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Green Car Awards: Best of 2022

by Ron CoganNovember 12, 2021
Every year, there are new vehicle models that stand out with their exceptional efficiency and attention to environmental performance. You need to know about them. Green Car Journal’s Green Car Awards honor the best-of-the-best to keep you up to speed.

Since the very first Green Car Awards™ presented by Green Car Journal in 2005, the magazine’s mission has been to acknowledge and encourage environmental achievement in the auto industry. It has always been important to recognize new models that are driving a green revolution on our highways by decreasing emissions, encouraging energy diversity, and improving efficiency. This enlightened way forward is crucial to vastly improving the automobile’s impact on the environment and ensuring a future for personal-use vehicles.

That mission has never been more vital than it is today as we see first-hand the environmental challenges we all face. While there are many ways to address these challenges and solutions must come from many fronts, it’s reassuring to know that the auto industry is stepping up in significant ways.

High efficiency internal combustion models that eke out fuel economy numbers in the 30 to 40 mile-per-gallon range, and above, were unheard of in the recent past. They’re on the road today. Hybrids that extend fuel efficiency to 40 and 50 miles per gallon are not uncommon. Models driving on battery electric power often are achieving an energy equivalent of 80, 90, and 100 miles-per-gallon, or more. There’s still work to be done to accomplish important environmental goals, but this truly is a watershed moment.

The motor vehicle continues to have an important story to tell, now and in the decades ahead. That story speaks to greater efficiency, improved attention to sustainability, and a more thoughtful approach to environmental compatibility, all made possible by the enlightened design, advanced technologies, and amazing innovation found in an unfolding new generation of vehicles. The Green Car Awards – the most important environmental awards in the auto industry – celebrate these vehicles, and by extension the automakers, engineers, product planners, and others who make them happen.

Each award year, Green Car Journal editors examine the universe of vehicle models sold in the U.S. that distinguish themselves with exemplary environmental credentials. Through an extensive vetting process, five vehicles are identified in each of eight categories that stand out by virtue of their environmental achievement. This process considers many factors such as lower carbon emissions, greater efficiency, or the use of advanced technologies such as lightweighting, electrification, more efficient internal combustion, or other innovative efficiency-enhancing or sustainability strategies. Each model that rises to the top 5 in a category are honored with Green Car Journal’s Green Car Product of Excellence™. These standout vehicles then advance to be finalists for Green Car Awards.

Models honored with 2022 Green Car Product of Excellence are: Audi e-tron GT; Audi Q4 e-tron; BMW i4; BMW iX; BrightDrop EV 600; Chevrolet Bolt EUV; Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid; ELMS Urban Delivery EV; Ford E-Transit; Ford F-150; Ford Maverick; Ford Mustang Mach-E GT; GMC Hummer EV; Honda Civic; Hyundai IONIQ 5; Hyundai Kona Electric; Hyundai Tucson; Hyundai Venue; Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe; Karma GS-6; Kia EV6; Kia Seltos; Kia Sorento Hybrid/PHEV; Lexus NX; Lightning eMotors Electric Van; Lucid Air; Mercedes-Benz EQS; MINI Cooper SE; Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo; Rivian Electric Delivery Van; Rivian R1T; Tesla Model S Plaid; Toyota Sienna; Toyota Tundra; Volkswagen ID.4; Volvo C40 Recharge.

This year involved weighing the merits of more potential finalists than any previous year in the award program’s history. In the shifting sands of the pandemic, the auto industry’s chip shortage, and today’s phased timeline for new model introductions throughout the year, an important part of this process is determining a new model’s realistic delivery timeline, not just the availability of online preorders. In some cases this means a new high-profile model must be considered in the following year’s award program.

For the past 16 years, the Green Car of the Year® has been selected by an invited jury that includes leaders of the nation’s energy efficiency and environmental organizations, along with celebrity auto expert Jay Leno and Green Car Journal staff. This year’s invited jury included Paula Glover, president of the Alliance to Save Energy; Mindy Lubber, president of CERES; Joseph K. Lyou, president and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air; Matt Petersen, president and CEO of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and advisory board chair of Climate Mayors; and Dr. Alan Lloyd, president emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation and senior research fellow at the Energy Institute, University of Texas at Austin. Winners of all other Green Car Awards are selected by a jury of automotive experts and Green Car Journal staff.

Electrification is so important to 'green' cars today that nearly every Green Car Awards finalist included a battery electric, plug-in hybrid, or hybrid powertrain option, and all Green Car of the Year candidates were exclusively battery electric for the first time. After all the vetting, the evaluations, and the decisions, the results are in. Six of the eight award winners are all-electric vehicles and two are highly-efficient hybrids. Here are the standout winners and worthy finalists for this year’s 2022 Green Car Awards:

2022 Green Car of the Year® Audi Q4 e-tron

Finalists for Green Car Journal’s signature award included the Audi Q4 e-tron, BMW i4, Kia EV6, Rivian R1T, and Volvo C40 Recharge.

2022 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ – Lucid Air

Vying for this award were the Audi e-tron GT, BMW iX, Karma GS-6, Lucid Air, and Mercedes-Benz EQS.

2022 Urban Green Car of the Year™ – Chevrolet Bolt EUV

Finalists were the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Hyundai Kona Electric, Hyundai Venue, Kia Seltos, and MINI Cooper SE.

2022 Performance Green Car of the Year™ – Tesla Model S Plaid

Among this award’s finalists were the Audi e-tron GT RS, Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, Lucid Air Dream Performance, Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo S, and Tesla Model S Plaid.

2022 Green SUV of the Year™ – Hyundai IONIQ 5

The top 5 finalists included Hyundai IONIQ 5, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, Lexus NX, and Volkswagen ID.4.

2022 Commercial Green Car of the Year™ – BrightDrop EV 600

Finalists were BrightDrop EV 600, ELMS Urban Delivery EV, Ford E-Transit, Lightning eMotors Electric Van, and Rivian Electric Delivery Van.

2022 Green Truck of the Year™ – Ford Maverick

Presented at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show, finalists included the Ford F-150, Ford Maverick, GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, and Toyota Tundra.

2022 Family Green Car of the Year™ – Toyota Sienna

Also hosted by the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show, finalists were Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Honda Civic, Kia Sorento Hybrid/PHEV, Toyota Sienna, and Volkswagen ID.4.