A fully electric vehicle is the most environmentally friendly vehicle for the 2023 model year, which should come as no surprise. Since electric vehicles are consistently more environmentally friendly than internal combustion engines, it seems natural that all of the cars on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) Greenest List would run exclusively on battery power, wouldn’t it?
Contrary to expectation, the remaining vehicles on ACEEE’s top 10 list are hybrids powered primarily by gasoline but aided by electricity. It may seem counterintuitive, but these combinations can even surpass certain EVs in terms of their environmental footprint – when factors such as powertrain efficiency and weight come into play.
Leading the list, the electric MINI Cooper SE is hands down one of the top picks for 2023 with a green score of 67 and an EDX of $0.66 per mile. On the other hand, the environmentally least friendly model for 2023 in our top 10 is the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, with a green score of 63 and an EDX at a cost of $0.79 per mile.
It’s well-known that electric cars produce zero exhaust emissions, and hybrids and gas vehicles also boast impressive scores. However, the ACEEE’s ratings look beyond local carbon output when evaluating an automobile’s overall environmental effect. They consider energy sources, pollutants released during production, and how a car can be responsibly disposed of or recycled.
ACEEE compared three models with both conventionally-powered and fully electric versions to demonstrate how each performs with regard to the environment. Compared to its ICE-powered counterpart, the battery-powered MINI Cooper SE is predicted to cause 46% less environmental damage. An electric Volvo XC40 is estimated to be 30% more environmentally friendly than a gas/electric hybrid for example.
ACEEE’s top 10 greenest cars for 2023, with Green Scores and EDX cost estimates:
|1||MINI||Cooper SE||Full electric||67||$0.66 per mile|
|2||Nissan||Leaf||Full electric||67||$0.68 per mile|
|3||Mazda||MX-30||Full electric||67||$0.68 per mile|
|4||Toyota||bZ4X||Full electric||66||$0.69 per mile|
|5||Subaru||Solterra||Full electric||66||$0.69 per mile|
|6||Hyundai||Elantra Hybrid Blue||Hybrid||65||$0.73 per mile|
|7||Kia||Niro FE||Hybrid||63||$0.77 per mile|
|8||Toyota||Camry Hybrid||Hybrid||63||$0.77 per mile|
|9||Hyundai||Sonata Hybrid Blue||Hybrid||e||$0.78 per mile|
|10||Toyota||Corolla Hybrid||Hybrid||63||$0.79 per mile|
Note that the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, last year’s top-rated model, was redesigned for 2023 and released in late-2022.