The Toyota RAV4 EV has been chosen by the Automobile Club of Southern California as its top green car pick this year. The Japanese automaker’s car is featured with nearly 80 other green vehicles in the Auto Club’s latest Green Car Guide. The top green vehicles were announced at the motor club’s historic Los Angeles headquarters.
The 130-page guide helps those in the market for a new vehicle with information about low-polluting and fuel-sipping cars. The report also lists top green vehicles based on scores and value. This year the report previews fuel cell vehicles for the 2014-2015 model years although none were tested for the 2013 guide.
When price is factored in, the 2012 Nissan Versa tops the list as the green car with the best value for the second year, according to the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center Manager and Chief Engineer Steve Mazor. Evaluations in the latest guide include nearly 80 hybrids, battery electric vehicles, PZEVs, CNG-powered vehicles, clean diesels and vehicles with category-leading fuel economy.
In describing the top green vehicle, Mazor said, “Toyota, partnering with Tesla, has produced an impressive full electric compact SUV that is the top scoring Green Car the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center has ever tested. The RAV4 EV has excellent acceleration, zero tailpipe emissions and a real 100+ mile range, while maintaining roominess and flexibility.”
Mazor added that the price of $49,800 may be steep but “since electricity is so much less expensive on a per-mile basis, it has much lower operating costs than a gas RAV4. There are also federal and state tax incentives available that can reduce the purchase expense by as much as $10,000.”
ARC engineers and specialists evaluated vehicle characteristics including emissions, fuel economy, crashworthiness, braking, acceleration and handling.
“Making a car-buying decision surrounded by new and emerging technology can be intimidating,” said Mazor. “The Auto Club’s Green Car Guide aims to help consumers understand the variety of green vehicles available, the basics of how green cars operate, new green vehicle terminology and most importantly how to get the most value for the dollar in the green vehicle marketplace. We also want to help consumers select vehicles that use less fuel and are less polluting.”
Consumers can now choose high-quality low emission vehicles and hybrids ranging in vehicle category, price range and size from the Honda CR-Z to a Lexus LS600h (full-size luxury sedan) to a Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid (full-size SUV), according to Mazor. Among the 77 hybrids, the ARC tested three plug-in vehicles for this year’s report: a 2013 Ford C-Max Energi, the 2012 Toyota Prius PHEV, and the 2012 Chevy Volt.
The top five scoring vehicles in the 2013 Auto Club Green Car Guide are:
1.Toyota RAV4 EV
2.Lexus GS 450h (Mid-Sized 4-Door Sedan)
3.Toyota Highlander LTD Hybrid 4WD
4.Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
5.Volkswagen Touareg Supercharged Hybrid
The top five best-value scoring vehicles in the Auto Club Green Car Guide are:
1.Nissan Versa 1.6S
2.Chevrolet Spark 1LT
3.Hyundai Elantra GLS M/T
Each of 13 categories (including emissions, mpg, acceleration, handling, interior noise, ride quality, and cargo capacity) was scored on 0-10 points. Scores were totaled to determine top vehicles. Then, each vehicle’s total score was divided by its as-tested price to determine its cost per point for best value. The guide lists vehicle specifications, test scores, data and observations in one-page summaries.
Tested vehicles were selected based on emission certifications from the California Air Resources Board and fuel economy ratings from the US EPA. Tests were performed at the ARC in Diamond Bar, the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and on Southern California roads. Testing procedures were developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Auto Club.
The guide also will soon be available at no charge at Auto Club branches while supplies last.
A summary can be found at www.AAA.com/greenerdriving.