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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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      These studies are intriguing b/c manufacturers are always looking for differentiating accolades. This study, though, makes me a bit uneasy b/c the organization invokes the name of science to create the appearance of factual objectivity in a highly subjective study. The trajectory of these studies is a bit unnerving as well. Since CNW Marketing Research revealed many of the difficulties associated with building clean, green vehicles in a dirty, inefficient industry, each subsequent study has sought simply to promote the zeitgeist of automotive trends and regulation.
        • 2 Years Ago
        CNW Marketing Research didn't reveal anything, they just did a crappy report and their reputation is irretrievably damaged no matter how much they admit they were wrong. You're right this survey sounds unscientific. Making cars is a dirty inefficient industry, but a car weighs 1.5 -2 tons and is recyclable. Meanwhile a 35mpg car burns 10 tons of fuel over 120,000 miles, made by a far dirtier industry and it all goes up in smoke . It's not rocket science; more fuel efficient cars are a win for the environment.
      • 2 Years Ago
      To all those who think the Prius (or any ethanol fueled vehicle for that matter) is a "green" choice please do some research. EV is the only real choice for alternative fuel vehicles. At least for now.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Not so here in Ohio, where most of our electricity comes from coal plants. Gas engines are still cleaner.
      • 2 Years Ago
      But who wants to drive around in a Toyyoyo?
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've owned a gen3 Prius for more than 4 years now. I expected the traditional costs of ownership to be low, and I have not been disappointed. In normal driving it easily gets 50mpg tank after tank. If weather, traffic, and driving condition are very good it is easy to get over 60mpg for an entire tank. I've even had two consecutive full tanks that measured just short of 70mpg. Maintenance is also very low. Oil changes every 10k miles, and very little else. Several cost items did surprise me. Insurance has been lower than expected. My wife had a 2008 G6. Predictably maintenance and reliability of the G6 were much worse, but insurance cost where also higher for her car even though it was older and had a much lower value(new MSRP was about the same). When both cars where hit by hail park side by side, the damage to the G6 were higher. Surprising since the Prius hood is aluminum. Depreciation is likely the area where the cost of ownership for the Prius is far better than almost every other car. At 2 years and 20k mi KBB put the retail value of my Prius at above the purchase price I paid for the car. Just recently when we replace the G6 I saw a 2010 Prius on a dealer lot with more than 80k mi. The asking price was well over $18k. That is better than 75% of the MSRP for that car. The G6 fell by half with many less miles. The Prius has been a much nicer car to live with in every way. I doubt the Smart has resale anywhere near the Prius. In total cost of ownership the Prius is just about impossible to beat.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Just be sure to sell the Prius before 7 years because no one is going to buy your car knowing they will have to mortage their house to pay for new batteries.. After owning a Prius for 7 + years the G-6 or any other gasoline powered car will seem like a bargain.
          • 2 Years Ago
          Oh shut up.
          • 2 Years Ago
          Check Ebay--the most expensive Prius battery listed is $3,600. The ones new from the dealer are about 5K. The junkyard is cheaper. That's hardly an amount required to mortgage your house.
      SCOTT !!!!!!!!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah and MOST people can't fit in either of these cars. Or, They are usful for anything.
      • 2 Years Ago
      As much as I'd like to take the environment into consideration when I buy a new car, my bottom line is how much I can afford to pay for a) the car itself and b) gas. When comparing the Chevy Spark to the Prius, the overall cost for the car + 5 years' worth of gas (I don't drive much) would be $19,570; for the Prius it would be $29,380. Now it will come down to things like comfort and resale value. The Prius may yet still win.
        • 2 Years Ago
        I purchased my Prius for $22,600 brand new, below MSRP. You have to do your research before you buy. Of course, to each his own, but I think I get more car for my money in terms of options, and any Toyota is way better than Chevy in terms of depriciation and quality.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      "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." " Congratulations autobloggreen, you have successfully made me hurl. Excellent troll job, this tops the years of posting pike research fluff almost every day.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        So you lose a few points in their study if you outsource some of your parts to China and the factory workers are hurling themselves off the roof in protest of the working conditions. "Sir. The working conditions are terrible. I feel like killing myself. Help me." "I'm so sorry. I'll be sure to mark this company down in my study" As he turns and walks away...
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would rank the Smart For Two just a notch above a used Yugo.
      • 2 Years Ago
      ... and if you still own that "green" Prius when its due for a battery replacement, it may be time for a short-term loan to pay for it. Take into consideration the recycling cost of that old battery too, and what went into making those batteries, and how green those batteries aren't.
        • 2 Years Ago
        In some states, such as CA, the battery warranty goes up to 150,000 miles. And the cost to replace it is around $2,000, which any reasonable car owner should be able to put aside for maintenance within 10 years of ownership. Show me a 10+ yr. old car that wouldn't eventually need some expensive maintenance.
        • 2 Years Ago
        If you think the pollution from making the Prius' 100 pound non-toxic recyclable battery pack is remotely equivalent to the pollution from producing, refining, spilling, then burning the SEVEN TONS of gasoline it will save over 120,000 miles compared with a 35mpg car, you are utterly lacking in common sense. Do the math,
          • 2 Years Ago
          Sorry, *THREE* tons of gasoline saved. Math is hard :)
        • 2 Years Ago
        There was a time when Prius batteries costed about 10 grand to replace, but they are down to about 2 grand now. Plus, there are MANY examples of Prius hybrids getting well in excess of 250,000 miles and not needing ANY replacement of the battery system (the battery is warrantied for 8 years, 100,000 miles). I do concur about how "not green" the batteries are to make, but Toyota's hybrid system is probably the best out there for seeing savings at the pump each time you fill up. And they don't drive like a slug either (just ask Al Gore Jr. about his 115 mph jaunt in a Prius a few years back).
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yes, a 100 pound battery that saves thousands of pounds of gasoline from being burned is really an environmental menace, isn't it?
        • 2 Years Ago
        Once again, "carnet," that's a fiction. I don't know of anyone who was owned a Prius that needed a replacement battery. They are not that expensive from the dealer and you can even find them in junk yards or on Ebay even. I understand that the entire hybrid system (which includes the hybrid battery pack) is warrantied for 8 years/100,000 miles. You return any bad batteries to your dealer for recycling. So, if you are saying that an occasional bad battery is equally as harmful as the gallons of carbon-spewing gas that your SUV is burning, it's not even close. Oh, and, by the way, I only spend about $100/month for gas. Bet your bill is a lot higher.
      • 2 Years Ago
      ONLINE JOBS INFO -- like Matthew answered I am shocked that someone able to make $7924 in one month on the computer. did you see this web link ------> www.Jam40.cℴm
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've had 4 MB's...they were fun AND expensive...but you never get to use all that power...esp in LA...mileage about 10-16 MPG. One day I realized I had a pretty and expensive parking lot ornament. I have now had a Prius for almost two years. It's everything they said it was and it averages anywhere from 45-53 MPG without trying and I have never not had enought power to drive around SoCal.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cheapest car: the King is a used Ford Tempo. I've gotten them free, easy to fix, parts are cheap and even cheaper from the junkyards. Once I get one and fix the bugs the cars are very reliable from then on. Insurance and license is dirt cheap. They get 35-40 mpg. Only way to motor cheaper is to have Mommy and Daddy pay for it.
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