Ever Green: Group finds more electric vehicles, rising number of domestic models among its list of fuel-efficient cars

Two-seater subcompact Smart ForTwo Electric Drive topped the charts of greenest vehicles (Provided).

America’s greenest car, according to a national council promoting moderated energy use, seats two and is affiliated with Mercedes-Benz.

At the same time, a Lexus made the list of low fuel models, and the latest Ford F-150 full-sized pickup captured a spot as a “greener” model.

For the 18th year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy this month released its “comprehensive environmental ratings” for vehicles.

The nonprofit, which can be found online at greenercars.org, compiled three lists. They are the most fuel-savvy “greenest” vehicles, “greener” models that are more widely distributed and the gas guzzling “meanest” brands.

Also this year, the council said it would start offering free access to ratings for all vehicles dating back to model year 2000.

Ranked first is the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Convertible/Coupe with the highest ever recorded score, according to the council. Smart operates as a Mercedes-Benz subsidiary.

Plug-in electric vehicles claimed half of the 12 places in this year’s “greenest” list. Plug-in EVs also consist of the Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500E, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid and Ford Focus Electric.

“As the electric vehicle market continues to develop, we’re seeing a number of different options from a variety of automakers, including several from American manufacturers,” said Shruti Vaidyanathan, the council’s lead vehicle analyst.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas vehicle also landed on the greenest compilation along with four gas-electric hybrids. The only “conventional” model was the Mitsubishi Mirage.

The council considers two vehicles on the greenest list as mid-size: the Nissan Leaf and Prius Plug-in, “indicating that green need not mean small.”

A “diverse array” of manufacturers were represented among the top 12 greenest vehicles, according to the fuel-efficiency promoter.

Nine companies had at least one car on the list. Chevrolet and Ford were represented as American manufacturers, and Smart and Volkswagen were the two European carmakers.

Meanwhile, the council also compiled a “greener” list to take into consideration that many of the greenest vehicles aren’t offered in every state, and that larger cars and trucks are left off. “Hence greenercars.org also identifies practical options among the top widely available, automatic transmission, petroleum-fueled models,” the researcher and advocacy group said.

“Greener Choices” includes trucks and SUVs — notably the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Trax and Nissan Quest. The gas-powered Chevrolet Spark and Honda Fit also landed on the list.

According to the council, consumers “can make greener choices whatever their vehicle needs may be.”

Greenercars.org tweaked its grading system for 2015, providing not only “green scores” for electric vehicles based on a national average but also — through a downloadable spreadsheet — a way to calculate EV scores by region and determine annual fuel cost estimates using regional electricity prices.

“How green your electric vehicle is has a lot to do with where you plug it in,” Vaidyanathan said. “A car that is charged using electricity generated from natural gas or renewables is going to have significantly less impact on the environment than one charged on a coal-heavy grid,” he said.

Green Scores of the more than 1,000 configurations of all model year 2015 vehicles are available for free in the greenercars.org interactive database.

For more information, visit www.greenercars.org or www.aceee.org.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.

1. Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Convertible/Coupe

2. Chevrolet Spark EV

3. Fiat 500E

4. Toyota Prius C

5. Nissan Leaf

6. Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

7. Lexus CT 200H

8. Honda Civic Hybrid

9. Honda Civic Natural Gas

10. Mitsubishi Mirage

11. Ford Focus Electric

12. Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

1. Toyota Prius C

2. Toyota Prius

3. Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Convertible/Coupe

4. Honda Fit

5. Toyota Prius V

6. Chevrolet Spark

7. Ford C-Max Hybrid

8. Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

9. Chevrolet Trax

10. Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon

11. Nissan Quest

12. Ford F-150