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Published: Mar 01, 2024 4 min read
Digital generated image of grass and flowers growing inside car's interior. Sustainability and futuristic car concept.
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The greenest new car you can buy isn’t a fully electric vehicle — it’s a plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius.

Despite having a gas engine, the Toyota Prius Prime SE is apparently better for the environment than many fully electric vehicles.

That's according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) that ranks 2024 model year cars based on a “green score” that assesses the emissions and pollution of a vehicle. In addition to the emissions from driving the vehicle, the scores also factor in emissions from the production of the vehicle.

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Plug-in Toyota Prius: greenest car you can buy

When the first Toyota Prius models came out more than 20 years ago, they were some of the most fuel-efficient mass market cars in the U.S. Even though the spotlight has shifted to EVs, the Prius remains one of the best options for car shoppers whose top priority is the environment.

There are several different Toyota Prius models on the market today. The traditional hybrid Prius, which runs on gas and gets over 55 mpg, is the greenest car available that uses traditional fuel as its sole power source, according to the ACEEE report.

The Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid vehicle that comes with a gas-powered engine and can also be driven for a limited number of miles on electric power. Even though drivers need to fill it up with gas (at least for longer drives), the vehicle still manages to beat out all fully electric vehicles in the greenest cars rankings for 2024.

The Prius Prime has a driving range of only about 44 miles on pure electric power, but the relatively small battery size is actually an advantage in some ways because it means there’s less environmental impact from manufacturing it. And depending on your lifestyle, 44 miles could cover most of your daily driving.

The vehicle also ranks highly in terms of environmental-friendliness due to its lighter weight, body shape and advanced technology, ACEEE experts told the Washington Post.

After the Prius, the next four of the top five cars are fully electric vehicles. Here's the ACEEE's list of the greenest cars:

Greenest cars overall

  1. Toyota Prius Prime SE (PHEV)
  2. Lexus RZ 300e (EV)
  3. Mini Cooper SE (EV)
  4. Nissan Leaf (EV)
  5. Toyota bZ4X (EV)
  6. Toyota RAV4 Prime (PHEV)
  7. Hyundai Elantra Blue (Hybrid)
  8. Hyundai Kona Electric (EV)
  9. Toyota Camry LE (Hybrid)
  10. Kia EV6 (EV)

Greenest cars that use gas

  1. Toyota Prius
  2. Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue
  3. Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
  4. Honda Accord Hybrid
  5. Toyota Corolla Hybrid
  6. Kia Niro FE
  7. Honda Sonata Hybrid
  8. Mitsubishi Mirage
  9. Lexus ES 300h
  10. Honda CR-V FWD

Note: This list excludes PHEVs, which run partially on battery power and also have gas engines.

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