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Green car of the year finalists chosen

Fri, 18 Oct 2013

Green Car Journal named its top-five green cars for 2014 on Thursday, tapping the Audi A6 TDI, BMW 328d, Mazda 3 hatchback, Honda Accord and the new Toyota Corolla as its finalists. The winner will be announced at the LA Auto Show.

Green Car likes the Audi A6 TDI due to its unexpected performance in a high-efficiency vehicle. The midsizer works with a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbodiesel making 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. It has an EPA-estimated rating of 38 mpg on the expressway, while its off-the-line speed is also impressive.


We loved the BMW 330d when it was in our fleet. It only had about 265 hp but more than 400 lb-ft of torque. The 328d doesn't carry that much power, but still puts down a respectable 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of twist. It's rated at 45 mpg on the freeway and is offered in both rear- and all-wheel drive.

The Honda Accord isn't exactly notable for its looks, but it does bring an acceptable amount of grunt with the V6, which is rated at 34 mpg on the highway. The four-cylinder unit improves that to 36, the hybrid goes to 46, and the plug-in is rated 115 mpg-e combined but costs almost $40,000.

The Mazda 3 hatchback entered its third generation this year. When equipped with the 2.0-liter four, it returns 41 mpg on the highway while somehow being fun to drive, as well. It's also a pretty good looking econobox.

Last on Green Car's list is the new Corolla. It works with a 1.8-liter four that makes 140 hp and returns 42 mpg on the highway. A selectable eco mode turns up the efficiency wick and turns down the fun. (Editor's Note: In fairness to Toyota, we haven't had this car in the fleet yet, but an eco button always turns down the fun.)

For our part, we've got a few favorites of our own -- though they're not necessarily new for 2014.

The Volkswagen Golf TDI, for instance, makes 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, all while returning 42 mpg on the highway. The Golf is a blast in traffic with loads of pickup and can carry a decent amount of stuff with the back seats folded down. Add that to its near-$25,000 base price, and we have a winner.

Next we'd take the Chevy Cruze diesel. This is another upscale-feeling sedan that has the guts to get up and go when needed. The 2.0-liter delivers 151 hp and a solid 264 lb-ft of torque. It hits near $25,000, as well.

Finally, you can't have a green-car list without the tire-smoking Tesla Model S. This plug-in goes from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has an all-electric range of 300 miles, according to the company. If you need your green car to dominate at stoplights, the Model S is your only choice.

If you think we missed something, let us know in the comments.

By Jake Lingeman