Southern California AAA Ranks Toyota RAV4 EV as Top Green Car in 2013

By · September 27, 2013

Rav4 EV

Toyota RAV4 EV. (Photo: Brad Berman)

A battery-electric plug-in vehicle is the top green car to own, according to the Auto Club of Southern California. The Toyota RAV4 EV topped the list in the Club’s “2013 Green Car Guide: Plugged Into the Future,” published yesterday. Hybrids took nine out of the top ten slots, however.

“Emissions are just one score out of 13,” said Steve Mazor, the Automobile Club’s chief automotive engineer and automotive research manager. “In many cases other than the RAV4, they [plug-in electric vehicles] are slow. They don’t handle well, generally are not very quiet, and they tend to be small cars and don’t have a lot of room in them.”

The Automobile Club’s Automotive Research Center also considers safety, braking, acceleration, handling, roominess, interior noise, and ease of entry and exit, among 13 criteria. All are rated equally, said Mazor.

“People use these cars,” he explained. By considering factors other than emissions, the Auto Club aims to show “you can buy a car that is more friendly for the environment and do the things you do with any car.”

This year, the Research Center evaluated 77 vehicles, including hybrids, electric vehicles, alternative-fueled vehicles, PZEVs, and conventional vehicles with “class-leading fuel efficiency.” The models are tested for at least a week. A model has to be a green car to even get into the competition, said Mazor.

The results, and total rankings, are included in the Green Car Guide. Besides evaluating vehicles, the Guide explains what makes a car qualify as green—describing different kinds of green powertrains and debunking some myths associated with each.

“There is a much larger choice of green vehicles than people think,” said Mazor. “If you want an SUV or a sporty sedan or just a mainstream mid-sized sedan, you might as well get a green car.”

Tesla Powertrain, But No Tesla Car

The RAV4 EV is only available to consumers in California, and only in very limited numbers. The SUV carries a powertrain produced by Tesla. Under an agreement made in late 2011 between Toyota and Tesla, only 2,600 RAV4EVs will be produced through 2014. The RAV4 EV officially retails for $49,800 and is eligible for $10,000 in state and federal incentives. Yet, more recently, Toyota offered the RAV4 EV for just $299 a month, including incentives, in a 36-month, 36,000-mile lease.

Toyota has sold a little more than 1,000 electric RAV4s to date, Jana Hartline, a spokesperson for Toyota Sales USA told Ranking first on the Auto Club’s green list should help raise awareness of the RAV4 EV, not just as a battery electric vehicle, but also as an all-around useful car, she added.

The Tesla Model S was not on the 2013 list. That is because Tesla would not provide a model for testing, said Mazor. The Auto Club received letters asking about the Tesla’s ranking, he said. As the Model S is now available for rental from Hertz, “we may do that next year,” said Mazor.

Cost is not considered in the total point score, so the Automotive Research Center also compiled a Cost-per-Point list. To arrive at those rankings, it divided the “as tested” Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for each car by total points. No plug-ins or hybrids made it on the Cost-per-Point top ten list this year. The Nissan Versa 1.6S took top ranking there for the second year in a row.


· · 4 years ago

Maybe Toyota should let Tesla do its marketing:>)

· · 4 years ago

I don't think they have much interest. They don't want to sell too many of those. They want to sell hybrids

· · 4 years ago

Toyota needs to sell about 1600 more, which they will likely do by summer 2014. But, don't buy one out-of-state unless you understand the particular issues!

Toyota is becoming increasingly agitated with out-of-state sales. They built the car for one reason; so they can earn credits to sell oil burner cars in California and other CARB states. It is costing them TENS of millions of dollars to sell them to you, but they don't get those credits if you buy it and register it out-of-state. While they can't prevent a dealer from doing "interstate commerce", but they can make it difficult for you to own and purchase the car out-of-state, to wit:

1. Intentionally limiting sales to California only, at "certified" dealers

2. No unlimited mileage leases out of state... already happening

3. Harassing dealers who want to service / warranty repair the car by not paying them!!! Yes, it's happening; Toyota doesn't reimburse some of them for the service / warranty repair they perform out-of-state

4. Limiting the listing of charging stations in the Navigation unit. This one is really silly! Even if you're in a neighboring state like Las Vegas, Nevada, it won't show the charging stations. That's about 30 miles away from California

In the future, I predict different dis-incentives for out-of-state sales, to wit:

5. Limiting the discounts on the car to only California sales and registration

6. Different Toyota interest rate / lease money factors on sales out-of-state

7. Limiting the car in some other obtuse way beyond the charging station limitations (like making Entunes not work, or some other petty method to make the car less attractive out of state)

8. Limited parts availability to non-California states (i.e., you can't even pay cash for the parts, let alone get warranty repairs)

9. Any other way that the lawyers will sign off on to make sure that the car is likely to be sold and registered only in California through 2014 model year

So, for out-of-state buyers, things will get worse, I ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEE IT.

For California sales and registrations, the discounts will likely decrease from the current $15,400 discount and near 0% financing on leases until they feel the pressure to sell model year 2014 cars. The CARB-ZEV credits are attached to the model year.

· · 4 years ago

I'll add that when Toyota goes to their hydrogen car for 2015-2017 model year CARB-ZEV compliance, they won't have to worry about you taking it our-of-state... there won't be any refueling stations outside of California!!!

Plus, they can make far fewer hydrogen cars at 7 credits per car than the 3 credits they get for a Rav4 EV. Starting for 2018 model year, all cars will be limited to 3 credits per car.

· · 4 years ago

Tony, interesting comment about hydrogen.

California is taking a lead in hydrogen filling stations, investing $200M over the next 10 years. Other states will follow, as they always do. Fuel cell cars will be successful in the U.S. as well as in Europe and Asia.

· · 4 years ago

“In many cases other than the RAV 4, they [plug-in electric vehicles] are slow. They don’t handle well, generally are not very quiet, and they tend to be small cars and don’t have a lot of room in them.”
What the hell is he talking about? Apparently the last time he was in an EV was NEVER.
Maybe the only thing he's seen is a GEM or "Howard" (from the HBO movie "Clear History". Maybe he doesn't realize the Tesla Model S is a pure EV. Even the Nissan Leaf is a nice car and very roomy and quiet inside. For the Pikes Peak challenge, the EV racers all had to have screechers put on them because they are so quiet.

· · 4 years ago

"This year, the Research Center evaluated 77 vehicles, including hybrids, electric vehicles, alternative-fueled vehicles, PZEVs, and conventional vehicles with “class-leading fuel efficiency.” The models are tested for at least a week."

So this is what our AAA dues are going for? This is insanity. What is the point of this, and who cares what the Auto Club thinks?

· · 4 years ago

$51,000 sticker price
$3500 down
$2,300 drive off
$2,500 - $3,000 charger plus installation at your home
- $2,500 rebate for the charger 60 - 70 days later
$359 per month / 24 month lease
$391 per month with tax
$800 a year additional on your home electrical bill
AC - Turning it on takes your charge down 40 miles
They do not tell you about a $2,300 drive off fee until you get your paperwork. $3,500 down on a 24 month lease for $391 per month (tax included) and then they hit you with an additional $2,300 drive off fee. You also have to buy a charge for your house which can be anywhere from $2,000 - $3,000 with installation. It can be worked into your lease or purchase but you will pay more money. You do however get a $2,500 rebate on this 60 - 70 days later. As far as the charge, a full charge is about 103 - 113 miles ... BUT THAT'S WITHOUT THE AIR CONDITIONING TURNED ON. Once you turn the AC on, your charge goes down close to 40 miles! Also factor in on average your electric bill at your house goes up $800 per year. If you are taking a trip (for this comments purposes say you are going from LA to Coachella for some music and fun), you may not make it all the way before you have to go and charge it. And then you have to look for a place (one of the apps connected yo your car that shows charging stations, good feature) to go and charge and wait with your car. That's horribly inconvenient. If you don't buy the 240v charger, the normal 120v takes quadruple the amount of charging time. For a car that sticker prices at $51,000, the deal is incredible. And the truck is awesome. It's really nice, great features, rides like a glove, no gas, no oil, great space. But the price is a lot more than you think and the risk of losing a charge is extremely great. That's why these cars are not selling. If the car went further, if the AC didn't cripple the power, if there was a portable charger (that's key, need to be invented), and if there was $2,300 hidden drive off, then this is a must have. But it doesn't have any of this.

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