The 'Greenest' New Cars of the Year

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The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric is the most environmentally friendly car according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

Though gas prices have been creeping up over the past year, to most consumers they remain relatively affordable. However, there remains a fairly large subset of car buyers for whom saving money at the pump, and/or choosing a model that’s less harmful to the environment, remains of paramount concern.

To that end the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in Washington, D.C., compiles its annual list of the “greenest” cars for sale in the U.S. For 2018, half of the 12 cleanest rides on the road are full-electric vehicles, led for the second year in a row by the Hyundai Ioniq Electric hatchback that boasts an operating range of 124 miles on a charge and the electric equivalent of 150/122 mpg.

The worst offenders in this regard are full-size pickup trucks and truck-based SUVs, led by the Mercedes-Benz G550 4X4 (Squared) with a rock-bottom Green Score of 19. Other mean machines for 2018 include a pair of new high-performance SUVs, the Dodge Durango SRT with a 475-horsepower supercharged V8 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee TrackHawk that puts a blazing 707-horsepower to the pavement.

Be aware, however, that while higher-mileage and electric cars are inherently less damaging to the environment than conventional petrol-powered vehicles, all else being equal, the ACEEE considers more than just a model’s fuel economy when computing its Green Score. Also evaluated is a car or truck’s overall impact on the environment, including manufacturing disposal impact, and energy source. Updates to this year’s methodology include new estimates of emissions associated with electricity production, as well as updated emissions from the manufacturing and recycling of vehicles.

And at that, the environmental impact of a given plug-in model will vary depending on where an owner lives. While an all-electric car generates zero tailpipe emissions, its overall impact depends greatly on the effect to which the local power source used to generate the electricity adversely affects the air, ground and/or water. That means EVs tend to fare best in states where renewable energy resources are prevalent, like California, New York, and the Pacific Northwest, and less so in central U.S. states like Colorado, Kansas and Missouri because of their greater dependence on fossil fuels to produce electricity.

Beyond the lists of environmental winners and sinners, the ACEEE also provides car shoppers with lists of more environmentally friendly choices in all car classes. Non-hybrid or plug-in models with top score in their respective market segments for 2018 include the subcompact Toyota Yaris iA sedan, Honda CR-V and Mercedes-Benz GLA250 crossover SUVs, Chrysler Pacifica minivan, and the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon Diesel and Ford F-150 pickup trucks.

More information on 2018 cars, trucks, and SUVs can be found at the ACEEE’s website. (Not included, however, is data for exotic car lines having extremely low sales volumes, as well as Class 2b pickups weighing above 8,500 lbs.)

‘Greenest’ 2018 Cars
1. Hyundai Ioniq Electric: Green Score 70.

2. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe: Green Score 69.

3. 3. BMW i3 BEV: Green Score 68.

4. Tesla Model 3 EV Long Range: Green Score 67.

5. Kia Soul EV: Green Score 66.

6. Chevrolet Bolt EV: Green Score 66.

7. Hyundai Ioniq Blue Hybrid: Green Score 65.

8. Toyota Prius Eco Hybrid: Green Score 64.

9. Ford Focus Electric: Green Score 64.

10. Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid: Green Score 63.

11. Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid: Green Score 62.

12. Chevrolet Volt Extended-Range EV: Green Score 62.

Source: American Council for an Energy Effici

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