Tesla Model S P85D wins AAA Green Car awards

The Tesla Model S P85D won two awards in the annual AAA Green Car Guide. Compiled by the Club’s Southern California based Automotive Research Center (ARC), the guide rates 88 battery electric vehicles, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles, clean diesels, hybrids, partial zero emission vehicles (PZEVs), and vehicles with high fuel economy.

“The center….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, especially when gas prices are high,” she added.

“For the 2015 guide, the research center divided the vehicles into six car classifications and identified the winners and finalists in each category,” said McKernan. “We also recognized overall ‘Green Car’ and ‘Best Value’ winners,” she said.

“The Tesla took two awards – best overall and large car category. All evaluators rated the Tesla high for comfort and ride quality. It handled well on our slalom course, and it has the best acceleration times of all the vehicles,” McKernan added.

Each category was scored on a scale of 0-10 points. Scores were totaled to determine top vehicles. Then, each vehicle’s total score was divided by its “as-tested” price to determine its cost per point for best value. The guide lists vehicle specifications, test scores, data and observations in one-page summaries.

“Low-emission vehicles and hybrid choices vary in quality, price and size. The AAA Green Car Guide is one of our ongoing programs to help consumers navigate the wide-ranging green car marketplace,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “AAA’s expertise and history of automotive research with alternative fuel vehicles continues to benefit AAA members and the public today.”

McKernan did note that the Tesla could take nearly 12 hours to fully recharge once its battery is fully depleted, but said the rest of the car’s good points more than made up for that one weakness. She also said the ARC rated the Nissan Versa SV highly for affordable transportation with high efficiency. “It’s priced under $17,000, averages about 35 miles per gallon and has a spacious interior making it an affordable fuel-sipping car.”

Overall top scoring green cars

  1. 2015 Tesla S P85D Performance (Electric) 94.87
  2. 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium (Electric) 85.50
  3. 2014 BMW i3 (Electric) 85.40
  4. 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium Partial Zero-Emissions 83.86
  5. 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE Clean Diesel 80.91

Best value – cost-per-point scores

  1. 2014 Nissan Versa SV  (Gasoline) $249
  2. 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV (Gasoline) $260
  3. 2013 Hyundai Accent GLS (Gasoline) $269
  4. 2015 Toyota Yaris LE (Gasoline) $273
  5. 2014 Kia Soul+ (Gasoline) $276

2015 AAA Green Car Guide winners by category

  • Large car: Tesla Model S P85D (Electric)
  • Midsize: Audi A7 TDI Quattro Tiptronic (Clean Diesel)
  • Compact: Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium (Electric)
  • Subcompact: BMW i3 (Electric)
  • SUV/Minivan: Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium (PZEV)
  • Pickup Truck: Ford F-150 Supercab Lariat (Gasoline)

Posted by Steve Hanley

Steve Hanley is a car nut and Formula One addict who occasionally drives his Mazda MX-5 on track at HPDE events. He has been known to drive to Nova Scotia just to see the lupins in bloom or to Watkins Glen for a weekend of historic racing. He writes about automobiles, technology and travel from his home in Rhode Island.

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