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Green Car Journal has been documenting the evolution of light-duty, personal use transportation over the past three decades. A lot has changed over the years, with fuel efficiency now reaching previously-unexpected levels and electric cars achieving surprising momentum. While environmentally friendly vehicle choices have expanded greatly, the same can’t be said of commercial transportation. But there is significant movement in the form of electric trucks and potentially commercial vehicles running on hydrogen.

Today, legacy truck makers and smaller start-ups alike see the imperative to clean up commercial transportation. Chalk it up to increasing government regulation and the recognition that mitigating carbon emissions and climate change must be resolved on all levels. Not to mention, in these days of extraordinarily high fuel prices and petroleum supply volatility there is even greater reason to look toward new and cleaner answers for motor vehicles of all classes. Larger commercial vehicles are now part of the momentum.

Volvo VNR electric trucks are on the road.

Better Electric Trucks

Green Car Journal’s prestigious Green Car Awards™ have been recognizing new vehicle models exhibiting laudable environmental achievement for the past 17 years. Deserving light-duty vehicles were recognized in eight popular categories earlier in the 2022 model year auto show season. Now, it’s time to turn attention to the next frontier: medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks.

While the mind’s eye can conjure images of large diesel trucks emitting plumes of soot from years past, this has been changing for the better through the application of advanced emissions technologies and alternative fuels. Now, there’s movement afoot to remake the image of medium- and heavy-duty trucks through electrification. The result? Silent, zero-carbon, powerful trucks running exclusively on batteries and electric motors, charging up in lieu of fueling with liquid hydrocarbons.

There’s no better example of this than Volvo’s zero-emission VNR Electric, a battery powered model that’s been undergoing trials through the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) program over the past several years, conducted in partnership with the South Coast Air Quality Management District and a dozen other organizations. The result is the new production Volvo VNR Electric, Green Car Journal’s 2022 Commercial Green Truck of the Year™.

The Class 8 Volvo VNR Electric, based on Volvo Trucks’ popular VNR model, aims to provide a sustainable transportation strategy to fill local and regional distribution, pickup, and delivery needs. Power is provided by a 455 horsepower electric motor featuring 4,051 lb-ft peak torque that’s coupled to a two-speed I-Shift automatic transmission. Top speed is 68 mph. It’s available with six-battery pack options that provide up to a 275 mile driving range and comes with fast-charge capability that enables gaining up to 80 percent state-of-charge within 60 to 90 minutes. The VNR Electric is available in five straight truck and tractor configurations.

Product of Excellence Winners

There’s significant competition out there in the evolving field of ‘greener’ commercial trucks with environmental leadership exhibited in many high-profile ways. The following models are standouts being honored with Green Car Journal’s 2022 Green Car Product of Excellence™ award.

Freightliner eCascadia: This Class 8 electric truck is intended for short haul or last-mile delivery, regional deliver, and drayage. It features 500 horsepower and a 250 mile range.

International eMV: An electrified version of International’s proven MV medium-duty truck, the eMV features 215 continuous horsepower, a 135 mile range, and DC fast-charge capability.

Kenworth T680E: Available as a Class 8 tractor or straight truck, the zero-emission T680E features 536 horsepower, 1623 lb-ft torque, and a 150 mile electric driving range.

Lion Electric Lion6: The Lion6 is a Class 6 urban electric truck featuring 335 horsepower, 1800 lb-ft torque, a 252 kWh battery, and a driving range of up to 200 miles.

Mack LR Electric:  The next-generation Mack LR Electric is a Class 8 truck aimed at refuse and recycling duty. It has a 376 kWh battery and twin electric motors producing 448 horsepower.

Nikola Tre BEV: Nikola’s Tre BEV is an all-electric Class 8 tractor for regional applications featuring 645 horsepower, a 753 kWh battery pack, and an operating range up to 350 miles.

Peterbilt 579EV: The 579EV is a Class 8 Day Cab configuration intended for short haul and drayage operations. It features 536 electric horsepower, a 396 kWh battery, and 150 mile range.

SEA Hino M5 EV: Sea Electric’s Hino truck-based M5 EV Class 5 electric truck integrates the company’s electric SEA-Drive Power System to provide 110 horsepower and a 200 mile range.

The Green Car Awards honor 'greener' cars on our highways.

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.

Display showing vehicle carbon reduction.

Improving Vehicle Efficiency

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.

Green Car Product of Excellence.

Product of Excellence Winners

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.

Green Car of the Year Jury

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:

Green Car Awards Winners

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.

Green Car Journal’s Green Car Awards, the annual awards program honoring the year’s most standout  new ‘green’ models, was presented at the Virtual Greenbuild Conference + Expo in November  this year. The 2021 virtual awards program was an innovation during an unusual year, amid the postponement and cancellation of international auto shows where the Green Car Awards typically take place.

Over the years, these high-profile awards have grown along with the expanding field of ‘green’ cars on the road. They now recognize not only the magazine’s signature Green Car of the Year, but also exceptional models that speak to families, city dwellers, luxury buyers, pickup enthusiasts, and those requiring the functionality of an SUV. All provide the traditional touchstones of safety, quality, value, style, and performance, plus that fun-to-drive quality important to most drivers. What they add are greater efficiency, lower carbon and tailpipe emissions, petroleum reduction or displacement, or operation on battery electric power.

GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR

This year’s candidates for 2021 Green Car of the Year reflect the auto industry’s transition toward electrification, even as it continues to make internal combustion ever-more efficient. Three of this year’s finalists, the Mustang Mach-E, MINI Cooper SE, and Volkswagen ID.4, drive exclusively on zero-emission battery power. The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid that drives up to 23 miles on battery power and hundreds more as a hybrid. The Hyundai Elantra is offered with either an efficient gasoline engine or a gas-electric hybrid achieving up to 50 miles per gallon.

Rising to the top of the field is Green Car Journal’s 2021 Green Car of the Year, Ford’s all-new Mustang Mach-E, a model that boasts an instantly-recognizable name and heritage, while breaking new ground as an all-electric crossover featuring up to 300 miles of range. Performance is part of the package, as is unmistakable style and all the latest advanced electronics.

The 2021 Green Car of the Year® is selected by a highly-respected jury comprised of energy and environmental leaders including Mindy Lubber, president of CERES; Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; 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; Clay Nesler, interim president of the Alliance to Save Energy; and Matt Petersen, president and CEO of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and advisory board chair of Climate Mayors. Rounding out the Green Car of the Year jury is celebrity auto enthusiast Jay Leno and Green Car Journal editors .

LUXURY GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR

At a more premium price point, 2021 Luxury Green Car of the Year finalists also illustrate the momentum achieved by electric drive in the new car vehicle field. Four of these premium vehicles are all-electric models – the Audi e-tron Sportback, Polestar 2, Tesla Model Y, and Volvo XC40 Recharge. The fifth, the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring, is the plug-in hybrid variant of Lincoln’s Corsair compact crossover that combines gas-electric hybrid and all-electric driving.

Honored as this year’s Luxury Green Car of the Year is the Polestar 2, a groundbreaking model from Polestar on many levels. This all-new premium vehicle is only the second of this new auto brand’s model offerings, and the first to be all-electric. This zero-emission, two-door fastback looks to the future even as it foregoes futuristic styling, instead choosing to offer an understated yet elegant and sophisticated design, tasteful appointments, and a nearly 300 mile range on battery power.

URBAN GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR

Urban environments pose their own unique challenges – tight spaces, often crowded streets, and hard-to-find parking. Here, smaller vehicles with a compact physical footprint and easy maneuverability are always top choices. The 2021 Urban Green Car of the Year award recognizes vehicles especially well-suited for life in the city. Top choices for this year’s award are the Hyundai Venue, Kia Seltos, Kia Soul, MINI Cooper SE, and Nissan Versa. Four are conventionally-powered – three of them crossover SUVs and one a compact sedan – with the fourth, the MINI Cooper SE, an all-electric crossover.

Taking top honors for 2021 Urban Green Car of the Year is the all-electric MINI Cooper SE. Standing out as an ideal vehicle for the city, the Cooper SE is compact in stature and big on features. Its represents what this brand all about: An iconic look, great maneuverability, and driving fun wrapped in a small package. Plus, electric power means zero localized emissions and no trips venturing out to the gas station in a crowded urban environment.

FAMILY GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR

While any model can serve family duty, those offering extra versatility and thoughtful family-friendly features are high on many shopping lists. Today, driving ‘green’ has also become a priority. Minivans have always been a solid choice, but these days three-row crossover SUVs can also do the job as family hauler. Finalists for 2021 Family Green Car of the Year are the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sorrento Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and Toyota Sienna. The Kia Sorrento Hybrid and Toyota Highlander Hybrid crossovers drive on efficient hybrid power. Honda’s Odyssey minivan features an efficient V-6 with variable cylinder management. The Toyota Sierra is exclusively a hybrid-powered minivan, while the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan also offers plug-in hybrid power.

Standing out as Family Green Car of the Year is the Toyota Sienna, a minivan that seeks to set the standard for modern family haulers. The stylish and fuel-efficient Sienna offers premium sedan-like style, admirable hybrid fuel efficiency, and a thoughtful blend of family-desired features along with driver-centric characteristics not always associated with minivans. It shows Toyota’s keen grasp of how to make a modern minivan that not only serves up family functionality, but also premium car style and appeal.

GREEN SUV OF THE YEAR

The hottest segment in the automotive field today is the SUV, either full-size or compact, traditional or crossover, two-row or three, conventional, hybrid, or plug-in. There are no shortage of choices, which makes narrowing the field to five outstanding finalists no small challenge. The top five finalists emerging this year for Green SUV of the Year are the Audi Q5 55 TFSI e, BMW X3 xDrive 30e, Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Toyota RAV4 Prime, and Toyota Venza. Four of these –from Audi, BMW, Jeep, and Toyota – are plug-in hybrids with an all-electric driving range from 18 to 42 miles, and additional hundreds of miles on hybrid power. Toyota’s Venza is an all-wheel drive, tech-rich hybrid with exceptional fuel efficiency.

Taking top honors for the 2021 Green SUV of the Year title is the Jeep Wrangler 4xe,  an SUV that’s different in many ways from others in its class. To some, it’s an SUV in the traditional sense with high functionality and loads of versatility that’s perfect for the diversity of everyday life. But to others, it’s that, plus a means of escape, heading toward the city one day and then driving the path less taken on another, a path often rough, unpaved, and pointed towards adventure.

GREEN TRUCK OF THE YEAR

This year’s Green Truck of the Year finalists embody all the workhorse capabilities expected of a modern pickup while offering passenger car-like comfort, advanced on-board electronics, and levels of fuel efficiency unheard of in pickups of just a decade ago. Pickups honored as finalists for Green Truck of the Year are the Chevrolet Colorado, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel, and RAM 1500. All offer diverse powertrain choices, from gasoline and diesel internal combustion to variations of mild- and full-hybrid power.

Powering its way to well-deserved recognition as 2021 Green Truck of the Year is the Ford F-150, a pickup long distinguished as the best-selling model in the nation and a champion of innovation. Beyond its wide array of configurations, powertrain choices, payload capacities, and towing capabilities, it now adds such innovations as an efficient PowerBoost hybrid powerplant, fold-flat ‘sleeper’ seats, and an available Pro Power Onboard output system with outlets that allow the truck to function as a mobile generator at worksites or campsites.

The Green Car Awards™ program, presented annually since 2005, is an important part of Green Car Journal's mission to showcase environmental progress in the automotive field.


2019-green-car-awards-los-angeles-graphic
Green Car Journal
has made a strategic expansion of its annual Green Car of the Year® program at the LA Auto Show’s AutoMobility LA this year, now including complementary awards for 2019 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ and 2019 Green SUV of the Year™. The magazine has also just announced finalists for the three high-profile awards.

Finalists for 2019 Green Car of the Year® include the Honda Insight, Lexus ES 300h, Nissan Altima, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, and Volkswagen Jetta. Competing for 2019 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ are finalists Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-PACE, Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, Range Rover P400e, and Tesla Model 3. The field of 2019 Green SUV of the Year™ finalists includes the Cadillac XT4, Hyundai Kona, Lexus UX, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and the Volvo XC40.

Finalists for the 2019 Green Car of the Year® illustrate that 'green' comes in many forms, with efficient internal combustion and hybrid vehicles taking center stage. Gasoline models continue to achieve notable levels of efficiency and lower carbon emissions. At the same time, it's evident how important electrification has become in today's models, with two 2019 Green SUV of the Year™ finalists and all five finalists for the 2019 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ featuring battery electric or plug-in hybrid power. Green Car Journal has been recognizing leadership in the automotive field through its Green Car Awards program over the past 14 years.

 

2019 GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

 

HONDA INSIGHT

2019 Honda InsightHonda's third-generation Insight sedan features an appealing and sophisticated design, loads of tech, and an advanced two-motor hybrid system that delivers an EPA estimated 55 highway mpg.


LEXUS ES 300h
2019-lexus-es-300hThe all-new Lexus ES 300h offers an eye-catching appearance and pleasing driving experience, with a fourth-generation hybrid system delivering a class-leading 44 combined mpg.

 

NISSAN ALTIMA

MY19 Nissan AltimaThe new-generation Nissan Altima has a more aggressive stance, advanced ProPILOT Assist, and greater efficiency with its turbocharged, variable compression four-cylinder engine.

 

TOYOTA AVALON HYBRID

2019-toyota-avalonToyota's new Avalon Hybrid is longer, lower, and more stylish, with high mpg and spirited driving delivered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and all-new Toyota Hybrid System II powertrain.

 

VOLKSWAGEN JETTA

2019-volkswagen-jettaBuilt on VW's MQB platform, the seventh-generation Jetta offers a bolder design, greater interior space, lots of tech, and a 1.4-liter turbocharged TSI engine netting up to 40 highway mpg.

Since its inception in 2006, the Green Car of the Year® has been selected by Green Car Journal editors and invited jurors from highly-respected efficiency and environmental organizations. This year's invited Green Car of the Year® jurors include celebrity auto enthusiast Jay Leno; Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, President and CEO of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and Board Member of Global Green USA; 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; Mindy Lubber, President of CERES; and Jason Hartke, President of the Alliance to Save Energy.

 

2019 LUXURY GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

 

AUDI e-tron

Audi e-tronThe new Audi e-tron crossover SUV is this automaker's first all-electric production model, combining a handsome design, all-wheel drive performance, and a range of well over 200 miles.

 

JAGUAR I-PACE

2019-jaguar-ipaceJaguar's first electric vehicle, the new I-PACE offers a pleasing and aggressive design, luxury appointments, exceptional driving characteristics, and a 240-mile all-electric driving range.

 

PORSCHE CAYENNE E-HYBRID

2019-porsche-cayenne-e-hybridThe Cayenne E-Hybrid is an all-new generation of Porsche's plug-in Cayenne model, featuring a 3.0-liter gas engine and 136 hp electric motor for exceptional performance and greater efficiency.

 

RANGE ROVER P400e

range-rover-side-plugged-in-1A new plug-in hybrid variant of the Range Rover SUV, the P400e combines the luxury of the standard model with efficiency achieved with a 2.0-liter gas engine and 114 hp electric motor.

 

TESLA MODEL 3

tesla-model-3Tesla's latest offering, the Model 3, is a stylish and high-tech sedan offering a signature Tesla look, lots of advanced technology, and an EPA estimated electric range of 210 to 310 miles.

 

2019 GREEN SUV OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

 

CADILLAC XT4

The 2019 XT4 was developed on an exclusive compact SUV architectThe Cadillac XT4 blends the functionality of a compact SUV, the sophistication of a Cadillac sedan, and the efficiency of turbocharged four-cylinder power in a stylish new model.

 

HYUNDAI KONA

2019-hyundai-konaHyundai's stylish Kona crossover SUV comes in two variations, one powered by efficient internal combustion power and the other an all-electric model that delivers 258 miles of electric range.

 

LEXUS UX

2019-lexus-ux-250hOffered in conventionally-powered UX 200 and hybrid UX 250h hybrid versions, Lexus' entry-level luxury model offers admirable efficiency in a functional, efficient, and compact form.

 

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVThe Outlander PHEV is Mitsubishi's new plug-in hybrid addition to its full-size SUV model, providing greater efficiency and AWD using a 2.0-liter gasoline engine and two electric motors.

 

VOLVO XC40

沃尔沃全新XC40外观The all-new XC40 compact SUV, the first model built on Volvo's Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), features a bold exterior, refined interior, and efficient four-cylinder Drive-E powertrain.

 

la-auto-show-logo-2018

2017-green-car-awards-washingtonFor a decade now, Green Car Journal has been presenting its Green Car Awards™ at the Washington Auto Show to recognize environmental achievement in the auto industry. The magazine’s most recent press conference during the 2017 Washington Auto Show’s second Policy Day found automakers honored for their efforts in three important categories. Named 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year™ was the Mercedes-Benz C350e, while the 2017 Green SUV of the Year™ was awarded to the BMW X5 xDrive40e and the 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ to Acura’s new NSX.

Along with the award winners, 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year™ finalists included the Audi A3 e-tron, Honda Civic, Tesla Model X, and Toyota Prius Prime. Also identified as 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ finalists were the BMW 740e xDrive, Jaguar XE 20d, Mercedes-Benz S550e, and Range Rover Td6, with 2017 Green SUV of the Year finalists including the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-9, Mercedes-Benz GLE550e, and Nissan Rogue Hybrid. All offered either plug-in, efficient diesel, or advanced internal combustion power and each featured admirable levels of environmental performance.

2017-connected-green-car-of-the-year-1The Mercedes-Benz C350e, Green Car Journal’s 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year, offers drivers the luxury and driving enjoyment expected of a premium sedan, with the added benefit of plug-in hybrid power. Its overall driving range of 410 miles means there are no compromises. An estimated 11 miles of zero-emission driving is provided on batteries at an EPA estimated 51 miles-per-gallon equivalent.

Drivers are well-connected with an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot and an array of advanced, connected features including location-based, real-time traffic information and route guidance. Driver assistance systems play a major role in the C320e with data from radar sensors and stereo cameras enabling autonomous and semi-autonomous features. Among its capabilities is helping avoid collisions with vehicles ahead and in cross traffic at intersections, even applying full emergency braking if needed. On board systems can maintain a set distance from a vehicle ahead, even in stop and go traffic. Steering inputs helps drivers stay in their lanes.

2017-green-suv-of-the-year-1Green Car Journal’s 2017 Green SUV of the Year, the BMW X5 xDrive40e iPerformance, combines the versatility and luxury of a full-size, five-passenger SUV with the driving confidence of intelligent all-wheel drive. It offers desired levels of functionality and convenience expected of a full-size SUV, while also addressing efficiency and use of electrification.

A 241 horsepower, 2.0- liter TwinPower turbo four-cylinder engine and 111 horsepower electric motor enabling this nearly 5,000 pound plug-in hybrid SUV to accelerate from 0-60 mph in under seven seconds. It can travel 14 miles under electric power alone with a total driving range of 540 miles. To enhance all-electric driving, intelligent connectivity constantly monitors all factors affecting range including traffic conditions, route profile, and driving. Route guidance functions include displaying public charging station locations on a navigation map.

2017-luxury-green-car-of-the-year-1Winning the 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year was achieved in style by the all-new NSX hybrid supercar. Promising the luxury of carving the perfect turn, riding on race-inspired suspension, and the exhilaration of breathtaking acceleration, the Acura NSX delivers the ultimate driving experience while also somehow netting some 31 percent better city mpg than the previous generation.

The NSX champions aerodynamics, hybrid drive, and lightweight materials like carbon fiber, SMC fiberglass, aluminum, and high-strength steel. Its mid-engine, twin-turbocharged V-6 connects to a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission integrated with a rear electric motor, with two additional electric motors powering the front wheels. The car’s 573 total system horsepower propels it from 0-60 mph in just 2.9 seconds. In a word, this hybrid supercar is ‘thrilling.’

mark-wallace-mercedes-green-car-awardsWinners and finalists for these three Green Car Awards are proof positive that it is no longer good enough to design and build vehicles with style, quality, functionality, and performance. It is necessary to do all this while also delivering much more, taking into account the need for highly-evolved models with improved efficiency, lower environmental impact, greater safety, and ever-expanding ways of connecting our lives and our vehicles to one another.

Hosting these Green Car Awards in Washington DC is appropriate considering the policies, regulations, and incentives that have historically come out of Washington DC that play a significant role in influencing the success and direction of lower emission, more efficient advanced technology vehicles. With its status as the largest public show in Washington and its proximity to the halls of power in the nation’s capital, the Washington Auto show is also the logical venue in Washington DC to honor environmental achievement in the auto industry.

 

green-car-awards-announcementFinalists for Green Car Journal’s 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year™, 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year™, and 2017 Green SUV of the Year™ awards were announced at the LA Auto Show’s AutoMobility LA™ event in Los Angeles. Each of the finalists for 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year™ offers advanced connectivity and driver assistance systems combined with admirable levels of environmental performance. The finalists are the Audi A3 e-tron, Honda Civic, Mercedes-Benz C350e, Tesla Model X, and Toyota Prius Prime. Four are plug-in vehicles while one is powered by efficient gasoline internal combustion.

In contention for 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ are the 2017 Acura NSX, BMW 740e xDrive iPerformance, Jaguar XE 20d, Mercedes-Benz S550e, and Range Rover Td6. This diverse group of premium ‘green’ finalists includes plug-in, hybrid, and advanced diesel vehicles. Also a diverse group, 2017 Green SUV of the Year™ finalists are efficient SUV and crossover models that achieve their efficiencies with plug-in, hybrid, and internal combustion power. Nominees include the BMW X5 xDrive40e iPerformance, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-9, Mercedes-Benz GLE550e, and Nissan Rogue Hybrid.

2017-washington-auto-show-logo-cropped-1Presented annually at The Washington Auto Show, the Green Car Awards™ honor the best-of-the-best in the important premium, connected, and SUV/crossover categories. Of particular importance is that these finalists achieve their environmental leadership in their own way. Hybrid power continues to be an important strategy in achieving greater environmental compatibility, along with plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and advanced gasoline and diesel propulsion.

The coordination of Green Car Awards™ announcements and joint exhibition of finalists is a significant new development between major auto shows on the auto show circuit. This milestone underscores the growing importance of “green” cars in the auto industry and how they are in turn creating synergies in complementary areas as well. Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year® has been a high-profile program at Los Angeles Auto Show’s press and trade days (now AutoMobility LA™) since 2005. Beginning in 2008, the Green Car Awards™ have been a key feature of The Washington Auto Show®, the “public policy show” on the auto show circuit that puts a priority on safety and sustainability. Award winners will be identified during a press conference on January 26 at The Washington Auto Show in Washington DC.

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PrintFor a decade, Green Car Journal has been recognizing vehicles that significantly raise the bar in environmental performance. With automakers stepping up to offer ever-more efficient and ‘greener’ vehicles in all classes, the magazine’s awards program has naturally expanded to include a greater number of awards for recognizing deserving vehicles.

This prompted the recent suite of Green Car Awards presented during Policy Day at the Washington Auto Show in the nation’s capital – the 2015 Green SUV of the Year™, 2015 Green Car Technology Award™, and 2015 Luxury Green Car of the Year™.

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BMW’s gull-wing i8 earned the distinction as the 2015 Luxury Green Car of the Year, outshining competitors Audi A8 L TDI, Cadillac ELR, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, and Tesla Model S. Aimed at aspirational buyers who value superb styling and exceptional performance combined with the efficiency of plug-in hybrid drive, the i8 is unique among its peers with an advanced carbon fiber passenger body shell. It also features a lightweight aluminum drive module with a gasoline engine, lithium-ion batteries, and electric motor. The i8 can drive on battery power for 22 miles and up to 310 miles on hybrid power.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel rose to the top as the magazine’s 2015 Green SUV of the Year, besting finalists Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, Lexus NX 300h, and Mazda CX-5. Offering excellent fuel efficiency for an SUV of its size, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 offers up to 30 highway mpg and is approved for B20 biodiesel use. An Eco Mode optimizes the 8-speed transmission’s shift schedule, cuts fuel feed while coasting, and directs the air suspension system to lower the vehicle at speed for aerodynamic efficiency.

jeep-grand-cherokee-ecodiesel-winnerThe Ford F-150 was honored with the 2015 Green Car Technology Award for its milestone use of an all-aluminum body. Competing for the award were advanced powertrains in the BMW i3, BMW i8, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Ford F-150, Honda Fit, Kia Soul EV, Tesla Model S, VW e-Golf, and Volvo Drive-E models. The F-150’s aluminum body enables the all-new 2015 pickup model to shed up to 700 pounds for greater efficiency and performance.

While the Green Car Technology Award has a history at the Washington Auto Show, the first-time Green SUV of the Year and Luxury Green Car of the Year awards could not have existed just a short time ago. Simply, SUVs and luxury vehicles were seldom considered ‘green,’ and for good reason. An SUV/crossover’s mission was to provide family transport and recreational capabilities, while aspirational/luxury vehicles were expected to deliver the finest driving experience combined with high-end appointments and exceptional design. Both categories held few environmental champions and ‘green’ was hardly an afterthought.

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The evolving nature of ‘green’ cars has brought about a fundamental shift in which environmental performance is now important in SUVs and luxury vehicles. Even so, not all models in these classes are created equal. The challenge has been finding the right balance – the ‘sweet spot’ – that finds SUVs and luxury vehicles delivering the efficiency and environmental qualities desired without sacrificing the conventional touchstones – quality, safety, luxury, value, performance and functionality – that consumers demand. This year’s winners of the 2015 Green Car Awards clearly achieve this balance.

Presenting these important awards at the Washington Auto Show is compelling considering its reputation as the ‘Policy Show,’ a result of the show’s proximity to Capitol Hill and the influence that Washington DC has in driving a more efficient generation of vehicles to market. The 2015 Washington Auto Show has also expanded in recent years, receiving accreditation from the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles (OICA) as one of the five top tier auto shows in America. This year’s Washington Auto Show featured more than 700 vehicles from over 42 domestic and import auto manufacturers, plus a Green Car Awards exhibit showcasing 15 finalist vehicles within the show’s Advanced Technology Superhighway exhibit area.

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Jeep's impressive Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, the model that just drove away with Green Car Journal's 2015 Green SUV of the Year award at the 2015 Washington Auto Show, is one SUV that's sure easy to like. At least that's what we kept thinking during a recent 500 mile trip in a Grand Cherokee Limited test vehicle.

While not a small vehicle by any means, the Grand Cherokee is easy to maneuver and, for a 4x4, offers a surprisingly accommodating ride. Plus, the EcoDiesel variant is very efficient as far as full-size SUVs go, delivering fuel economy that tracked well with its 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway EPA ratings. Long-time SUV drivers will surely share that this is amazingly efficient for a full-size, full capability Sport Utility Vehicle.

jeep-grand-cherokee-front-leadThose considering a Jeep Grand Cherokee have a mind-boggling number of choices in models, powertrains, and option packages, with the base model starting at $30,000 and uplevel trim packages ranging up to $64,500. Our Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel test vehicle offered a base price of $36,395 but landed closer to $50,000 with the added Luxury Group, Adventure Group, and Unconnect packages, the latter offering desired electronics like premium navigation, HD radio, and SiriusXM Traffic.

On-board electronics is a big deal in most models these days and the Grand Cherokee is no exception. Electronics is well-looked-after with standard fare like remote start, 7-inch multi-view display, rear back-up camera and back-up assist, ready alert braking, tire pressure monitoring, and integrated voice command with Bluetooth.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee AltitudeThe Luxury Group package in our test vehicle upgrades the display to an 8.4-inch touch screen and also adds features like self-leveling Bi-Xenon HID headlamps and automatic high-beam headlight control, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, and Napa leather ventilated seats.

While buyers have other V-6 and V-8 gasoline engine choices, those wanting the best fuel economy combined with maximum towing capacity will naturally opt for the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6. Rated at 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft torque, this powerhouse-of-an-engine is sufficient to tow 7,400 pounds and delivers welcome performance.

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In addition to the Grand Cherokee Limited we drove, the 50-state diesel is also available in Overland and Summit versions. With full-time four-wheel-drive like our test vehicle, the model’s EPA numbers are 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway/25 mpg combined fuel economy – high numbers for a large vehicle with this level of functionality. Another positive is the EcoDiesel’s range of up to 730 miles between fill-ups. We completed our considerable road trip without fueling up, a welcome experience.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s diesel engine is supplied by Italy's VM Motori and was developed in collaboration with Fiat Powertrain Technologies. While VM Motori has had many owners – Detroit Diesel, DaimlerChrysler, Penske, etc. – it is now a 50-50 joint venture between GM and Fiat. Over the years, virtually every auto manufacturer has used VM Motori diesel engines at one time or another.

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Fiat's MultiJet II common-rail injection, water-cooled exhaust-gas recirculation Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR), and 16.5:1 compression ratio enable the 24-valve, dual-overhead-cam engine to meet stringent Tier II, Bin 5 and ULEV II emissions rules. It is designed to use Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) and is approved for B20 (20 percent biodiesel/80 percent petrodiesel). Other features include a water-cooled, variable-geometry turbocharger, 60-degree cylinder banks, chain-driven camshafts, and low-voltage ceramic glow plugs for quicker cold-weather starts.

There is an Eco Mode to maximize economy by controlling items like transmission shift schedule, idle speed, and interactive deceleration fuel shut off, the latter cutting fuel feed when coasting. Eco Mode is automatically engaged at startup. A button on the center stack can be used to disengage Eco Model when more sporty performance is desired. While engaged, Eco Mode directs the Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension system to lower the vehicle at speeds above 55 mph, providing for better aerodynamic efficiency. On 4WD models in 4H, Eco Mode also alters the front-to-rear torque split to increase fuel economy.

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The model’s Selec-SpeedControl feature, which includes both Hill Ascent Control and Hill Descent Control, assists when ascending steep grades. Hill Descent Control helps monitor throttle, speed, and braking when traveling down a hill, while Hill Start Assist keeps brakes applied after removing your foot from the brake, allowing time to accelerate without rollback.

The 4x4 version gets Quadra-Trac II that offers all-speed traction control. An electronic limited-slip differential transfers up to 100 percent torque to the wheels when needed to lend year-round traction on wet or dry surfaces. As is the case with 4WD vehicles, shifting into low-range provides rock-crawling prowess.

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We returned from our journey impressed not only with this vehicle’s functionality in carrying people and cargo, but its ability to do so in comfort and style. Plus, of course, there’s the Grand Cherokee’s all-important efficiency and impressively long driving range between fill-ups.

Those who need a full-size SUV that can handle any mission with complete confidence, while doing so in ways that require far less fuel than one would reasonably expect, should consider placing the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel on their short list. Its efficiency, capabilities, and general do-everything attitude earned it Green Car Journal's 2015 Green SUV of the Year for these, and many other, very good reasons.