The results aren’t yet in on the Green Car Journal’s 2012 Green Car of the Year Award, but they have announced their five finalists for the coveted title. And the competition is…interesting. The fact is that there are so many “green” cars on the road these days, and so many ideas of what it means to be green, that most of the vehicles on the list are hardly comparable. However, the Journal will do their best to pick one of the finalists to receive the Green Car of the Year Award, with the winner being announced at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 17th (although all will be honored with a spot on their top-five list for the year).
The contenders this year (all 2012 models) are the Ford Focus Electric, the Honda Civic Natural Gas, the Mitsubishi i, the Toyota Prius v, and the Volkswagen Passat TDI. And you can see why the judges will have a difficult time choosing the greenest of the bunch. Not only do they come with widely varied features, but the methods of locomotion are vastly different. The Focus, for example, is fully electric, meaning no emissions. It comes with all kinds of nifty features for modern drivers (like a smart phone app that tells drivers how much charge remains in their car) and it gets an astonishing 100 miles on a charge.
But then there’s the Mitsubishi i, which is also an electric vehicle. It may only have a range of 62 miles on a charge, but it has an awful lot of options for charging, from a portable plug that works in standard 120-volt outlets, to a jack for a 240-volt charging station, to an add-on quick-charger port that can be used in public outlets to get up to an 80% charge in as little as thirty minutes. All could be pretty handy (and the cute packaging will likely appeal to teen drivers). But while the fully electric vehicles may seem to head the pack, the others have a lot to offer, as well.
The new Prius, for example, is a plug-in hybrid, which means it’s one of the few crossover vehicles that still come with the potential for government rebates and carpool exemptions. Plus, it gets 15 miles out of a charge, which increases fuel efficiency to an estimated 49 mpg. Then there are the alternative fuel options. The Civic comes with nearly zero emissions from its compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel, plus 38 mpg highway and cool extras like eco-assist (to help drivers operate their vehicle more efficiently) and the econ button to auto-optimize fuel efficiency. And the Passat gets an awesome 44 mpg from clean-burning diesel, not to mention all the power that the other cars in their lineup come with.
It’s going to be a tough choice for the judges, but luckily they’re well qualified for the challenge, with well-known names like Carl Pope (chairman of the Sierra Club), Carroll Shelby (yes, that Shelby), and car-enthusiast Jay Leno (amongst others) on the panel.
About the Author
Sarah Danielson writes for Logan Airport Transportation which offers over 100 unique vehicles and superior service at affordable prices.