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The Greenest Car May Not Be What You Expect

Posted in Car Buying, Environment, Fuel-efficient, News, Promoted by Kurt Ernst | February 17th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Every year the American Council For An Energy Efficient Economy releases a list of the twelve “greenest” vehicles of the current model year. Unlike other studies, which look at tailpipe emissions and fuel economy only, the ACEEE report examines a multitude of factors, including fuel economy, the energy impact of producing the vehicle, the environmental impact of creating or recycling vehicle components (including EV batteries) and upstream emissions produced by generating electricity for EV charging. With that in mind, their list for 2011 might surprise you, because it isn’t limited to EVs and plug-in hybrids. Read on to see what cars made the cut.

Honda Civic GX

Honda Civic GX
A compressed natural gas (CNG) powered version of the Honda Civic, the Civic GX is currently available in limited markets. National distribution is expected in 2012.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf
The first EV from a major manufacturer, the Leaf has already snapped up European Car of the Year honors and is in the running for World Car of the Year.

Smart Fortwo

Smart Fortwo Cabriolet
I’m only guessing here, but I assume the Smart made the list because of its 41 MPG highway fuel economy, environmentally friendly manufacturing and ease of recycling.

4. Toyota Prius

2011 Toyota Prius
You knew the poster child car of environmentalists would make the list; the only question was where.

5. Honda Civic Hybrid

Honda Civic Hybrid
Honda’s Civic Hybrid beat out their Prius rival, the Insight, by one spot on the list.

6. Honda Insight

Honda Insight
The Insight hasn’t been reviewed well by journalists or by potential buyers, but it’s green enough to make the midpoint of the ACEEE list.

7. Ford Fiesta SFE

Ford Fiesta SFE
Ford’s internal combustion engine Fiesta SFE comes in just past halfway down the list; worth noting is that the list includes the Fiesta with the “Super Fuel Economy” package only.

8. Chevy Cruze Eco

Chevy Cruze Eco
Like Ford’s Fiesta SFE, only the uber-fuel-efficient Cruze Eco makes the cut.

9. Hyundai Elantra

2011 Hyundai Elantra
Arguably the easiest car on the list to live with on a daily basis, Hyundai’s new Elantra gets a 40 MPG highway rating for all trim levels and transmission choices.

10. Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper
In terms of entertainment value, the Mini Cooper takes the win for the best handling car on the list. Sadly, the even-more-entertaining Cooper S doesn’t make the cut.

11. Toyota Yaris<./h3>
2011 Toyota Yaris
Wildly popular in Japan, the oddly styled Yaris doesn’t have the same following on this side of the Pacific.

12. Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevy Volt
Coming in last place, the pioneering Chevy Volt is still green enough to make the cut.

The absence of clean diesels surprised me, as did the omission of Ford’s Fusion Hybrid. Since the ACEEE list looks at so many different factors, I’d give this a little more credibility that other studies published to date. If you really want to save the planet with your choice of rides, these cars are your best option in 2011.

Source: New York Times Wheels

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