Meet the Greenest and Meanest vehicles of 2016

The ACEEE's Annual Green List Does Away With One Type Of Powertrain

ACEEE Greenest Vehicles of 2016
  • ACEEE Greenest Vehicles of 2016
    • Image Credit: Smart

    ACEEE Greenest Vehicles of 2016

  • VW Jetta Hybrid
    • Image Credit: AOL 2016

    12: VW Jetta Hybrid

    Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

    ACEEE Green Score: 56 (higher is better)

    Just squeaking onto the 2016 top 12 list is the VW Jetta Hybrid. There were no vehicles on the list this year that had a purely gas-powered engine. ACEEE says that the conventional Smart Fortwo and Chevy Spark were just below the Jetta on the list, but if you want a green car, look to elecrification.

  • 2016 Chevy Volt
    • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

    11: 2016 Chevy Volt

    2016 Chevy Volt

    ACEEE Green Score: 56

    For the updated 2016 model, Chevy improved the Volt in pretty much every way. While more efficient than the previous version, the new Volt still only managed to come in 11th on ACEEE's list.

  • Ford Focus Electric
    • Image Credit: AOL 2016

    10: Ford Focus Electric

    Ford Focus Electric

    ACEEE Green Score: 57

    The second, of three, domestic vehicles on the list this year, Ford's only all-electric model just beat out its more popular Detroit rival, the Chevy Volt.

  • Toyota Prius
    • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

    9: 2016 Toyota Prius

    2016 Toyota Prius

    ACEEE Green Score: 58

    ACEEE calculates figures for not only the different make and models each year, but also different trim levels. So, you might see an Eco trim version of the Prius ranked higher on this list, but even the standard model, which gets 53/46 City/HWY MPG, had a good showing. 

  • Toyota Prius C
    • Image Credit: AOL 2016

    8: Toyota Prius C

    Toyota Prius C

    ACEEE Green Score: 59

    In 2015, the Prius C was in fourth place. The car remains the same this year, but it's dropped to 8th. That's how fast the green auto industry moves.

  • Kia Soul Electric
    • Image Credit: AOL 2016

    7: Kia Soul Electric

    Kia Soul Electric

    ACEEE Green Score: 59

    The average ACEEE score for new vehicles is 40 and the highest possible is 100. As you can see from all these green winners, scores of around 60 are about as good as you can get these days. With a 59, the Kia Soul EV made the Greenest top 12 list for the first time.

  • Nissan Leaf S / SV
    • Image Credit: Nissan

    6: Nissan Leaf S / SV

    Nissan Leaf S / Leaf SV

    ACEEE Green Score: 61

    Dropping one spot in the rankings, the long-running Nissan Leaf remains a highly efficient choice. The big question is how the rest of the ACEEE's list looks when the next-generation Leaf arrives with more range in the battery.

  • VW E-Golf
    • Image Credit: AOL 2016

    5: VW E-Golf

    VW E-Golf

    ACEEE Green Score: 61

    In 2015, the Nissan Leaf was in fifth place. This year, the newer E-Golf took its spot, but the Leaf still got the same score of 61. The ACEEE ranks vehicles with the same score by other factors, like pollution created during manufacturing and the composition of the battery packs.

  • 2016 Toyota Prius Eco
    • Image Credit: Copyright 2016 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

    4: 2016 Toyota Prius Eco

    Toyota Prius Eco

    ACEEE Green Score: 61

    The just-released third-generation Prius upped its fuel economy game (58 in the city), which was enough for this five-person car to supplant the smaller Prius C in last year's ranking.

  • Fiat 500E
    • Image Credit: AOL 2016

    3: Fiat 500E

    Fiat 500E

    ACEEE Green Score: 62

    Coming in third (again - this starts a trend) is the only all-electric Fiat available. EVs are not rated on a miles-per-gallon scale, obviously, but by miles per kilowatt-hour.

  • Chevy Spark EV
    • Image Credit: GM

    2: Chevy Spark EV

    Chevrolet Spark EV

    ACEEE Green Score: 63

    Tied for the top score of 63 with the Smart ED, the Chevy Spark EV moves up from second place in 2015.

  • Smart ED
    • Image Credit: Smart

    1: Smart ED

    Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Convertible / Coupe

    ACEEE Green Score: 63

    This is the third year in a row that the Smart ED has been the Number 1 Greenest car on the ACEEE's list. That's an unprecedented run for the little two-seater.

If you've been keeping track, you won't be surprised with the number one entry in this year's list of greenest cars from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). In fact, the top three spots on the 2016 list are all the same as they were in 2015. After that, things get interesting.

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.

12: Mercedes-Benz GL550 4MATIC
12: Mercedes-Benz GL550 4MATIC
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More Electric Cars than Ever on Greenest Vehicles List
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, 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:

Greenest Score
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, suspended its Green Scores for all affected VW, Audi, and Porsche diesel models. 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 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:

Meanest Score
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 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 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

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