But do you need to spend a fortune to be environmentally friendly? Forbes.com doesn't think so, and they can prove it. Their analysts took the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) "Greenest Vehicles" list and cross-rated it with base MSRP's to determine the cars with the greatest environmental benefits for the money. In most cases, this of course also translates into the best fuel economy for the money, so consumers choosing these cars can feel good about being green while spending less green.
The ACEEE's "Green" ratings did not factor in car cost, but instead used data from factors such as tailpipe emissions, fuel economy, emissions made during vehicle manufacturing, and disposal impact. Each car was assigned a "Green Score," the highest rated being the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle with a Green Score of 58 (MSRP $29,000). The average among all models was 35, with the least green cars scoring around 17.
Thanks to Forbes factoring in vehicle cost to the ACEEE's green ratings, it's easy to choose a car that's as forgiving on the environment as it is on your wallet. All of Forbes' picks had a Green Score of 46 or higher, well above the average of 35, with price tags under $18,000, over $10,000 less than the ACEEE's greenest pick.
Commanding four slots in the list were models from Hyundai and Chevrolet. The Hyundai Accent and Hyundai Elantra had amongst the highest Green Scores and fuel economy ratings, and amongst the lowest MSRP, with the Accent in particular being the 2nd least expensive pick aside from the Smart ForTwo. The Chevrolet Sonic and Chevrolet Cruze also scored well in the list with impressive stats and price.
| Hyundai Accent|
Green Score 50
| Hyundai Elantra|
Green Score 49
| Chevrolet Sonic|
Green Score 49
Green Score 46
1. Smart ForTwo (MSRP $12,490, 34/38 mpg, Green Score 53)
2. Hyundai Accent (MSRP $12,545, 30/40 mpg, Green Score 50)
3. Ford Fiesta (MSRP $13,200, 29/39 mpg, Green Score 49)
4. Toyota Yaris (MSRP $14,115, 30/38 mpg, Green Score 50)
5. Chevrolet Sonic (MSRP $13,865, 29/40 mpg, Green Score 49)
6. Scion iQ (MSRP $15,265, 36/37 mpg, Green Score 52)
7. Kia Soul (MSRP $13,900, 27/35 mpg, Green Score 47)
8. Mazda2 (MSRP $14,350, 29/35 mpg, Green Score 49)
9. Ford Focus (MSRP $15,365, 28/40 mpg, Green Score 49)
10. Hyundai Elantra (MSRP $15,345, 29/40 mpg, Green Score 49)
11. Fiat 500 (MSRP $15,500, 27/34 mpg, Green Score 49)
12. Honda Fit (MSRP $15,175, 27/33 mpg, Green Score 47)
13. Scion xD (MSRP $15,345, 27/33 mpg, Green Score 46)
14. Honda Insight (MSRP $18,350, 41/44 mpg, Green Score 53)
15. Chevrolet Cruze (MSRP $16,800, 26/38 mpg, Green Score 46)