The Automotive Science Group's study findings will be published on June 1, 2018 in its entirety. We have released select findings from our 2018 Crossover, SUV and Minivan assessments below, and intend to release our full report following the completion of our 2018 Car and Truck assessments in mid-May. In the interim, please find a brief synopsis below.
As the latest round of UN climate change negotiations commenced on the first of 30 April 2018, in Bonn, Germany, in an effort to further develop the framework for implementing the landmark Paris Agreement, the U.S. government remains at odds with the rest of the world. It is this oddity that requires corporate leaders and individuals alike to step ahead of government impasse, and quite literally ‘lead the charge’ in the automotive sector.
With our transportation needs accounting for the largest share of total annual U.S. CO2 emissions – exceeding the U.S. power sector’s annual emissions for the second consecutive year [Source: Energy Information Administration] – our vehicle of choice in 2018 will have a lasting effect. And with SUVs and pick-up trucks accounting for 63% of U.S. sales last year [Source: Autodata], it’s important that we differentiate the best performing SUVs to ease this growing segment’s footprint on the world.
Fortunately, consumers have an abundance of choice, and in fact, in 2018, there are notable SUVs that deliver on all fronts. According to ASG’s 2018 Automotive Performance Index (API) Study, there are SUV standouts available to consumers today that are in fact ‘leading the charge’.
ASG’S annual Study, which assessed 823 (with trim variants) model year 2018 crossovers, SUVs and Minivans in North America, found 8 models with plug-in electric capabilities and a dizzying array of vehicle sizes and styles, from hatchbacks that have grown into mini-compact crossovers to coupe style SUVs to the capacious people movers of yesteryear.
Key to ASG’s 2018 analysis, was assessing the comparative benefits between hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and conventional powertrains that must leverage innovative light weighting strategies to improve operational efficiency. In this regard, ASG notes that the environmental benefits of electrification continue to improve as the U.S. grid gets cleaner year over year. The U.S. electric grid reduced total CO2 emissions in 2017, largely attributed to reduced reliance on coal for electricity generation, and a sharp increase in zero-emission renewable sources (Source: Energy Information Administration).
When assessing all 376 model 2018 crossovers (with trim variants) head to head, the Kia Niro Plug-in topped ASG’s Environmental Performance Index with the smallest carbon footprint, besting the all-electric Tesla Model X by 21% over the first 6.5 years of its life. When projecting across the full vehicle life-cycle, the Model X nearly catches up to the Niro with only a 4% environmental deficit. Weight is clearly a disadvantage for the Model X, with its 1,821-pound excess when compared to the Niro PHEV.
ASG’s Economic Performance Index was topped by the all-new Hyundai Kona, with the lowest cost of ownership over the first 6.5 years of ownership, earning ASG’s Best Economic Performance honor, edging out the Niro and all others in ASG’s 2018 study. The Kona’s light weighting strategy gives it an impressive weight advantage, coming in at 801 pounds lighter than the average 2018 crossover. Less resources translates to reduced environmental footprint, increased operational efficiency and reduced life-cycle operating costs.
In aggregate, when assessing environmental, economic and social performance indicators across each vehicle’s life-cycle, the Kia Niro lead ASG’s comprehensive API as the Best All-Around Performance crossover, followed closely by the Niro Plug-in, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V to round out ASG’s Best 5 All-Around Performance crossover selections.
The SUV segment was comprised of 372 models (with trim variants), with the Nissan Rogue leading the API as the Best All-Around Performance SUV, followed closely by the Mitsubishi Outlander and Outlander PHEV, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport as ASG’s Best 5 All-Around Performance SUV selections.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, with PHEV capabilities and an EPA rated 84 MPGe, lead the minivan segment, earning all-around performance honors for the second consecutive year. The Pacifica Hybrid also earned a class leading environmental performance rating in ASG’s Study, with a carbon footprint that is 34% smaller than the average vehicle in its segment. When comparing the Pacifica Hybrid against all crossovers and SUVs in a head to head assessment, the Pacifica Hybrid closely followed the Tesla Model X in ASG’s Environmental Performance Index, and came in ahead of all crossovers and SUVs with conventional powertrains, including those that are half its size. This is a testament to the PHEV’s capabilities and 33-mile all-electric driving range, earning ASG’s Best Environmental Performance and Best All-Around Performance awards in class.
All this to say, innovative offerings that are environmentally and economically preferable, are available to consumers today. For the savvy buyer, it’s all revealed in ASG’s data-driven analysis.
ASG’s top selections by class are reported in the three Crossover segments, two SUV segments and one Minivan class sections of the site, as well as in the five Awards sections that can be accessed from the top navigation bar. While the site is currently being populated with all 2018 award updates, a consolidated list can be viewed below.
The automobiles that were included in this Study are model year 2018 Crossovers, SUVs, and Minivans available to North American consumers in the first quarter of 2018, and with full production capabilities. All two-seaters, convertibles and vehicles exceeding $100,000 MSRP were omitted from the assessment. Several model year 2018 PHEVs and EVs are not available to consumers nationwide, and are in fact extremely limited in production numbers; these vehicles were therefore removed from the 2018 Study findings.
2018 ALL CROSSOVER SEGMENTS (376 models assessed)
BEST 5 ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE Crossovers of 2018: Kia Niro & Niro PHEV, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Nissan Rogue Sport
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE Crossover of 2018: Kia Niro
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE Crossover of 2018: Kia Niro PHEV
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE Crossover of 2018: Hyundai Kona
2018 MINI CROSSOVERS (81 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Mazda CX-3
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Mazda CX-3
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Hyundai Kona
2018 COMPACT CROSSOVERS (84 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Kia Niro
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Kia Niro PHEV
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Kia Niro
2018 CROSSOVERS (209 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Chevrolet Equinox
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Jeep Compass
2018 ALL SUV SEGMENTS (372 models assessed)
BEST 5 ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE SUVs of 2018: Nissan Rogue, Mitsubishi Outlander & Outlander PHEV, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE SUV of 2018: Nissan Rogue
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE SUV of 2018: Tesla Model X
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE Crossover of 2018: Subaru Forester
2018 MID-SIZE SUV (196 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Nissan Rogue
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Tesla Model X
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Subaru Forester
2018 FULL-SIZE SUV (207 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Kia Sorento
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Toyota Highlander Hybrid
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Kia Sorento
2018 MINIVAN (46 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Ford Transit Connect