For one thing, this is the first Greenest list that doesn't have any purely internal combustion engine powertrain on it. Hybrids, yes, but if you want to be one of the top 12 greenest cars this year, you'd better have some sort of electric angle. ACEEE says that the conventional, gas-powered Smart Fortwo and Chevrolet Spark just missed the cut. In a statement, ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan said, "The 2016 scores are in, and plug-in electric vehicles are outpacing all other vehicle offerings in terms of environmental friendliness." Like last year, one of the noticeable vehicles missing from the green list is the Tesla Model S. One reason? ACEEE takes curb weight into account (lighter is better), and the Model S is a heavy beast.
The ACEEE doesn't just look at the clean side of the ledger. It also puts out a "meanest" list. These are the vehicles that pollute the most, not only from their tailpipes, but also any pollution created during the entire manufacturing process, from mining the raw materials to the energy used to produce the vehicle at the factory. The entire list, from greenest to meanest, is done using a "cradle to grave" analysis. You can see how the ACEEE determines its rankings here, explore the entire greenest cars site here, or click through our galleries to see which vehicles are extra green (above) or extra mean (below) this year.
Electric Vehicles Nab 9 out of Top 12 Spots in ACEEE's Environmental Vehicle Rankings
Washington, DC: Despite a tumultuous year for the automotive industry, manufacturers have continued to offer exciting technology options for a growing vehicle market. Today at greenercars.org, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its 19th annual comprehensive environmental ratings for vehicles.
The following vehicles comprise the Greenest List for 2016:
1. Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Convertible / Coupe 63
2. Chevrolet Spark EV 63
3. Fiat 500E 62
4. Toyota Prius Eco 61
5. Volkswagen E-Golf 61
6. Nissan Leaf S / Leaf SV 61
7. Kia Soul Electric 59
8. Toyota Prius C 59
9. Toyota Prius 58
10. Ford Focus Electric 57
11. Chevrolet Volt 56
12. Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 56
The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive tops the Greenest List for the third year in a row with an unprecedented Green Score of 63. Toyota's Prius line performs exceedingly well once again, with the new Prius Eco nabbing the 4th spot, while the Prius C and original Prius claim spots #8 and #9. For the first time ever, the Greenest list is completely populated by plug-in and hybrid vehicles; not a single vehicle with only an internal combustion engine appears. This is partly due to the disappearance from the American market of a few of the longstanding entries on the Greenest List, including the Honda Civic Natural Gas. However, the conventional Smart ForTwo and Chevrolet Spark hover just below the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid.
"The 2016 scores are in, and plug-in electric vehicles are outpacing all other vehicle offerings in terms of environmental friendliness. Fortunately, the electricity sector is slated to become cleaner over the life of model year 2016 vehicles, thanks to the Clean Power Plan, and that has bumped up electric vehicles' green scores this year. Nevertheless, it's important to acknowledge that how green your electric vehicle truly is depends on the electricity it uses to charge," said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan.
The newest additions to the list are the Volkswagen eGolf and the Kia's Soul electric vehicle, which claim the #5 and #7 spots respectively. This year marks the first time a Kia vehicle has earned a top spot since 2009. The improved 2016 Chevrolet Volt also nabs a spot this year (#11) thanks to significant increases in fuel economy and its new streamlined vehicle design. Once again this year, a diverse array of manufacturers are represented among the top 12 vehicles, including two American manufacturers.
Modern clean diesels have repeatedly placed well in ACEEE's annual rankings, only a few places away from the "Greenest" list. However, following the EPA announcement that Volkswagen has cheated federal emissions standards since 2009 with the use of defeat devices, greenercars.org suspended its Green Scores for all affected VW, Audi, and Porsche diesel models.
Greenercars.org identifies practical options in each class among the top widely available, automatic transmission, petroleum-fueled models, since many of the vehicles on the Greenest list are not widely available. The Greener Choices list includes trucks and SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Trax and the GMC Canyon. The gasoline-powered Chevrolet Spark and Honda Fit top their respective car classes. As the list demonstrates, consumers can make greener choices whatever their vehicle needs may be. Domestic manufacturers claimed five of the 12 Greener Choices spots:
Greener Choices Score
1. Toyota Prius Eco 61
2. Toyota Prius C 59
3. Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Convertible / Coupe 55
4. Chevrolet Spark 54
5. Toyota Prius V 54
6. Honda Fit 53
7. Ford C-Max Hybrid 51
8. Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid 48
9. Chevrolet Trax 47
10. Ford Transit Connect Van 42
11. Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 42
12. Chevrolet Colorado / GMC Canyon 40
Greenercars.org provides the facts necessary to examine the eco-performance of any 2016 model. The site assigns each vehicle a Green Score, a single measure that incorporates lifecycle greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions. Updates to this year's methodology include new estimates of emissions from fuel sourcing, transportation, and distribution as well as Clean Power Plan adjustments to electricity emissions.
The Meanest List this year is comprised of one pickup, heavier medium-duty vehicles, and a handful of European sports cars that are the least friendly to the environment. Vehicles with very low sales units are omitted from this list, and this year Class 2b pickups weighing above 8,500 lbs. were not rated:
1. Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG 20
2. Chevrolet/GMC G2500 Express / Savana (Passenger) (MDPV) 22
3. Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 22
4. Bentley Mulsanne 23
5. Mercedes-Benz G550 23
6. Toyota Sequoia FFV 25
7. Ford Transit T150 Wagon FFV 25
8. Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG 25
9. Lexus LX 570 26
10. Bentley Continental GT Convertible / Flying Spur 26
11. Toyota Tundra 26
12. Mercedes-Benz GL550 4Matic 26
In addition to highlighting the year's Greenest, Meanest, Greener Choices, and best-in-class lists, the greenercars.org website features informative write-ups on model year 2016 highlights, a consumer primer on vehicles and the environment, and advice on how to buy green when shopping for a new car or truck.
Green Scores of the 1,000+ configurations of all model year 2016 vehicles are available for free in the greenercars.org interactive database, along with each configuration's fuel economy, health-related pollution impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions. Visitors to the database can also build custom lists for comparing vehicles.
About ACEEE: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit aceee.org.