Mercedes-Benz Smart Electric Drive (59 points)
Claiming the title of “greenest of the green” this year is Mercedes-Benz’ shockingly diminutive Smart Electric Drive. Dubbed the Smart Fortwo EV upon its debut in 2007, the third-generation 2014 Smart ED is powered by a 17.6 kWh lithium-ion battery providing a range of up to 140 km (87 mi) between charges and a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph).
Toyota Prius C (57 points)
The 2014 Toyota Prius C (the C stands for “City”) is a full hybrid gasoline-electric subcompact hatchback that’s economical enough to turn its brother Priuses (Prii?) green with envy. This smaller, cheaper and even more fuel efficient Prius has been an unqualified success for Toyota: within two years of its Japanese launch in December 2011, the Toyota Aqua (as it’s known in Japan) has achieved 528,935 domestic market sales in plus a further 77,712 in the United States.
Nissan Leaf (55 points)
Nissan introduced the Leaf, a five-door hatchback electric vehicle, in December of 2010. Leaf stands for Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car while concurrently evoking an eco-friendly impression. Powered by a 24 kWh lithium ion battery linked to an 80 kW (110 hp), 280 N·m (210 ft·lb) synchronous motor, the all-electric, plug-in charged 2014 Nissan Leaf offers drivers a range of 135 km (84 mi) when fully charged. One of the Leaf’s (SL model) more innovative features is a small solar panel behind the roof spoiler that can trickle-charge the auxiliary battery.
Toyota Prius (55 points)
The poster kid for green vehicles and Larry David’s ride of choice, the Toyota Prius burst onto the automotive scene in 1997 and hasn’t looked back. Currently in its third generation, this full hybrid electric mid-size hatchback has sold more than three million worldwide and (in December of 2013) was named the “Best Value” in its class for the second year running.