With the first two “Green” vehicle of the year awards for 2016 handed out to domestic automakers, it seemed possible that a sweep could be in order; however, it will not happen as the five finalists for the Green SUV of the Year all come from foreign makers.
The Green Car Journal announced its five finalists and the platform is dominated by Asian automakers after the Ford and Chevrolet captured the Green Car and Truck of the Year awards earlier this year.
The Ford F-150 and Chevy Volt captured the first two honors the magazine hands out, but the move to build a green utility vehicle is important as crossovers sales continue to grow. The sport-ute finalists included the BMW X1 xDrive28i, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
“After years of focus on building more efficient and environmentally positive sedans and hatchbacks, a growing emphasis is now being placed on SUVs and crossover vehicles, one of the hottest segments in the auto market,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. “The Green SUV of the Year™ award recognizes this achievement.”
(Ford captures 2016 Green Truck of the Year with F-150. For more, Click Here.)
Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel earned top honors as the 2015 Green SUV of the Year last year. The five finalists didn’t engender any real surprises in the group, but the competition is a tough group to break out from and includes:
BMW X1 xDrive28i, which is the second-gen version of the compact crossover, puts out 228 horsepower from a 2.0-liter EfficientDynamics engine and eight-speed automatic transmission delivering an EPA estimated 32 highway mpg.
The new HR-V small crossover is built on the Fit platform, but with a longer wheelbase and larger exterior dimensions. It delivers 141 hp from a 1.8-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine offering up to 35 highway mpg. Like the Fit, it features Honda’s fold-flat second row “Magic Seat’ for interior versatility.
(For more on the Volt’s Green Car win, Click Here.)
The new Hyundai Tucson is longer, wider, and offers greater interior volume than the model that preceded it, yet it also achieves better fuel efficiency. While there are two engine offerings, it’s the new turbocharged 1.6-liter four cylinder putting 175 hp and getting 33 highway mpg in the Tucson Eco model that puts it up for consideration.
Mazda’s all-new CX-3 crossover relies on the full suite of SKYACTIV technologies to be among the most efficient in its class while developing 146 horsepower from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that achieves up to 35 highway mpg.
The Toyota RAV4 expands its offerings this year with a new all-wheel drive hybrid model. It’s powered by a 154 hp, 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with electric motors front and rear. This combination provides more power than the standard RAV4 plus increased efficiency, with EPA estimates of 34/31 city/highway mpg and 33 mpg combined.
(Hydrogen cars are just a dodge, declares top Tesla exec. Click Here for the story.)
The winner will be revealed in January at the Washington DC Auto Show. In addition to the Green SUV award, the magazine plans to name the 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year – captured by the BMW i8 last year – and the all-new and 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year that recognizes the vehicle that best integrates the advantages of connected technologies with environmental performance.