The Honda Civic GX, a limited-production natural-gas-fueled sedan, won top honors for the most environmentally friendly passenger car of 2005, according to a study to be released today by the Washington-based American Council on an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The Civic GX, which at 34 miles per gallon is less fuel-efficient than most gas-electric-powered hybrids, outscored all four hybrids sold in the U.S. because it has cleaner tailpipe emissions than any vehicle that burns gasoline, said study author James Kliesch.
The natural-gas Civic scored 57 points on the group's 100-point scale. The two-seat Honda Insight hybrid, which has limited appeal because of its small size, was ranked second, with 56 points.
Among mass-production vehicles, Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius hybrid, Honda Motor Co.'s Civic hybrid and a conventional gasoline model of the Toyota Corolla rounded out the top five.
Ford and Pontiac were the only domestic brands with models included in the study's top dozen cleanest vehicles.
The economic council's Green Book (www.greenercars.com) rates 462 passenger vehicle models available to consumers for the 2005 model year.
"Green scores" are assigned based on federal fuel economy estimates, average annual fuel costs and California or federal emissions ratings, along with an industry average for pollutants from manufacturing and pollution-related public health costs.
Ford Motor Co., under fire from environmentalists because of its overall poor fuel economy performance, is turning down the heat a bit with its Escape hybrid sport utility vehicle.
The Ford hybrid is the first SUV to appear on the key listing of the nation's greenest vehicles. It was ranked 11th.
In addition, the list includes Ford's Focus, equipped with the company's 2-liter, four-cylinder gas engine, in 12th place.
The 1.8-liter, four-cylinder version of General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac Vibe sport wagon tied with its Toyota Matrix twin for ninth place.
The least environmentally sensitive vehicle, with just 11 points, was DaimlerChrysler's new Dodge Ram SRT10, a high-performance pickup truck powered by a 10-cylinder gas engine. It has an EPA fuel economy rating of 9 miles per gallon in the city and 12 on the highway.
Kliesch said that with two new hybrid SUVs from Toyota hitting the market this year and several other manufacturers promising hybrid models by 2008, future green lists were likely to be dominated by hybrids.