Lightning-fast Tesla Model S tops Auto Club's best Green Cars ranking

Lightning-fast Tesla Model S tops Auto Club's best Green Cars ranking
The new Tesla Model S P85D produces extra power with the addition of a second electric motor putting out the equivalent of 691 horsepower. It topped AAA annual ranking of Green Cars. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Expect to spend some green if you want to purchase the vehicles at the top of the best Green Cars list AAA published Monday.

Six of the top 10 cars tested by the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center cost about $50,000 or more and two are in the $100,000 range.


Tesla Motors Model S P85D Performance ranked highest of the 88 vehicles tested, and by a wide margin. All of the vehicles were tested and scored in 13 categories, including braking, fuel economy, emissions, handling and, ride comfort. The Tesla garnered 94.87 points, almost 10 more than its a nearest competitor.

"It's comfortable, roomy, quiet and luxurious," AAA said in its report. "The styling is sleek and sporty."

The electric car's specs also are impressive – 691 horsepower from a dual motor setup and an estimated range of 253 miles between charges, AAA said. It can reach 60 miles per hour in just three seconds.

But you pay for all those creature comforts and the lightning fast pickup. The model AAA tested retails for $133,320 before any government rebates and incentives for electric car buyers.

While less expensive, many of the other cars in the top 10 rankings also were from luxury brands. BMW and Audi each had two models at the top of the list. Four were electric cars. Another four were powered by diesel engines. There was only one hybrid and just a single gasoline-only model.

Volkswagen's e-Golf SEL Premium ranked second. AAA said the electric compact car is fun to drive but because of its limited range – just 83 miles between charges – its best used as a city car.

"At $36,000 before government rebates, the e-Golf is a bit pricey, but the driving experience and high level of equipment help justify the price," AAA said.

The e-Golf ranked as the AAA's top green compact car.

Another electric vehicle, the BMW i3, ranked third.

"Lightweight materials and sophisticated electronics make it the most efficient vehicle currently on the market," AAA said.

The $48,675 car also is fast for an electric car, reaching 60 MPH in seven seconds. AAA did note that the distinctive vehicle has "quirky" styling.

Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium was fourth. It was the top gasoline only vehicle in the field and at $31,535, was a comparative steal.

The Volkswagen Golf TDI SE was number five and the top diesel vehicle test. It was also one of the least expensive vehicles that ranked highly. The model AAA tested cost $27,010.

Other vehicles rounding out the top 10 included the Nissan Leaf, ($29,650,) Audi A7 TDI Quattro Tiptronic, ($81,395,) Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited, ($50,650,) BMW 328d M Sport ($49,800,) and the Audi A8 LTDI Quattro Tiptronic ($99,445.)


AAA compiled the results in its 160-page 2015 AAA Green Car Guide. The report also contains comprehensive information about green technologies such as fuel cell vehicles, battery electric cars, diesel engines and plug-in hybrids.

AAA "has a long-term interest in helping motorists cut their fuel bills and clean the air," said ARC Manager Megan McKernan. "Green vehicles offer motorists a way to reduce emissions and save fuel, and depending on the choice of green vehicle, can help motorists save cash."

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