Every year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Green Car Journal declares one vehicle the “Green Car of the Year.” The Green Car of the Year award is given to the production vehicle that’s made the most environmentally-friendly advancements in the last year. The winner is selected by a panel of 11 automotive experts, environmental advocates, and sometimes a celebrity attendee like Mario Andretti, Carroll Shelby, or Jay Leno. Last year the award went to the Honda Civic GX Natural Gas, and in 2011 the Chevy Volt Plug-In Hybrid took home the prize.
This year’s L.A. Auto Show is scheduled to take place between November 30th and December 9th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Green Car Journal says they will announce the winner at the show’s Sneak Preview Night on Thursday November, 29th. In the running for the award this year are the Dodge Dart Aero, Ford’s C-MAX, the Toyota Prius C, Mazda’s CX-5 SkyActiv, and the Ford Fusion.
Dodge Dart Aero
Like the Mazda CX-5 SkyActive, the Dodge Dart Aero is powered by a traditional internal combustion engine instead of the hybrid gas-electric or all electric powertrains of the other nominees. However, like all of the vehicles in contention for the award, the Dart Aero is extremely fuel efficient. The compact car has a starting MSRP of $19,295 and gets 41mpg with a manual transmission and 40mpg with an automatic. Powered by a 1.4L with MultiAir Turbo, the small Dodge boasts aerodynamic features like a low profile, grille shutters and low resistance tires.
Mazda CX-5 SkyActiv
The only crossover on the list, Mazda’s CX-5 SkyActiv has an internal combustion engine like the Dodge Dart Aero. However, because of its size, it is predictably less fuel efficient. The 26/32mpg city/highway fuel economy of the CX-5 SkyActiv make it the least fuel efficient nominee. However, the lightweight structural parts Mazda used to build the crossover and the advanced direct injection engine the Japanese automaker equipped it with—might inspire some judges to overlook its relatively low fuel economy.
The first hybrid to directly challenge Toyota’s Prius, specifically the larger Prius v, the Ford C-MAX arrived in dealerships just last month. Since then, automotive journalists have been arguing that it doesn’t just compete with the Prius, but that it actually beats the Prius. Their arguments center around the C-MAX’s superior fuel economy compared to the large Prius, its refreshing style, and its roomier cabin and expanded cargo space.
Toyota Prius c
Though the Prius Hybrid has been with us for quite some time, Toyota decided to expand the model into an entire line for 2012. The now third generation hybrid was joined by a larger Prius v, an all-electric Prius Plug-in, and the smaller Prius c. According to the automaker, the “c” stands for city where the tiny hybrid is supposed to feel especially at home. The Prius c has both the lowest MSRP of the nominated vehicles at $18,950 and the highest fuel efficiency. The EPA certified the “c” at an impressive 53mpg in the city and 46mpg on the highway.
2013 marks the 8th year the Fusion has been a part of Ford’s lineup and the 4th year the model is offered with a hybrid powertrain. Not only did the Fusion undergo a serious change-of-face for the 2013 model year, its engine saw significant improvements as well. At 47mpg both in the city and on the highway, the large sedan gets over 20% better gas mileage this year than in previous years. On another note, Ford will offer an all-electric plug-in Fusion called the Fusion Energi early in 2013.