March 30, 2023

February, 2008: Driving vehicles with low fuel consumption is great for our pocketbooks and helps reduce our society’s dependence on fossil fuels. However, better mileage doesn’t necessarily equate to better environmental impact.

For example, some diesel-powered vehicles have high mileage ratings, such as the Volkswagen Jetta TDI (35 MPG city/42 MPG hwy.). Unfortunately, it emits more than eight times the amount of poisonous nitrogen oxide as its gasoline-powered counterpart. In fact, several diesel models fail California’s emission standards, and are unavailable for purchase.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) analyzes every configuration of the vehicles available in America. Its standardized testing encompasses more pollution factors than even the government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including “cradle to grave” analysis.

Every vehicle receives a green score indicating its affect on the environment. Scores are tabulated and published in ACEEE’s Green Book: The Environmental Guide to Cars and Trucks.

Following is a list of the least polluting, greenest vehicles (higher score is best).

  1. Honda Civic GX [CNG], auto CVT (57)
  2. Toyota Prius, auto CVT (53)
  3. Honda Civic Hybrid, auto CVT (51)
  4. Smart ForTwo, auto stick (49)
  5. Toyota Yaris, manual (46)
  6. Nissan Altima Hybrid, auto CVT (46)
  7. Toyota Corolla, manual (45)
  8. Mini Cooper, manual (44)
  9. Ford Focus, manual (44)
  10. Toyota Camry Hybrid, auto CVT (44)
  11. Honda Civic, manual (44)
  12. Honda Fit, manual (44)

Following is a list of the most polluting, meanest vehicles on the environment.

  1. Volkswagen Touareg (diesel), auto stick 4WD (14)
  2. Bugatti Veyron (premium gas), auto stick AWD (17)
  3. Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI (diesel), auto 4WD (17)
  4. Jeep Grand Cherokee (diesel), auto 4WD (17)
  5. Mercedes-Benz R320 CDI (diesel), auto 4WD (17)
  6. Lamborghini Murcielago (premium gas), manual AWD (18)
  7. Mercedes-Benz ML320 CDI (diesel), auto 4WD (18)
  8. Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG (premium gas), auto 4WD (18)
  9. Hummer H2, auto 4WD (18)
  10. GMC Yukon 2500, auto 4WD (18)
  11. Bentley Azure (premium gas), auto stick (18)
  12. Bentley Arnage (premium gas), auto stick (18)

Following is a list of greenest vehicles by segment:

Two Seater: Audi TT Coupe, auto stick (41)
Subcompact Car: Smart ForTwo, auto stick (49)
Compact Car: Honda Civic Hybrid, auto CVT (51)
Midsize Car: Toyota Prius, auto CVT (53)
Large Car: Hyundai Sonata, auto (39)
Small Wagon: Honda Fit, manual (44)
Midsize Wagon: Volkswagen Passat Wagon, manual (38)
Minivan: Toyota Sienna, auto (33)
Compact Pickup: Ford Ranger / Mazda B2300, manual (36)
Standard Pickup: Ford Ranger V6, manual 4WD (29)
Compact SUV: Ford Escape Hybrid / Mazda Tribute Hybrid / Mercury Hybrid, auto CVT (42)
Midsize SUV: Nissan Rogue, auto (39)
Large SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid C1500 / GMC Yukon Hybrid C1500, auto CVT (28)

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