The Automotive Science Group released its 2016 Automotive Performance Index study, highlighting the stark contrast in performance merits that differentiate conventional and alternatively powered cars and SUVs in 2016.
According to the study, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs), by and large, outperform their conventional combustion counterparts from a life-cycle environmental performance view. While conventional gasoline powered vehicles outperform alternatively powered vehicles from an economic performance view.
So wherein lies the balance between these competing priorities for new car buyers?
When comparing all 815 model year 2016 cars in North America in a head to head life-cycle assessment, ASG’s study did not find a single vehicle with a conventional combustion engine earning a place on ASG’s Best 20 Environmental Performance List. The all electric Nissan LEAF topped the list with the smallest life-cycle carbon footprint of any model year 2016 car.
Topping the Best 20 Economic Performance list was the 2016 Nissan Versa, holding claim to the lowest cost of ownership, but the Versa also landed at #26 in terms of environmental performance, and with a 49% environmental performance deficit when compared to the #1 LEAF. Only one vehicle with an advanced hybrid configuration made the Economic Performance List – the Toyota Prius c at #19.
When looking for the best balance of economic and environmental performance, ASG’s Best 20 All-Around Performance List found alternatively powered vehicles holding five positions – #1 Nissan LEAF, #2 Ford Focus Electric, #3 Toyota Prius c, #5 Toyota Prius Two Eco, and #14 General Motors Company’s Chevrolet Volt. All remaining 15 positions were held by vehicles with conventional powertrains. The highest ranking conventional car was the Chevrolet Spark coming in at #4, with an all-around performance score falling just 5% short of the #1 Nissan LEAF, which was named ASG’S Best All-Around Performance car of 2016.
When comparing all 567 SUVs head to head, only five of the nine SUVs with hybrid and PHEV configurations made ASG’s Best 20 Environmental Performance List (SUV), the remaining 15 places were held by SUVs with conventional powertrains. Topping the list was the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, with the smallest life-cycle carbon footprint of any model year 2016 SUV.
The 2016 Jeep Patriot held the lowest cost of ownership of all model year 2016 SUVs, topping ASG’s Best 20 Economic Performance List (SUV) for the fifth consecutive year. The list was rounded out by all conventional powertrains, with no hybrid, PHEV’s or diesel engines. Similarly, ASG’s Best All-Around Performance List (SUV) was dominated by conventional powertrains with the the RAV4 Hybrid as the only outlier. The 2016 Mazda CX-3 topped the list and was named ASG’s Best All-Around Performance SUV of 2016.