The Greenest Cars on Earth

2013-03-06T00:00:00Z The Greenest Cars on EarthBy Jim Gorzelany CTW Features nwitimes.com
March 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Save gas and help protect the environment by choosing any of the models deemed as being the most eco-friendly for 2013.

One fortunate byproduct of shopping for a more environmentally friendly vehicle is that it saves gas in the process (if it uses any gas at all, in the case of an electric car). And even those who are not particularly altruistic otherwise can appreciate saving money at the pump as skyrocketing sales of fuel-efficient small cars and more-frugal hybrids can attest.

With combined sales among its four model variations registering 236,659 units last year, the venerable Toyota Prius was not only the most-popular hybrid car in the U.S., but it was also the 13th best-selling vehicle overall, and on its own, outsold many entire car brands, including the automaker’s own Lexus luxury division.

With additional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric cars reaching dealers’ showrooms in 2013, conventionally powered models were all but pushed off this year’s list of greenest vehicles as determined by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Washington, D.C.

Sitting atop the Council’s “Greenest Car” list for 2013 is the subcompact Toyota Prius c hybrid, which received an industry-leading Green Score of 58. The Smart ForTwo and Scion iQ, both of which are tiny microcars with limited utility, were the only conventionally powered cars among the ACEEE’s top picks. By comparison, many of the hybrid and plug-in models making the Greenest Car list this year are practical enough to be everyday drivers, including two family friendly station wagons, the Toyota Prius v and Ford C-Max Hybrid.

“The vehicles at the top of this year’s rankings are proof that automakers are really ramping up their offerings,” says Shruti Vaidyanathan, ACEEE lead vehicle analyst. “There are more hybrid and electric options on the market this year than ever before and the race for a spot on the Greenest Car list is increasingly competitive.”

Meanwhile, the list of “meanest” vehicles for 2013 were well populated with fuel-swilling full-size trucks, including the Ford F-350 heavy-duty pickup with a rock-bottom Green Score of just 17, along with the Chevrolet Suburban and Yukon XL SUVs, as well as ultra-pricey exotic cars like the Bugatti Veyron and Bentley Mulsanne.

The ACEEE determines its Green Score rankings according to combination of factors that primarily takes into account a vehicle’s fuel economy and it’s tailpipe emissions. The latter include health-damaging and smog-forming airborne pollutants like hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, as well as greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and other compounds. What’s more, the Green Scores also consider such factors as emissions estimates for a vehicle’s manufacturing process, disposal impact and (where applicable) natural gas extraction practices and the sources of energy used to generate power for electric cars.

The ACEEE also identifies widely available – and in many cases, more affordable – “greener” choices among all conventionally powered model categories. Such models for 2013 include the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox and Spark, Honda Fit and Odyssey and the Toyota Tacoma. For further details, consult the Council’s website at greenercars.org.

© CTW Features

The Greenest 2013 Cars

Make/Model MPG Green Score

Toyota Prius c 53/46 58

Honda Fit 132/105* 57

Toyota Prius 51/48 55

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid 95** 55

Honda Civic Hybrid 44/44 55

Honda Insight 41/44 54

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 42/48 53

Mercedes-Benz Smart Fortwo 34/38 53

Scion iQ 36/37 53

Ford Focus Electric 110/99* 52

Toyota Prius V 44/40 52

Ford Fusion Hybrid 47/47 51

C-Max Hybrid 47/47 51

* Electric equivalent; ** combined gas/electricity rating.

Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

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