America's Greenest Cars Still Aren't American

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
america s greenest cars still aren t american

Producing the most fuel-sipping cars will have no impact on environment or oil reserves unless people buy those cars and carmakers sell them. This should be a truism, but too often it is ignored. Some cars are built with green halos, but with little regard for marketability. Who’s cars really are the greenest?

Not much has changed since last time we looked at TrueCar’s TrueMPG ranking. This is a sales-weighted ranking that tracks the MPGs of the cars that actually get sold, including engine size and drivetrain that affect a vehicle’s MPG ratings.

Average TrueMPGManufacturerAug-12Aug-11YoY %Hyundai28.126.21.9Volkswagen26.625.21.4Honda24.923.91.0Toyota24.523.31.2Nissan23.922.81.1Industry23.221.71.5Ford22.020.41.6GM21.620.41.2Chrysler19.919.30.6

Overall, the industry gained a mile and a half over August a year ago. The market share of small cars and smaller SUVs is up, which lifts the rating. Detroit does not look good on that scale. Ford is the best-looking of the top seven manufacturers, it also delivered an impressive 1.6 mile improvement. Hyundai is far ahead of the field and delivered the best overall improvement.

Average Car TrueMPGManufacturerAug-12Jul-11YoY %Hyundai30.028.21.7Toyota30.027.52.6Volkswagen27.826.61.2Honda27.827.50.3Industry27.225.31.9Nissan27.125.51.7Ford26.425.21.1GM25.723.62.2Chrysler23.623.00.7

Looking at cars alone, Hyundai and Toyota are even, with Toyota having the most impressive improvement. Detroit is at the bottom.

Average Truck TrueMPGManufacturerAug-12Aug-11YoY %Hyundai23.723.50.2Honda22.320.91.4Volkswagen21.821.00.8Nissan20.119.70.4Ford20.018.41.6Industry19.819.00.8Toyota19.218.80.5GM19.018.60.4Chrysler18.317.90.4

Do I hear “But this is unfair?” Detroit is heavy with trucks, and they use more gas. Well, they do.

When looking at trucks alone, GM and Chrysler are at the bottom of the field, with Toyota taking third. Ford has an impressive showing with two notches over the industry average. However, even with trucks, Hyundai reigns supreme.

TrueMPG by BrandBrandAug-12Jul-12Aug-11YoY%MoM%smart35.735.736.2-0.50.0Fiat32.132.032.5-0.40.1MINI30.030.030.3-0.30.0Hyundai28.328. Rover15.117.814.30.9-2.6

Looking at it by brand gives this picture. If you want it broken out in different ways, head on over to the TrueCar site. If you want it broken out in ways TrueCar does not supply, I’m sure that for a nominal fee of $50,000 to $100,000 per report, it might be possible to supply the data.

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4 of 20 comments
  • Mark MacInnis Mark MacInnis on Sep 12, 2012

    WFT is going on with all the Green slanted stories. Did TTAC management get a report which says they are missing out on the Liberal net surfers because gas MPG is under-represented in their reportage? So this week, we get bombarded with stories about Volts, Pria, green cars, etc., Ad Nauseum. Yer makin' me want to puke. Please do a story on ANYTHING with a big-as-Billy-be-damned V-8. Us gearheads out here are in withdrawal, dammit.

    • See 1 previous
    • Derek Kreindler Derek Kreindler on Sep 12, 2012

      Mark, As per TTAC comment policy, please refrain from telling us what not to write. We do not control the way events unfold in the world.

  • Danio3834 Danio3834 on Sep 12, 2012

    This is just silly. Of course the EPA lumps them together for simplicity, but anyone with any sense can see that a Korean compact car-based SUV and a full size American pickup are not comparable vehicles. We should really be striving for better accuracy or at least an attempt at accurately explaining the numbers. If your local paper picked up the story as is, your avearage Jane/Joe would really get a skewed idea.

  • Dukeisduke Meanwhile, the Automotive Alliance for Innovation, that represents the Big 3, blasted NHTSA's CAFE proposal, stating it "exceeds maximum feasibility", and will cost the automakers $14b in fines between 2027 and 2032.NHTSA's reaction: Lol, just build more EVs, you silly gooses.What happens if consumers revolt, won't buy EVs, and hold on to their old cars instead?
  • Dukeisduke Another good reason not to buy a BMW.
  • Dukeisduke How about a Lightning McQueen Edition? I'm surprised you couldn't think of that one.
  • Zang You just proved me right lol. dont worry, outside ttac people dont value your opinion either.
  • Fred Mean while, 2 people dies last night because of DUI Just saying EDIT: Just saw that id a woman whose Tesla crashed into a pole, but she was driving.