What Are the Most Environmentally-Friendly Vehicles of 2014?

Do you fancy yourself a champion of the environment (or simply a person who really wants to pay less money for gas)? Are you in the market for a new car? Then you’ll want to check out the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) recommendations for the greenest vehicles of 2014.

While the Council’s “meanest” cars list — vehicles one should absolutely avoid if they’re trying to reduce their impact on the environment — was topped with powerful SUVs and inefficient luxury sports cars, the “greenest” list was firmly rooted on the other end of the spectrum. When it comes to environmental responsibility and fuel efficiency, hybrids, electrics, and smart cars reign supreme.

Here’s the ACEEE’s top 10 greenest vehicles for 2014:

  • 12. Volkwagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 11. Mercedes-Benz Smart Fortwo Convertible/Coupe
  • 10. Honda Insight
  • 9. Honda Civic Natural Gas
  • 8. Mitsubishi Mirage
  • 7. Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid
  • 6. Lexus CT 200H
  • 5. Honda Civic Hybrid
  • 4. Toyota Prius
  • 3. Nissan Leaf
  • 2. Toyota Prius C
  • 1. Mercedes-Benz Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Convertible/Coupe

Interestingly, some of the most popular hybrids and electrics were missing from the list, or were found further down than one might expect. How could this be possible?

The ACEEE takes into account more than just fuel efficiency when it rates vehicles. Here’s how the council explains its scoring system:

“We analyze automakers’ test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, along with other specifications reported by automakers. We estimate pollution from vehicle manufacturing, from the production and distribution of fuel and from vehicle tailpipes. We count air pollution, such as fine particles, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and other pollutants according to the health problems caused by each pollutant. We then factor in greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) and combine the emissions estimates into a Green Score that runs on a scale from 0 to 100.”

This scoring system has attracted controversy over the years. In 2011, GM contested the Chevrolet Volt’s appearance in 13th place on the list, scoring lower than the Mini Cooper and the Hyundai Elantra. While this may be a legitimate concern, we think the ACEEE’s rating system is, at the very least, a good place to start — especially for consumers looking for a conventional gasoline-powered car that gets better mileage than the norm.

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