No matter how you slice it, the Toyota Prius and the Smart ForTwo are two of the "cheapest" cars to own. The Automotive Science Group (ASG), in its first-ever survey measuring a car's economic, environmental and social costs, put both the Prius and the ForTwo atop two of its nine vehicle classes, marking the only repeat leaders among the approximately 1,400 model-year 2013 vehicles surveyed.

The ForTwo Coupe and ForTwo Passion cabriolet topped the coupe and convertible sectors, while the Prius C and standard Prius ranked first in the compact and mid-size segments (for good measure, the Prius Plug-in came in at No. 2 for mid-size). Filling out the top of ASG's lists, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid won the full-size category; the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport topped the crossovers; the Mazda CX-5 led all mid-sized SUVs; the Honda Pilot was the "cheapest" full-size SUV; and, finally, the Nissan Quest won the minivan category.

ASG went beyond mere economic factors like price and cost of ownership by calculating in environmental measurements such as the raw materials required to make the vehicle; then, ASG attempted to calculate in a social element, somehow taking a factor such as the civil rights of the people making the vehicle and calculating that aspect into the total "cost." You can read more in ASG's press release below.
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First-Ever Life-cycle Assessment Across a Model Year

12 JUNE 2013 – The Automotive Science Group (ASG) conducted a rigorous life-cycle assessment of over 1,400 models across nine vehicle categories, with consideration for Social, Environmental and Economic Performance factors. This first-ever comprehensive life-cycle assessment across an entire model year for the U.S. market compares conventional and alternatively powered vehicles on the same platform, and offers consumers an unbiased view of the BEST vehicles available in market. Today, ASG is proud to announce the "BEST 5" All-Around Performance honors, and ASG's top overall selections for model year 2013.

ASG's data-driven analysis ensures each vehicle stands-up on its own detailed specifications, without being influenced by any branding efforts. Such methodology removes brand expectations and subjective opinion from the assessment, and offers a unique, unbiased perspective. As such, the consumer is now equipped with a new set of tools to better differentiate the BEST vehicles from more mainstream offerings.

"We believe our BEST 5 All-Around Performance list is the market differentiator for today's hyper-competitive automotive marketplace," says Colby Self, Principal of the Automotive Science Group. "Based on the principles of ecological economics, we have developed a comparative automotive assessment that recognizes corporate social responsibility efforts that ultimately lead to the best end-products for the market while remaining financially relevant to the average consumer."

The BEST 5 All-Around Performance honorees have the best combined Social, Environmental and Economic Performance in class with the following considerations: 1) Social Performance assessment ensures the highest level of protection for the rights of those tasked with vehicle manufacture and assembly; 2) Environmental Performance assessment ensures the highest level of protection for the environment throughout life-cycle, from raw material acquisition through vehicle end-of-life disposal and recovery; and 3) Economic Performance assessment ensures the lowest cost of ownership, accounting for life-cycle carrying and operating costs.


1. Smart fortwo Coupe [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Honda CR-Z Coupe
3. Hyundai Elantra Coupe
4. Mini Cooper Coupe
5. Honda Civic Coupe

1. Toyota Prius C [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Honda Insight
3. Scion iQ
4. Chevrolet Spark
5. Honda Civic Hybrid

1. Smart fortwo Passion Cabriolet [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Mini Cooper Convertible
3. Mini Cooper Roadster
4. Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible
5. VW Beetle Convertible

1. Toyota Prius [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
3. Nissan Leaf
4. Toyota Prius V
5. Nissan Sentra

1. Toyota Avalon Hybrid [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Buick LaCrosse
3. Ford Taurus
4. Toyota Avalon
5. BMW 5 Series 528i

1. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Toyota Rav4
3. Hyundai Tucson
4. Nissan Rogue
5. Buick Encore

1. Mazda CX-5 [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Kia Sorento
3. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
4. Mitsubishi Outlander
5. Lexus RX 450h

1. Honda Pilot [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Mazda CX-9
3. Infiniti JX35
4. Audi Q7 TDI
5. Audi Q7

1. Nissan Quest [Best All-Around Performance Award Winner]
2. Honda Odyssey
3. Ford Flex
4. Toyota Sienna
5. Dodge Grand Caravan

The Automotive Science Group (ASG) is the automotive research arm of, a product rating website for consumer durable goods founded in 2009. The scientific principles of ecological economics, where social, environmental and economic considerations are all equally important in determining overall value, have been the focus of ASG and's product analysis. To this end, both groups are supported in their environmental analysis by Seattle-based environmental policy consulting firm, Eco-innovations.

To learn more about the Automotive Science Group please visit

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