Green Car Journal has made an interesting five picks as its finalists for the annual Green Car of the Year Award. No electric cars have made the cut. Although that may seem odd, the truth is that compared to super-efficient gasoline powered cars electrics don’t save much fuel or reduce emissions nearly as much. Most are not even available in the bulk of the US and only a few can even scratch out more than 20,000 units per year volume – even with amazing financial incentives. The cars vying for the top spot are the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, Audi A6 diesel, BMW 328 diesel, and the Honda Accord.
Setting aside the fact that the BMW and Audi will barely sell any of their diesels in the US this year, let’s look at the emissions that these two 5 passenger cars emit per mile. At 297 and 349 grams per mile these two luxury cars are not really even close the top of the low emissions list in the US for liquid fueled cars. At their price point they will not outsell even their gasoline counterparts in their own lineup. The mid-size (some would say compact) BMW 328d does have great highway mileage and also combined mileage at 45 MPG highway and 37 MPG combined. The A6’s 38 MPG highway and 29 MPG combined are simply ho-hum in the green car world and are really about what a new Mazda 6 sedan or Honda Accord gasoline powered car gets. Are the BMW and Audi wonderful automobiles – yes. However, this is not the Wonderful Automobile of the Year Award is it? Both would cause quite a stir if chosen, so we should be aware of that possibility. After all, promoting one’s publication is really always goal number one.
The Accord is a fascinating choice. The hybrid simply rocks with 50 mpg highway. No 4 door sedan without a full electric drive can touch that. However, the base Accord with its gasoline engine may very well be the top selling car in its class –and it is a huge class. With its 30 mpg combined and 36 MPG highway it is going to save more gasoline and reduce emissions more than the Audi and BMW combined in the coming year. Some might argue that its reliability, dependability, and daily usefulness exceed both of those and it can be oh so close in terms of luxury – for a fraction of the price.
The Corolla should take the win. Its 42 MPG highway, 35 MPG combined fuel economy ratings in LE Eco form, and 300,000 unit per year sales volume overall make it an obvious choice over the Mazda 3 which is in the same class, but sells about a third of the volume of the Corolla – all the while getting lower mileage. Hopefully, the judges have driven the new 2014 Corolla and sat in the back seat. If they have it will be hard to understand why this car does not walk away with the top prize.