The Greenest Cars of 2012

A newcomer has rolled onto the 2012 Greenest List, a ranking of new-model-year autos based on their fuel economy and tailpipe emissions as well as the environmental impacts from their manufacture and the techniques used to produce their fuel.

Now in the No. 1 spot: the subcompact Mitsubishi i-MIEV, a light lithium-ion powered electric car that recently debuted in the American market and bumped the previous champ, the Honda (NYSE:HMC) Civic Natural Gas, to the No. 2 spot.

The i-MIEV (Mitsubishi in-wheel-motor electric vehicle, shown at right) gets 3.8 miles per kilowatt hour (mpkWh) in the city and 2.9 mpkWh on the highway—or 126 miles-per-gallon equivalents (mpGe) in the city and 99 mpGe on the highway. In MpGe units, 33.7kWh of electric power is equivalent to one gallon of gasoline. The car ranges in price from $29,125 to $31,125.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas gets 27 miles per gallon in the city, 38 on the highway. It lists for $26,155.

No. 3 on the Greenest List is the Nissan Leaf, whose mpGe is 106 in the city and 92 on the highway. It’s available for $35,200 to $37,250.

The Toyota (NYSE:TM) Prius landed in the No. 4 spot, with 51 mpg I the city, 48 on the higway, and a price range from $24,000 to $29,805.

No. 5 is the Honda Insight, offering 40 mpg in the city and 43 on the highway. It costs from $18,350 to $21,815.

Smart GmbH’s Smart ForTwo Cabriolet/Coupe two-seater ranked No. 6, with 34 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway. It is among the least expensive of the vehicles on the list, with a price range of $12,490 to $17,690.

The Greenest List is compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit advocacy group. ACEEE ranked 12 vehicles in all for their greenness, but also compiled two other, related rankings: Greener Choices, which ranks the top 12 gasoline-powered vehicles, and the Meanest List, which identifies some of the biggest gas hogs and major emissions champs.

You can check out the entire Greenest List lineup and images of each vehicle by clicking here for a CNNMoney slide show of the ranking.


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