Home » The Greenest Car Of The Year Isn’t An EV, It’s A Plug-In Hybrid

The Greenest Car Of The Year Isn’t An EV, It’s A Plug-In Hybrid

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I’m not sure if you’re aware or if they stopped inviting you to the awards ceremonies because of the absolutely embarrassing scene you made at the Golden Globes when Paul Giamatti had to have you removed by security, but the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has announced their 2024 GreenerCars Ratings, and this year the highest-rated car isn’t a battery-electric car. Nope. It’s got a combustion motor in there – though also a battery, because it’s a plug-in hybrid! It was the Toyota Prius Prime! Holy crap!

So, what exactly does it mean for a car to be ranked highly on this list? What is it measuring, exactly? Well, this ranking attempts to be a full womb-to-tomb assessment of how much environmental impact a given car has over its life, including impacts from manufacturing, tailpipe emissions (if any), and probably how much you fart while driving it. Here’s how the ACEEE describes it:

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GreenerCars is an annual assessment of every new model in the U.S. light-duty vehicle market. It is based on a lifecycle assessment of the greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions from the production, use, and disposal of each vehicle. Unlike other evaluations of the health and environmental impact of vehicles that rely solely on fuel-efficiency, GreenerCars scores every vehicle on its entire impact and is the most effective way to compare gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. In addition to assessing the emissions from fuel burned in a vehicle’s engine, we assess the upstream emissions generated by electricity used by a vehicle, emissions produced when mining and processing minerals for batteries, and emissions from manufacturing vehicles and vehicle components. Green scores are generated for each model and can be used to assess how green a vehicle is.

Okay, that’s pretty comprehensive. Based on these assessments, the top 12 ranked vehicles consist of just over half (seven) battery EVs, two plug-in hybrids, and two gas-electric hybrids. Here’s their top 12 rankings:


“Where’s Tesla,” you ask? Though not among the greenest of the green cited above, you will find Tesla in the complete ratings with the Tesla Model Y Long Range receiving a Green Score of 57, sandwiched between the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Volvo C40 Recharge Twin.


Fully half of the cars on the Greenest list are also under $35,000, which, for a list of mostly EVs and hybrids, feels pretty significant. Also, the annual fuel cost for the Prius Prime is really quite low, $529, but I’m not certain how they determine the ratio of how often it gets plugged in versus how often it’s using the Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine.

One thing I appreciate about the ACEEE’s lists and ranking is that they have a category for non-battery EV cars that still scored well, but are for people who wanted something greener but don’t live in a place with a decent EV charging infrastructure, which is still a significant number of places:


Look at that, we even have some pickup trucks on the list here; the Hybrid Ford Maverick scores pretty well, at number 6, and I’m happy to see the cheapest car on these lists, the $17,955 Mitsubishi Mirage, also shows up.

Now, want to see what did the worst? Of course you do!



Unsurprisingly, almost all of the least green cars were expensive, premium models, save for more specialized off-road machines like the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Raptor R, or RAM 1500 TRX. The lowest green score was for the Mercedes-Benz AMC G63, with a score of 20 (the winning Prius Prime got 71 and the average was 43). I’m pretty sure this has to do with the fact – and, this may very well be a rumor – every AMG G63 rolls off the assembly line and immediately is driven over multiple nests of endangered Northern Striped Owls, then the car is backed up and driven through a few beaver dams, just to really drive the point home.

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Again, I have no supporting evidence, but I just thought you should be aware of the talk in the forests.

Also, this worst list includes an EV for the first time, the GMC Hummer EV, perhaps because that thing weighs as much as a small moon and has a battery the size of the county I was born in.


So, what’s the takeaway here? I think it’s that plug-in hybrids, like the now sleek-looking Prius Prime, are really excellent options, with their twin drivetrains leveraging one another’s strengths and compensating for weaknesses in a way that makes a lot of sense.

So, if a car’s overall lifespan-long impact on the environment – a place we all live in, it’s worth remembering – is important to you, then save your money and get a new Prius instead of going into centuries-long debt to buy that Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG.



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Marlin May
Marlin May
1 month ago

I can hear it now.
“Drill, baby, drill!”

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