AUTOMOTIVE SCIENCE NEWS

New Study Names Best Cars and SUVs of 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

9 March 2017 [Santa Rosa, CA] – In anticipation of a Trump EPA proposal that could roll-back fuel economy standards, the Automotive Science Group (ASG) released its 2017 Automotive Performance Index (API) Study findings today, revealing some irony in the new EPA deliberation. A Trump roll-back may be little too late. 

With new vehicles hitting the market in 2017 that reveal the industry’s true capabilities to reach aggressive fuel economy targets, and remain price competitive, actions that slash fuel economy targets will not dissuade consumers from demanding more of what they really want. They want it all, and in this hyper-competitive automotive landscape, innovation will trump deregulation.

Innovation is live and well in the 2017 automotive marketplace, as ASG releases its 2017 Study findings today. According to the Study, advanced powertrains are not only available to the masses in record numbers in 2017, and with exceptional environmental performance, but the true innovators actually break from the pack this year to offer industry leading economic performance and best all-around value in the market. ASG’s data-driven assessment suggests that automakers already have the technical capabilities to meet the Obama era fleet efficiency standards by 2025. Case in point – the all-new 2017 Kia Niro crossover with 51 MPG combined (city/highway) and with a starting MSRP at $22,890. The all-new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (NYSE: FCAU) Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, with 84 MPGe, also reveals new possibilities for large vehicle segments. Innovative offerings are here in 2017, and they are not only here to stay, they are the new industry benchmark.

A word of caution however, striking the balance between environmental and economic performance across the North American fleet is still in transition. When comparing all 805 (trim variants) model year 2017 cars in North America in a head to head environmental assessment, ASG’s Study found only one standout model with a conventional combustion engine earning a position on ASG’s Environmental Performance Index – the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage. The remaining positions on the Index were held by hybrids, PHEV and EVs. Toyota Motor Corp’s (NYSE: TM) Prius Prime PHEV topped the Index with the smallest carbon footprint of any model year 2017 car, besting the all electric #2 Nissan Leaf, #3 General Motors Company’s (NYSE:GM) Chevrolet Bolt and #4 Ford Motor Company’s (NYSE:F) Focus Electric. The Study findings reveal that these advanced powertrains offset increased production impacts within the first 6.5 years of vehicle operation, or 87,594 vehicle miles traveled. It also reveals that advanced powertrains are largely responsible for leading significant fuel economy gains in 2017.

Topping ASG’s Economic Performance Index was the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage, holding claim to the lowest cost of ownership and best economic performance of any model year 2017 car in the North American market. The remaining 19 positions on the Index were also held by conventional combustion powered cars. The best performing advanced hybrid configuration was the Toyota Prius at #34, albeit with an economic performance deficit of 32%, as compared to the #1 Mirage. 

When looking for the best balance of environmental and economic considerations, ASG’s All-Around Performance Index found alternatively powered vehicles holding seven positions – #1 Toyota Prius Prime, #2 Nissan Leaf, #3 Ford Focus Electric, #4 Toyota Prius, #11 Chevrolet Bolt, #17 Ford C-Max Energi, and #19 Chevrolet Volt. All remaining 13 positions were held by vehicles with conventional powertrains. The highest ranking car with a conventional powertrain was once again the Mitsubishi Mirage coming in at #5, with an all-around performance score falling just 3% short of the #1 Prius Prime. The Mirage is the only vehicle to score a position on all three ASG Indexes in 2017. The All-Around Performance Index findings suggest that the advanced powertrains that hold the top four positions on the index, do in fact offer a best all-around value proposition. 

When comparing all 631 Crossover/SUVs (trim variants) head to head, only six of the eleven vehicles with hybrid and PHEV configurations made ASG’s Environmental Performance Index (SUV), the remaining 14 places were held by vehicles with conventional powertrains. The all-new Kia Niro topped the Index with the smallest carbon footprint of any model year 2017 SUV, besting the Tesla Model X by 15%, a notable feat by the new hybrid whose MSRP is but a mere fraction of the Model X.

The Kia Niro distanced itself further ahead of the competition by maintaining the lowest cost of ownership of all SUVs, the first hybrid to top ASG’s Economic Performance Index (SUV). The Index was rounded out by all conventional powertrains, with no additional hybrids or PHEV’s. Similarly, ASG’s All-Around Performance Index (SUV) was dominated by conventional powertrains holding 18 positions, however the Kia Niro once again lead all others by topping the Index at #1. The RAV4 Hybrid was the only other hybrid to make the list, landing at #8. 

For detailed information on ASG’s 2017 findings and methodology, visit www.automotivescience.com/pages/the-study

As global leaders convene to sign the landmark UN Climate Accord on Friday, we pause to reflect on our own choices that will surely affect generations that follow. But with so many choices in the auto marketplace, and a Dieselgate shadow that weighs heavy...
Read More
According to a study released today by the Automotive Science Group (ASG), there are instances where the combustion efficiency gains from advanced diesel technologies can provide net benefits in reducing CO2-equivalent emissions, but... Read More
ASG released its 2016 Automotive Performance Index study findings today, highlighting the stark contrast in performance merits that differentiate conventional and alternatively powered cars and SUVs in 2016. According to the study... Read More
With a myriad of eco-branded trucks available in 2015 – from Ford’s EcoBoost and GM’s EcoTec to RAM’s EcoDiesel – the Automotive Science Group (ASG) offers its fourth annual life-cycle study to determine which 2015 truck actually delivers on the “eco” promise... Read More
On the heels of the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Lima, Peru this month, the Automotive Science Group (ASG) released its 2015 Automotive Performance Index findings today... Read More
Following The White House release of the National Climate Assessment yesterday, ASG’s study is a timely example of “actionable science”, one that helps consumers make informed car purchasing decisions that are ecologically sustainable, socially equitable and economically viable... Read More
ASG’s 2014 Study assessed 245 light-duty trucks to trim level detail, annotating the performance differences between trucks with varying cab size, bed length, drivetrain and engine combinations. While these significant differences in trim packages are on par with those distinguishing Crossover SUVs and Full-Size SUVs, truck buyers are offered little distinction in this regard when performance claims are advertised... Read More
ASG’s Automotive Performance Index is for automotive consumers what Google is for web users. Google presents the best of the web to users based on their data-driven page rank technologies. Likewise, ASG optimizes the automotive consumer search using proprietary algorithms and data-driven analysis to ensure the best vehicles are identified and differentiated in the highly competitive marketplace... Read More