Some new-vehicle shoppers are intensely aware of the impact of competing models on the environment and go out of their way to pick one that will be less harmful to Mother Nature. As we noted in a separate post, the most benign rides on the road in this regard for 2022 all are electrified to some degree. Hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and full electric vehicles are about evenly represented in the annual list of the 12 “Greenest” rides on the road compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
But as in the movies, for every automotive hero there has to be a vehicular villain, and in this case the true Darth Vaders of the automotive industry, at least with regards to the environment, can be found on the ACEEE’s aggregate of the industry’s “Meanest” vehicles for 2022.
All of the dirty dozen on the list are traditional internal combustion-engine models, with most being big and heavy truck-based SUVs packing high-powered V8s for towing large boats or trailers, or in the case of models like the Ram 1500 TRX and Ford F-150 Raptor, crazy-fast engines and other upgrades to facilitate off-road racing.
As one might guess, each of the meanest models has abysmal fuel economy, led by the supercharged V8-powered Ram 1500 TRX that’s EPA rated at a mere 10 mph in the city and 14 mpg on the highway (with premium fuel required). For those keeping score, the EPA estimates the TRX will cost an average $5,150 per year to keep the gas tank filled. That’s $4,450 more to run over the course of a year than the ACEEE’s Greenest car for 2022, the Toyota Prius Prime.
As with the Council’s list of Greenest cars, ratings here depend on the “cradle to grave” impact a given model will have on the environment. This includes manufacturing disposal impact, a model’s energy source, emissions from manufacturing, the impact of disposal and recycling, and for 2022, emissions created by producing a vehicle’s materials.
The organization analyzes this information and assigns each vehicle a “Green Score,” which is expressed on a 100-point scale with higher numbers being better. While the aforementioned Prius Prime tops the greenest list with a Green Score of 69, the 1500 TRX that sits atop the environmentally meanest list musters a rating of just 22.
Though purposeful buyers who require a large and powerful vehicle for towing and hauling have little choice other than to choose a gas-guzzler, that’s about the change. Already, Ford has released a hybrid-powered F-150 full-size pickup truck that, at 22 mpg in the city, gets decent fuel economy for such a large and capable vehicle. This year, the full electric Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV and Rivian R1T pickup trucks are debuting that boast superhuman acceleration and towing capacities, not to mention emissions-free driving for several hundred miles on a charge.
In the meantime, here are the ACEEE’s 12 environmentally “Meanest” models for 2021:
- RAM 1500 TRX: Green Score 22
- Jeep Wrangler 4-Door: Green Score 28
- Toyota Sequoia 4WD: Green Score 28
- Jeep Grand Wagoneer 4×4: Green Score 28
- GMC Sierra 4WD: Green Score 28
- Ford F-150 Raptor: Green Score 29
- BMW X5 M: Green Score 30
- BMW X6 M: Green Score 30
- Infiniti QX80 4WD: Green Score 30
- Nissan Armada 4WD: Green Score 30
- Chevrolet Suburban 4WD: Green Score 31
- GMC Yukon XL 4WD: Green Score 31
Source: ACEEE, GreenerCars.org.