.

(Click Here to see how much new vehicle sales are expected to drop in January.)

Another dozen models rated “Greener,” according to the ACEEE. The list includes both conventional hybrids and even gas models, as well as the diesel versions of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups. This group excludes vehicles using plug-power, however, including both plug-in hybrids and BEVs.

  1. Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
  2. Kia Niro FE
  3. Toyota Prius C
  4. Ford C-Max Hybrid
  5. Toyota Yaris iA
  6. Nissan Rogue Hybrid
  7. Honda CR-V
  8. Mercedes-Benz GLA250
  9. Lexus RX 450h
  10. Chevrolet Colorado/GMC 
Canyon Diesel
  11. Ford F-150 Base Payload
  12. Chrysler Pacifica

The ACEEE also thumbs its nose at vehicles that might best be described as “Meanest,” at least from an environmental standpoint. Here’s the dozen of the lowest-ranked models, heavily laden with big SUVs and pickups:

  1. Mercedes-Benz G550
  2. Mercedes-Benz AMG G65
  3. Mercedes-Benz AMG G63
  4. Jeep Grand Cherokee TrackHawk 4×4
  5. Toyota Sequoia FFV
  6. Toyota Tundra FFV
  7. Ram 1500
  8. Lexus LX 570
  9. Nissan Armada
  10. Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS63
  11. Toyota Land Cruiser Wagon
  12. Dodge Durango SRT

(To see why more Americans are willing to trust autonomous vehicles, Click Here.)

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