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Spend Green to Drive Green

Green, Greener, Greenest

The Department of Energy’s list of greenest vehicles for 2012 models just came out, and while it features quite a few electric and quasi-electric powered vehicles, there are still plenty of “normal” eco-friendly vehicles for buyers to choose from.

A bit of a controversy still exists as to which vehicle is actually the greenest. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the Nissan Leaf led the class of 2011, while had the Honda Civic GX CNG at the top of the green leader board tied with the Leaf.

GreenerCars has the Chevy Cruze Eco ahead of the Volt, while the DOE has that order reversed. Both sites’ rankings account for carbon footprint and score for energy impact. In my own recent testing of both vehicles, I gave the top nod to the Cruze Eco over the Volt since my lifestyle did not allow for constant recharging of the Volt –- those with charging stations or outlets at their beckon call would have reversed results.

Some vehicles have not even made the government or third-party lists due to their low sales volume or esoteric nature. These include the electric Tesla and Fisker models as well as the new smart fortwo electric drive and the Ford/Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric. In a perfect world with EVs being charged during the low-peak periods and using alternative energy sources such as wind or solar, this class vehicle would lead the list of greenest cars, and my list below of the 10 Greenest Vehicles reflects that.