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.