Green Car Journal has honored winners of its highly-anticipated 2018 Green Car Awards™ at the 2018 Washington Auto Show, capping off the final awards of the magazine’s 2018 award program that also included presentations at shows in Los Angeles and San Antonio, Texas. In Washington, the Cadillac CT6 Plug-In was recognized as 2018 Connected Green Car of the Year™, while the Kia Niro was named 2018 Green SUV of the Year™ and the Karma Revero as 2018 Luxury Green Car of the Year™. These three awards speak to the increasing attention automakers are placing on environmental performance in the important luxury, connected, and crossover/SUV markets.
The Connected Green Car of the Year™ award acknowledges advanced and environmentally positive vehicles with on-board systems that connect vehicle to driver, to the world, and to the road. For a growing number of drivers, this is becoming just as important as driving with a lighter environmental impact.
Cadillac’s CT6 Plug-In rose to the top amid finalists that included the BMW i3, Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model X, and Volvo S90 T8. The luxury plug-in hybrid sedan provides up to 31 miles of battery-electric driving and an overall range of 430 miles. It excels with its connectivity, driver assist systems, and on-board electronics. Driver assist systems include Forward and Reverse Automatic Braking that respond to an impending collision and apply brakes as needed, plus Pedestrian Braking. Adaptive Cruise Control automatically accelerates and brakes to maintain a driver-selected following distance to the vehicle ahead, while Lane Keep Assist gently steers the car if the system determines a driver is unintentionally leaving a lane. A head-up display and enhanced night vision are also provided.
Presenting a new and affordable option for those who seek the functionality of a small crossover with impressive levels of driving efficiency, the Kia Niro was selected as 2018 Green SUV of the Year™ over finalists Chevrolet Equinox, MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, Mazda CX-5, and Volvo XC60 T8. The Niro comes in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, with the hybrid delivering up to 52 city and 49 highway mpg. Although designed to be at the affordable end of the automotive spectrum, an impressive array of standard and available features is offered including a rearview camera and 7-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus driver assist technologies like blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and automatic emergency braking.
Honored as Green Car Journal’s 2018 Luxury Green Car of the Year™, the Karma Revero achieved this distinction in an impressive field of luxury vehicles that included the BMW 530e, Cadillac CT6 Plug-In, Lexus LS 500h, and Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. The Revero features a stunning design and the industry’s largest solar roof. The plug-in grand touring car is built on an aluminum spaceframe and powered by two high-power electric motors that deliver a combined 403 horsepower and satisfying levels of driving performance. This range extended luxury electric car drives 50 miles on battery power and 300 miles overall with electricity created on board by its engine-generator. Inside its comfortable and accommodating cabin, driver and passengers are treated to an elegant leather interior accented with reclaimed wood trim and the latest in high-tech displays and instrumentation.
These 2018 Green Car Awards™ winners and finalists reflect the expanding efforts being made by automakers worldwide to not only meet government and state mandates for more efficient and alternative fuel – in this case electrified – vehicles, but also their response to market forces that are demanding these vehicles. The result is a competitive automotive landscape that’s ‘greener’ than ever, something that bodes well for buyers seeking vehicles offering the driving performance and features they desire, with the added benefit of significantly improved environmental impact.
For 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.
The 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.
Green 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.
Winning 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.’
Winners 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.
Finalists 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.
Presented 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.
For the first time, Green Car Journal will announce finalists for the Washington Auto Show 2017 Green SUV of the Year™, Connected Green Car of the Year™, and Luxury Green Car of the Year™ awards at LA Auto Show’s AutoMobility LA, on November 17, 2016. Later in January, winners of the three awards will be presented in Washington D.C. at a press conference during the 2017 Washington Auto Show’s Policy/Media Day on January 26, 2017.
These awards recognize the best-of-the-best in three of the fastest-growing ‘green’ segments in the automotive field. Highlighting the full complement of finalists in Los Angeles and then announcing winners in Washington D.C. is ideally aligned. California is one of the most important ‘green’ car markets in the world while Washington DC is the epicenter of policies guiding vehicles to a more efficient and environmentally-positive future,
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 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.
Produced by the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association (WANADA), The Washington Auto Show is the largest public event in DC. As part of the show’s Policy Days, on January 24-25 the Washington Auto Show will present MobilityTalks International, a global discussion on the future of mobility regulation, harmonization, and smart cities. This will be followed by a Capitol Hill event, Ride and Drive with advanced technology vehicles at RFK Stadium, and Media Day at the Washington Convention Center on January 26. Public days at the show are from January 27 to February 5.
The Washington Auto Show is known for its impressive assemblage of new vehicle models and concepts plus specialty displays of advanced, specialty, and historic vehicles. Its proximity to the nation’s capital earns it the reputation as the auto show circuit’s ‘Policy Show,’ underscored with presentations by the Department of Energy, visits by members of Congress, and at times even the President. The show is also known for its focus on environmentally positive vehicles as host to Green Car Journal’s prestigious Green Car Awards™ program.
This year, Green Car Journal focused attention on three of the hottest categories of ‘green’ vehicles by announcing winners of its 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year™, Green SUV of the Year™, and Luxury Green Car of the Year™ awards. Making its debut at the Washington show, Connected Green Car of the Year™ recognizes vehicles that intelligently blend sophisticated connected technologies with advanced powertrains, materials, and design – all coming together to deliver driving enjoyment, efficiency, and enhanced safety with lower environmental impact.
New cars are becoming smarter and more autonomous, with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, automated parking, and other driver assist systems signaling that the age of the connected car has arrived. A growing array of 'green' models with connected technologies are on the market with many more coming soon. Best exemplifying the integration of environmental performance and connected technologies were this year's finalists Audi A3 e-tron, BMW 330e, Toyota Prius, and Volvo XC90 T8, and the car that emerged as the 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year, Chevrolet's all-new Malibu Hybrid.
An impressive EPA estimated 48 city/45 highway mpg combined with advanced on-board electronics and connectivity are hallmarks of the new Malibu Hybrid. The mid-size sedan comes standard with Chevrolet MyLink radio and an 8-inch diagonal color touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, rear vision camera, OnStar, and 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. That’s a lot of tech for a model that starts at an approachable $28,645. Available systems include low speed front automatic braking, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist. A unique Teen Driver feature actively encourages safe driving and allows parents to view stored information on how their teenagers drove the vehicle.
The popularity of crossovers and SUVs continues to surge, underscoring why it’s important they continue to evolve with improved environmental performance in mind – whether offering a smaller footprint for easier maneuverability and efficiency, or using advanced powertrains that eke the most from a gallon of fuel or incorporate hybrid power. These are the vehicles that 2016 Green SUV of the Year™ seeks to honor. Finalists this year included the BMW X1 xDrive 28i, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, and award winner Honda HR-V.
Based on the Honda Fit platform but substantially larger in all dimensions, the new HR-V compact crossover features coupe-like styling with SUV functionality that includes an interior volume rivaling that of some midsize SUVs with its second row seats folded. Powering the HR-V is the same 1.8-liter engine as the Honda Civic, delivering 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft torque while achieving up to 35 highway mpg. The HR-V offers many desired features combined with an approachable $19,215 price. Standard or available electronics include brake assist, electronic stability control, rear view camera, Bluetooth, tire pressure monitoring, and Honda LaneWatch. A 5 inch color LCD screen or 7-inch touchscreen display are offered.
Higher-end vehicles with ‘green’ attributes are gaining an increasing amount of attention from automakers. Buyers now have the ability to find more environmentally positive aspirational vehicles that feature the aesthetics of a sleek sedan, the excitement of a sports car, or the functionality of an SUV, combined with high efficiency or even plug-in hybrid power. Finalists for 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ illustrated this trend, including the BMW X5 xDrive40e, Lexus RX 450h, Mercedes-Benz C350e, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, and award winner Volvo XC90 T8.
Volvo's all-new XC90 T8, the industry's first seven passenger plug-in hybrid SUV, uses a 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E engine with a rear axle electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. This enables an overall 350 mile driving range and an all-electric range of about 17 miles. A 46 horsepower starter-generator motor located between the engine and transmission provides start-stop capability and additional power as needed. The XC90 T8 includes all of Volvo’s conventional safety systems plus items like lane departure warning, road sign information display, pedestrian and cyclist detection, pilot assist adaptive cruise control, and park assist with automatic parking. The $68,100 XC90 T8 is EPA rated at a combined 25 mpg and 54 MPGe on battery power.
For 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™.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Those 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.