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New Book Ranks Greenest 2003 Cars and SUVs

Amid growing public interest in fuel efficiency and increasing concern about gas-guzzling SUVs, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has released its 2003 “Green Book: The Environmental Guide to Cars & Trucks.”

Recognized as the preeminent buyer's guide to environmentally friendly passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs, ACEEE's Green Book helps consumers compare vehicles on the basis of a "Green Score," a measure that incorporates fuel consumption and air pollution, including both unhealthy tailpipe emissions and the emissions of gases that cause global warming.

"Whether you are looking to buy a compact car, large car, pickup, minivan, or SUV, the Green Book takes the guesswork out of identifying which models are friendlier to the environment," says co-author James Kliesch, a Research Associate at ACEEE.

Using its Green Score ranking system, ACEEE's Green Book also reveals the year's "greenest" and "meanest" -- the 12 least polluting, most efficient vehicles, and the 12 worst. In addition, it identifies the top-ranking models in each vehicle class.

Topping the 2003 "greenest" list is Honda's hybrid gasoline-electric Insight, followed by Honda's natural gas-powered Civic GX and Toyota's electric RAV4 EV sport utility. Two mass-market-oriented hybrid gasoline-electric sedans, the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid, are next in line among the greenest vehicles of 2003. The Green Book notes that gasoline-powered vehicles have been steadily improving in terms of environmental performance, a fact reflected in this year's list: ten of the twelve greenest vehicles of the year can be fueled at the gas pump.

Although the list of "meanest" vehicles is topped by a pair of sports cars, it is the remainder of the list that illustrates a problem with this year's new vehicle fleet. "From an environmental standpoint, the Ferraris and other exotics aren't a big deal, as their sales are very limited," stated co-author John DeCicco, a senior fellow at Environmental Defense. "Of greater concern are the massive SUVs and pickup trucks, which not only have high emissions and consume a lot of fuel, but also are sold in large numbers."

ACEEE's Green Book identifies greener choices in a wide range of vehicle types. The "best-in-class" list includes larger vehicles, such as the more efficient versions of the Chrysler Voyager minivan, Ford F-150 pickup, and Toyota Highlander SUV. Sedans like the Chevrolet Impala and Honda Accord also score well in their classes.

"America's car buying decisions have significant energy, economic, and environmental impacts," noted Bill Prindle, Deputy Director of ACEEE. "If new car and light truck buyers chose the most efficient vehicles in each size class, we would slash the 2003 fleet's gasoline use by 20 percent, reducing gasoline costs by $3.7 billion and saving the average buyer $220 a year. And, of course, we would also cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our dependence on imported oil."

Along with its summary Green Scores, ACEEE's Green Book details each model's fuel economy, health-related pollution impacts, global warming emissions, and estimated fuel expenses. Additional highlights of the new edition include:
  • Advice on how to buy green when shopping for a new car or truck.
  • Details about today's gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, and a preview of hybrids coming to market in the near future.
  • Information on how advanced technologies are providing today's cars and trucks with improved environmental performance.
  • A summary of tomorrow's environmental designs, including advanced engine technologies, high-strength lightweight materials, and hydrogen fuel cells.
ACEEE has also updated, the companion Web site to ACEEE's Green Book. The site contains the year's "greenest," "meanest," and "best-in-class" lists, as well as consumer information on vehicles and the environment. Subscribers can search the website's interactive database (updated with new model releases throughout the year) and build custom lists for comparing vehicles. Monthly and annual subscriptions to the Web site are available at

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