Special Report

The Most Efficient Cars on the Market

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Sales of electric cars, including plug-in and hybrid cars, broke all kinds of records in 2021 – globally and domestically. The trend has continued in 2022, with electric vehicles outpacing other segments. Interestingly, however, only four of the 12 greenest cars are full electric vehicles. The rest are either plug-in hybrids or gasoline hybrids, based on a ranking by GreenerCars.com.

To find the 12 most eco-friendly cars in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed GreenerCars ratings of 2022 model year cars. Greenercars.org is part of the nonprofit research organization American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. To avoid repetition, only the highest-scored model for each car is included. All data comes from greenercars.org except for combined MPG, which comes from the Environmental Protection Agency’s fueleconomy.gov site.

There has been a shift toward larger and heavier EVs that are less environmentally friendly, according to this year’s GreenerCars ratings. Of the eight hybrid vehicles on the list, five are gasoline hybrids. This is an increase from the previous  year. Gasoline hybrids combine a small gasoline engine with an electric motor that uses energy stored in batteries. The batteries capture  energy from regenerative braking and the combustion engine to improve the vehicle’s overall efficiency. (Find out if any are among the cars that have been completely redesigned for 2023.)

The four EV cars on the list are made by MINI, Nissan, Mazda, and Tesla Motors. Three of the previous top EVs – Hyundai Ioniq electric, BMW i3s, and Kia Soul electric – are no longer sold in the United States, according to GreenCars.com.

The automobile Industry continues to deal with cars and parts shortages from the disruption or the supply chain caused by the pandemic. The Biden administration announced a goal for EVs to capture 50% of new sales by 2030. Globally, EV sales accounted for 8.3% of all sales in 2021. (Also see, the 15 cars that hold value the longest.)

Click here to see the most efficient cars on the market.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

12. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Blue
> Greener Score: 63 out of 100
> Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
> Fuel economy: 52 combined MPG (50 city, 54 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $4,500

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11. Tesla Motors Model Y RWD
> Greener Score: 63 out of 100
> Powertrain: EV
> Fuel economy: 129 combined MPGe (140 city, 119 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $6,750

10. Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
> Greener Score: 63 out of 100
> Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
> Fuel economy: 52 combined MPG (51 city, 53 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $4,500

9. Honda Insight
> Greener Score: 64 out of 100
> Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
> Fuel economy: 52 combined MPG (55 city, 49 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $4,500

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8. Toyota Corolla Hybrid
> Greener Score: 64 out of 100
> Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
> Fuel economy: 52 combined MPG (54 city, 54 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $4,500

7. Mazda MX-30
> Greener Score: 65 out of 100
> Powertrain: EV
> Fuel economy: 92 combined MPGe (98 city, 85 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $5,750

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6. Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue
> Greener Score: 65 out of 100
> Powertrain: Gasoline hybrid
> Fuel economy: 54 combined MPG (53 city, 56 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $4,500

5. Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
> Greener Score: 65 out of 100
> Powertrain: Plug-in hybrid
> Fuel economy: 105 combined MPGe, 46 combined MPG (113 / 48 city, 100 / 44 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $5,000

4. Nissan Leaf
> Greener Score: 67 out of 100
> Powertrain: EV
> Fuel economy: 111 combined MPGe (123 city, 99 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $6,250

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3. Mini Cooper SE Hardtop 2 Door
> Greener Score: 67 out of 100
> Powertrain: EV
> Fuel economy: 110 combined MPGe (119 city, 100 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $6,250

2. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid
> Greener Score: 68 out of 100
> Powertrain: Plug-in hybrid
> Fuel economy: 119 combined MPGe, 52 combined MPG (123 / 52 city, 119 / 51 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $5,750

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1. Toyota Prius Prime
> Greener Score: 69 out of 100
> Powertrain: Plug-in hybrid
> Fuel economy: 133 combined MPGe, 54 combined MPG (144 / 55 city, 121 / 54 highway)
> 5-year savings in fuel cost: $5,750

Methodology

To find the 12 most eco-friendly cars in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed greenercars.org ratings of 2022 model year cars. Greenercars.org is part of the nonprofit research organization American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). To avoid repetition, only the highest scored model for each car is included.

The organization determines its ratings based on fuel economy and emissions results from different sources as well as estimated pollution from vehicle manufacturing, from the production and distribution of fuel and from vehicle tailpipes. The combined emissions estimate factors into a Green Score that runs on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being least polluted.

Fuel economy and five-year savings in fuel costs for each vehicle came from the Environmental Protection Agency’s fueleconomy.gov site. MPG figures for city and highway for each car came from greenercars.org and were converted to MPGe from miles per kilowatt-hour for electric operation. One MPGe is comparable to 33.7 miles per kilowatt hour.

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