• Apr 7, 2009
With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, it's inevitable that automotive conversations will take on a green tinge. While hybrids are an obvious hot topic, it's not the only way to tread lightly on Mother Nature. NADAGuides.com have named what they think are the top five cleanest conventional vehicles, basing the scores on a combination of greenhouse gas emissions, pollution levels and fuel economy. Surprisingly or not, the list is primarily comprised of domestic vehicles. The press release is posted after the jump, and hit the gallery to see the results in order.

Batteries Not Included - NADAguides.com Announces the Top Five Cleanest Conventional Gasoline Cars for Earth Day 2009

-Top Five Vehicles that Save Consumers Money While Saving the Environment-

COSTA MESA, Calif., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- This Earth Day, NADAguides.com, the leading provider of pricing information and market research for new cars, used cars, classics, RVs, motorcycles and boats, announces its Top Five Cleanest Conventional Cars of 2009, simply suggesting that hybrids aren't the only choice for those who wish to minimize the environmental impact of their driving. NADAguides.com is a huge proponent of hybrid and alternative fuel technology, but given that the industry will be highlighting hybrids for Earth Day the company wanted to show that there are conventional vehicles that can help cut down on air pollution. To provide consumers with an alternative to alternative fuel vehicles, the NADAguides.com Market Data Analysts evaluated fuel economy and emissions data and determined that the Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, MINI Cooper, Pontiac G5 and Hyundai Elantra are the Top Five Cleanest Conventional Cars of 2009.

"It is no surprise that on Earth Day the automotive world will be focused on the latest and greatest hybrid vehicles, but the fact remains that consumers are still overwhelmingly buying and driving conventional gasoline cars," said Michael Caudill, spokesperson for NADAguides.com. "The Top Five Cleanest Conventional Cars show that consumers have options for vehicles that are easy on the environment without the higher price point of emerging hybrid technology."

Despite improvements in production efficiency and material costs, the prices of gas-electric hybrid vehicles remain considerably higher than those of their gasoline-only counterparts. The base price of the all-new 2010 Honda Insight, designed to rival the fuel economy of the Toyota Prius for about $2,000 less, is still expected to retail for nearly $2,000 more than the MINI Cooper, the most expensive car on the NADAguides.com top 5 list.

The Chevrolet Cobalt LS, Ford Focus S, Pontiac G5 and Hyundai Elantra GLS all qualify for PZEV (partial zero emissions vehicle) certification, while the MINI Cooper is designated as an ULEV (ultra low emissions vehicle). Several independent tests have shown that the exhaust coming from the tailpipe of a PZEV vehicle is often cleaner than the surrounding air in many metropolitan areas. In fact, four of the five cars on the list put out less air pollution than some hybrid vehicles.

NADAguides.com chose the Top Five Cleanest Conventional Cars based on a combination of scores from three criteria: Greenhouse gas emissions, smog-producing air pollution levels and combined miles per gallon.

 Vehicle    Combined MPG Greenhouse Gas Air Pollution Base
Emissions (pounds/year) MSRP
(tons/year)
2009 Pontiac G5 30 6.13 0.99 $16,980
2009 Chevy Cobalt LS 29 6.34 0.99 $15,660
2009 Hyundai Elantra GLS 28 6.57 0.99 $15,120
2009 Ford Focus S 28 6.57 0.99 $15,520
2009 MINI Cooper 32 5.75 4.13 $18,550

Greenhouse gas emissions include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane gas (CH4), nitrous oxide (NO2) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and represent vehicle combustion by-products that contribute to global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions are expressed in tons per year based on 15,000 miles of average driving. These figures are directly proportional to the vehicle's fuel economy and type of fuel used.

Smog-forming air pollution includes nitrogen oxides (NOX), carbon monoxide (CO), various carbon-containing compounds (including hydrocarbons), formaldehyde (HCHO) and solid particulate matter. These compounds, which contribute to smog and other health problems, are measured in pounds emitted per year based on 15,000 miles of average driving.

Combined fuel economy is calculated from EPA city/highway miles per gallon figures, based on 55 percent city and 45 percent highway driving.

NADA Appraisal Guides (NADAguides.com) is the world's largest publisher of vehicle pricing and specification information for new and used cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs, as well as van conversions, limousines, classic and collectible cars, boats, RVs, motorcycles, vintage motorcycles, snowmobiles, personal watercraft and manufactured housing. The company's consumer website, NADAguides.com (http://www.nadaguides.com/), offers a variety of new and used vehicle services in addition to valuation information. Throughout its 76-year history, NADA Appraisal Guides has earned the reputation as the recognized authority for vehicle valuations. Its website, NADAguides.com, is the most comprehensive vehicle information resource on the Internet today.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Funny thought Amercan car companies only made gas guzzlers that destroy the environment?

      LOL all the eco weenies and Japanese car lovers(maybe they are one and the same) will be whining like the little babies they are.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And of course this is an unbiased study eh?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Umm... this is coming from the same people that dealers use to figure out trade-in value (National Automobile Dealers Association). Don't know where the bias would be...
        • 5 Years Ago
        NADA is rarely used for trade-ins, mostly its for financing with banks for used vehicles. Galves is the wholesale book used for trade-ins.
      • 5 Years Ago
      really? even with modern particulate filers, low sulphur diesel n suchlike? Even discounting the mini d i'm surprised that the copper gets on a list of clean cars ahead of the mini one.

      should really have read the bit about conventional gasoline in the title though, should discount the diesels pretty quick!
        • 5 Years Ago
        that explains that one then, thanks!
        • 5 Years Ago
        No Mini Ones or D's in the states...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not exactly scientific unless the specs of the Cobalt coupe (/G5) really differ from the LS, eh.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Cobalt LS may be the sedan since the G5 is coupe only... Just a thought, probably not the reason, but maybe...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just a general comment, but why can't manufacturers offer an engine shutoff mechanism for fairly new vehicles? Wouldn't stopping the engine when the car is at a stoplight help pollution in urban areas? Aren't there simple gas-saving and pollution-reducing things like this that we can do to current vehicles, rather than create an entirely new set of "hybrid" vehicles that the majority of people aren't even willing to buy?

      And why does the new Insight look just as ugly as the Prius? Why can't there be hybrid mechanicals AND good design in a reasonably priced gas-electric vehicle? (Volt doesn't count since it's going to be more than $40k equipped.)

      Oy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No, auto start stop does not stink. It works very well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's an engine shutoff control right there on the steering column.

        Automatic stop-start stinks. No one wants to wait 3/4 of a second after they press the gas before they start moving.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Why can't there be hybrid mechanicals AND good design in a reasonably priced gas-electric vehicle?"

        The Civic Hybrid?

        It didn't really sell because people who owns hybrids wants to be like "OMG I HAVE A HYBRID I AM SO GREEN" and not just another Civic on the street.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Are you sure this wasn't the top five most boring cars?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice background on the pic of the G5.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just curious, how did the Honda Civic not make it up there? I'd like to see the runners up. I can't imagine some of those cars honestly getting better MPG than the Camry/Civic.

      I know that greenest may not be solely based on MPG but honestly... Cobalt LS is greener than the super economy cars? Come on, I want to see some harder hitting numbers and stats before I believe that.

      I drive a Civic Si and while I don't expect to be listed with the 2.0 i-VTEC motor, I know for a fact that I can get 40mpg with the top trim (read: least green) model Civic if I were to try, the other Civics (EXLX) don't even HAVE to try to reach those numbers I bet and they're working with a 1.7L motor.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Exactly how is stop/start cleaner?

      To start the engine, it takes more fuel than to idle an engine, and way more fuel than to coast an engine.

      This greenie stuff is really getting tedious. Honestly, it is wearying.

      Just sell a good car, really, does it need to be more complicated and convoluted than that?

      When they can build cars that do well what CARS are supposed to do well, then maybe they can figure out how to make them even "better".
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think that Mazda's new start/stop system gets rid of these problems, since it uses direct injection and stops the cylinders at a specific location, it knows exactly how much it needs to get things moving.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The figure I heard is idling for a minute is the same as turning the engine on about 3 times. Gonna idle for more than half a minute? Probably worth it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love how when the (a) domestic car makers get an accolade, no matter how tiny, the haters come out and destroy the story, "oh but the car is ubly", and what not. Really? this is quite the comedy show.
        • 5 Years Ago
        but that is not even valid to the meat of the story. This is not about how exciting the car is , but green non hybrids. Period.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, absolutely not. I wasn't saying it was relevant.

        But it is ugly.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, it is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      smart fortwo slip your mind ? (cleaner than every car your "expert" posted)
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's fuel efficient, but its smog forming emissions aren't very good.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not that it was the highest thing on my list of priorities, but when we were cross-shopping the Focus with its import competition, the fact that its emissions are squeaky clean didn't hurt its case. It's a hard conversation to have with most customers though, as they aren't terribly interested in the difference between different types of pollution, and assume that fuel efficiency always equals low pollution (they correlate strongly, but not 1:1).
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have lots to disagree on... but let's not start a flame war. But seriously, the list. Sigh.
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