Eco-friendly doesn’t mean only using less gas and driving an electric or hybrid vehicle. After all, batteries can be disastrous for the environment. In addition, manufacturing cars leaves a large footprint, too. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has been testing vehicles for their eco-friendliness since 2007. Here you’ll find the top five vehicles for the last five years.
Evaluating How Eco-Friendly a Car Is
The ACEEE has developed an evaluation process that allows for comparison. Although the organization changed some of their evaluation methods for model year 2019, they have remained consistent otherwise.
In general, the ACEEE evaluates these criteria:
- test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the US EPA and the California Air Resources Board
- other specifications reported by manufacturers
- pollution estimates from the manufacturing process, production and distribution of fuel, and vehicle tailpipes
- air pollution
- greenhouse gases
The complete evaluation of each vehicle ends in a score out of 100: 0 meaning abominable for the environment, and 100 being incredible.
Best green cars 2019
The top five vehicles with model year 2019 received ratings between 64 and 67. One vehicle is still gas-powered. This proves that going electric doesn’t automatically make your vehicle environmentally friendly.
Top eco-friendly cars 2018
The top six eco-friendly models for model year 2018 received a score between 66 and 70 (two tied for 66).
- Hyundai Ioniq Electric
- Mercedes-Benz Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Coupe
- BMW i3 BEV (94 Ah)
- Tesla Model 3 Long Range
- Kia Soul Electric
- Chevrolet Bolt EV
Best green cars 2017 & 2016
The top five vehicles for these two years scored between 60 and 64. The results were identical in both years.
Eco-friendly cars 2015
The top cars came in between 57 to 61. If you look at the whole list, you’ll notice a lot of gas-powered vehicles on it still. The number of gas-powered vehicles that made it to the ACEEE’s greenest cars list dropped dramatically in 2016.
- Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Convertible / Coupe
- Chevrolet Spark EV
- Fiat 500E
- Toyota Prius C (1.5L)
- Nissan Leaf
Environmental Cars: Not Always Battery-Powered
At least not yet. If you’re in the market for a used car, peruse the historical data for the ACEEE’s ratings. You’ll be able to research eco-friendly vehicles that still fit your budget and help you play your part in putting the environment back on track.