When Toyota first launched the world’s first mass-produced hybrid — the Prius — in 2000, it promoted the vehicle’s 41 miles per gallon combined city/highway. Nineteen years later, the Prius Eco’s lighter lithium ion battery improves by 15 miles per gallon at 56 MPG combined.
That is one reason why Toyota performed well in the Automotive Science Group’s 2019 Automotive Performance Index Study.
Consumers love their vehicles. But ASG says consumers have very limited product knowledge when looking at the environmental, socioeconomic and lifecycle costs of those vehicles.
Those costs, however, have a strong impact on the environment and the global community, in addition to the consumer’s financial interest.
ASG, wanting to bring transparency to the marketplace through comparative cost analysis in the environmental, socioeconomic and lifecycle cost areas, has released its 2019 Automotive Performance Index study, which named the top brands and specific vehicle models that performed best in those areas.
The study broke down its study into categories including leading cars, leading crossovers and SUVs, and leading brands, and it named winners in categories such as best overall performance, best environmental performance and best economic performance.
Looking at those factors, ASG named Mitsubishi as best all-around performance brand for 2019. In the cars category, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai and FCA models led the 2019 API rankings.
The Toyota Prius Prime won in the category of best all-around performance car.
ASG says its API index measures factors such as “natural capital,” the social and human capital, and the “economic efficiencies embodied within each vehicle” in coming up with its real market value compared to other 2019 vehicle offerings.
Assessing the comparative ecological economics of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and conventional powertrains was key to ASG’s 2019 analysis, the company said, adding that electrification’s environmental benefits keep improving while the U.S. grid keeps getting cleaner.
In getting to its summary findings, the report discusses each segment, starting with cars. ASG said cars are showing “the most exciting transition in the automotive landscape since the first mass-produced vehicles rolled off the assembly line in the early 20th century.”
“We’re seeing a disruption in the market that is changing the competitive landscape,” ASG writes. “Automakers are being pressed for measurable innovation, not just shamelessly repackaging and rebranding the same technologies decade after decade.”
Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai and FCA models were tops in ASG’s 2019 API rankings. The company said technological tradeoffs between vehicle electrification and light-weighting strategies, which it said maximized lifecycle environmental and economic performance, were important factors in its findings.
“It comes as no surprise in ASG’s study that the effective use of both strategies is the winning formula,” ASG said.
In a news release, Mitsubishi Motors chief operating officer Mark Chaffin said his company’s 2019 lineup “continues to offer consumers the right mix of efficiency, style, technology and performance, and that blend is resonating with new vehicle buyers.”
"From the eco-friendly Mirage to the world's best-selling plug-in hybrid [based on IHS Markit new registrations of plug-in hybrid and all SUV body styles for January 2013 to September 2018 compiled from governments and other sources], the Outlander PHEV, we offer best-in-class vehicles with versatility and value, and the results of ASG's latest study bear that out," Chaffin said.
In naming the Toyota Prius Prime as best all-around performance car, ASG said that with the Prius Prime, Toyota is “bridging the technological gap once again and leading us into the battery electric era with this plug-in hybrid model.” ASG mentioned the Prime’s 133 MPG-e along with its 25-mile all-electric capability. ASG also said the lithium-ion plug-in hybrid model holds 154 grams of CO2-e emissions per mile driven lifetime, and the company said its lifecycle carbon footprint is 48% less than the first-generation Prius.
ASG assessed all 419 crossover variants (while disregarding the mini crossover, compact crossover and crossover segments), and the Kia Niro Plug-in had the smallest carbon footprint in the Environmental Performance Index (Crossover) category. Across its lifecycle, it topped the battery electric Audi e-tron, Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace.
With its all-electric range of 26 miles, the Niro plug-in can handle most every day driving tasks, and ASG estimates daily mean driving distance at 38.4 miles in the U.S.
“At this rate, the Niro Plug-in will only require 10 fill-ups at the gas station per year,” ASG said.
In ASGs assessment of the SUV segment’s 406 model variants, it named the Mitsubishi Outlander as Best All-Around Performance SUV. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Nissan Rogue and Rogue Hybrid, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Kia Sorento were ASG’s Best five All-Around Performance SUV selections.
In the minivan segment, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, with PHEV capabilities, won in the category of Best All-Around Performance for the third consecutive year. ASG said the Pacifica Hybrid showed the smallest carbon footprint of any model year 2019 minivan, and for the third consecutive year it won in the category of Best Environmental Performance award in class, also for the third consecutive year.
According to ASG, the Pacifica Hybrid produced 34% less CO2-e emissions over the first six and a half years of its lifecycle compared to the average vehicle in its segment.
In a news release, FCA quoted ASG managing director Colby Self as saying the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid’s showing in the study was helped by its 32-mile all-electric range and advanced gas-electric combination.
“The plug-in remains unrivaled in the minivan segment, providing the best all-around performance in its class since the model was first introduced in 2017,” Self said.
Following is a list of the winners:
Best brands of 2019
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE BRAND: Mitsubishi
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE BRAND: Tesla
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE BRAND: Mitsubishi
BEST SOCIAL PERFORMANCE BRAND: MINI
MOST DISTINGUISHED BRAND: Toyota
Best cars of 2019
2019 ALL CARS (irrespective of class, 1,640 variants assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE CAR: Toyota Prius Prime
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE CAR: Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE CAR: Mitsubishi Mirage
BEST 5 ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE (SMALL CAR SEGMENT): Mitsubishi Mirage, Toyota Prius C, Toyota Yaris Sedan, Chevrolet Spark, Nissan Versa
BEST 5 ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE (LARGE CAR SEGMENT): Toyota Prius Eco, Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid and Plug-in, Nissan Leaf, Honda Insight
2019 MINI-COMPACT CARS (100 vehicles assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Toyota Yaris Sedan
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: BMW i3
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Chevrolet Spark
2019 COMPACT CARS (235 vehicles assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Mitsubishi Mirage
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Toyota Prius C
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Mitsubishi Mirage
2019 MID-SIZE CARS (303 vehicles assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Toyota Prius Prime
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Toyota Prius Prime
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Honda Fit
2019 FULL-SIZE CARS (87 vehicles assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid
2019 WAGONS (38 vehicles assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Subaru Outback
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Subaru Outback
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Fiat 500L
Best Crossovers of 2019:
2019 ALL CROSSOVER SEGMENTS (419 models assessed)
BEST 5 ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE Crossovers: Kia Niro, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Kicks, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE Crossover: Kia Niro Plug-in
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE Crossover: Kia Niro Plug-in
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE Crossover: Nissan Kicks
2019 MINI CROSSOVERS (83 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Mazda CX-3
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Lexus UX 250h
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Hyundai Kona
2019 COMPACT CROSSOVERS (101 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Kia Niro Plug-in
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Kia Niro Plug-in
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Nissan Kicks
2019 CROSSOVERS (235 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Jeep Compass
Best SUVs of 2019
2019 ALL SUV SEGMENTS (406 models assessed)
BEST 5 ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE SUVs: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Nissan Rogue and Rogue Hybrid, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Kia Sorento
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE SUV: Mitsubishi Outlander
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE SUV: Tesla Model X
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE SUV: Nissan Rogue
2019 MID-SIZE SUV (184 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Mitsubishi Outlander
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Tesla Model X
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Nissan Rogue
2019 FULL-SIZE SUV (222 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Kia Sorento
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Toyota Highlander Hybrid
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Kia Sorento
2019 MINIVAN (52 models assessed)
BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
BEST ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: Ford Transit Connect