“Greenest Vehicle of 2010” Title Goes to Honda’s Civic GX

Honda’s natural gas-powered Civic GX topped the list of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s “Greenest Vehicles of 2010” which was released earlier this week.

In second place was the Toyota Prius, followed by the Honda Civic hybrid in third place.

Also making the list were the Honda Insight, Honda FIT, Hyundai Accent Blue and Nissan Altima Hybrid.

Each vehicle was assigned a “Green Score” which took into consideration a number of factors including highway efficiency, fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions.

The ACEEE predicts that rising prices at the pump will cause U.S. consumers to consider many of the “green” vehicles featured on its list. The organization’s Web site places fuel prices across the U.S. above the $2.50 per gallon mark and speculates that the economic recovery will result in significantly higher prices at the pump in the months ahead.

Although the top positions were taken by hybrids and a natural gas-powered vehicle, the list also includes a number of small, fuel-efficient cars powered by conventional gasoline engines. The Smart Fortwo was ranked as the fourth “greenest” vehicle in the survey, and the Toyota Yaris and MINI Cooper ranked seventh and ninth respectively.

Despite advancements in the field of diesel engineering, diesel-powered vehicles did not fare well in the council’s survey. Although diesel engines deliver high scores for fuel-efficiency, they also produce much higher levels of NOx and other tailpipe particulates than gas-powered engines.

The council explains that the technologies needed to reduce diesel emissions like particulate filters, selective catalytic reduction and NOx absorbers, result in higher production costs which are passed on to consumers. The ACEEE claims that similarly equipped diesel vehicles can cost between $2,000 and $5,000 more than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Diesel vehicles also have a higher cost of ownership, with diesel fuel averaging about 50 cents more per gallon than gasoline. As a result, models like the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Jetta Sportwagen TDI failed to make the council’s top-12 list for 2009.

Ford Motor Company’s new Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid shared sixth position on the ACEEE’s list. The Fusion was named “Car of the Year” at the Detroit International Auto Show earlier this month and also took top honors as Motor Trend’s “2010 Car of the Year”.

General Motors Company also claimed two positions on the “Greenest Vehicles of 2010” list with its Chevrolet Cobalt XFE and Pontiac G5 XFE.

No Chrysler vehicles made the list.

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