A ‘green’ aura has been cast over the auto industry in ways large and small. While there has been growing interest in vehicles with greater environmental performance since the 1990s, that interest has been incremental. Higher efficiency models? Yep. Alternative fuel vehicles? Sure, some. Hybrids? Yes please. Plug-in models? Of course, growing slowly over the years but increasing exponentially in recent times, in no small part due to generous federal and state incentives, regulations moving us away from internal combustion, and a wholesale shift in auto industry strategies that are embracing electrification.
For several decades, most of this was driven by the need to address fuel efficiency and energy diversity, tackling a vexing dependency on imported oil. The other important driver was the need for cleaner-running cars with significantly lower tailpipe emissions, which spoke to mitigating the smog that has historically created air quality issues in major cities across the country.
A Focus on Carbon Emissions
Then, sometime around 15 years ago, there was a shift as concerns about climate change and carbon emissions began taking shape. While smog-forming emissions and fuel efficiency continue to be fundamental to the need for cleaner cars, carbon emissions – and ways to decrease them – is driving greater interest in plug-in vehicles that enable zero-emission driving. All this interest has grown in tandem with awareness of new vehicle models that achieve ever-higher levels of environmental sustainability across the board.
Widely recognized as the most important environmental awards in the automotive field over the past 19 years, Green Car Journal’s Green Car Awards™ program takes all this in account as the most environmentally positive vehicles are identified each year, as they have been since the first Green Car Awards were announced in Los Angeles in 2005. As we’ve seen in recent years, electrification has taken on increasing importance in the automotive market and this is reflected in a greater number of electrified vehicles as finalists, and as it turns out, in this year’s award winners. And that leads us to this year’s Green Car Awards™ program.
Green Car of the Year
Green Car Journal has awarded its prestigious 2024 Green Car of the Year® honor to the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Toyota’s Prius has earned its well-deserved reputation as a leading eco-conscious model since its introduction to American highways in 2000. Yet, amid the tremendously competitive nature of the Green Car Awards™ field and the program’s focus – which considers not only environmental achievement but also traditional touchstones like performance and a fun-to-drive nature – the Green Car of the Year© honor has remained elusive for the Prius and its plug-in iteration over the years. That ends now with the Prius Prime’s win of 2024 Green Car of the Year.
Toyota’s Prius Prime has evolved to become the ideal vehicle for our time. The plug-in hybrid variant of the new fifth-generation Prius hatchback, Prius Prime champions the high efficiency and eco-consciousness that has long defined the Prius nameplate. Now it also speaks to car enthusiasts with its compelling style and impressive performance. Importantly, it offers the range-anxiety-free ability to drive 44 miles on battery power and 600 overall miles as a hybrid. Given the average daily miles driven by consumers, that means most Prius Prime owners will find their daily driving experience to be one behind the wheel of a zero-emission electric vehicle achieving up to 127 MPGe.
Green SUV of the Year
There’s no lack of SUV models on the market these days so choices are abundant. Increasingly, many of these models feature electric drive and plug-in capability, and the magazine’s focus has gravitated here. To that end, Green Car Journal editors have identified the Alfa Romeo Tonale, this brand’s first plug-in hybrid, as the magazine’s 2024 Green SUV of the Year™.
The Tonale combines the marque’s sensuous Italian style with welcome functionality, a sporty and high-tech interior, and an engaging driving experience courtesy of adjustable driving dynamics and best-in-class horsepower. Its 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, which can be charged in less than three hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charger, enables the Tonale to drive 33 zero-emission miles on battery power while delivering an overall 360 mile range.
Family Green Car of the Year
Honored with Green Car Journal’s 2024 Family Green Car of the Year™ award is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the electrified version of this automaker’s seven passenger Outlander SUV. This handsome electrified SUV does it all. Now a two-time winner of Family Green Car of the Year™, and in its earlier generation winner of 2019 Green SUV of the Year, the Outlander PHEV’s charms begin with three row seating for larger families, with the rear seat foldable and stowable in a floor well to optimize cargo space.
The Outlander PHEV’s efficient gas engine/twin motor PHEV drivetrain delivers satisfying efficiency while offering 38 miles of battery electric range as an EV, plus a total 420 mile driving range overall. Like full electric vehicles, the plug-in hybrid Outlander PHEV features ‘one pedal driving’ and DC fast charge capability. Adding to its versatility is Mitsubishi’s Super-All Wheel Control that enables confident driving over varying terrain and in challenging road conditions.
Green Car Product of Excellence
Making the cut to become a finalist in a Green Car Awards™ category is an honor earned by virtue of commendable environmental achievement that distinguishes a model above its peers. Each of these vehicles is recognized with Green Car Journal’s 2024 Green Car Product of Excellence™.
2024 Green Car of the Year© finalists honored with Green Car Journal's Green Car Product of Excellence: Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Ioniq 6, Hyundai Sonata, Tesla Model 3, Toyota Prius Prime.
2024 Green SUV of the Year™ finalists honored with Green Car Journal's Green Car Product of Excellence: Alfa Romeo Tonale, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Dodge Hornet, Genesis GV70 Electrified, Hyundai Kona.
2024 Family Green Car of the Year™ finalists honored with Green Car Journal's Green Car Product of Excellence: Kia EV9, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-90 PHEV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Toyota Grand Highlander.