ORLANDO, Florida, April 22, 2015 (ENS) – The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D, a premium electric car, earned the top score in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide, the American Automobile Association announced Tuesday. Based in Palo Alto, California, the automaker¬†also claimed the top spot in last year’s guide.

To help drivers in the market for a green car or truck, the fifth annual AAA guide reviews 88 vehicles – those powered entirely by batteries, some hybrids, vehicles that run on compressed natural gas or diesel, partial zero emission vehicles, and gasoline-powered vehicles with high fuel economy.

Tesla Model S P85D

The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D (Photo courtesy Tesla)

The 88 vehicles were tested and scored by the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center in 13 categories, such as braking, fuel economy, emissions, handling and ride comfort.

“The center has a long-term interest in helping motorists cut their fuel bills and clean the air,” said Automotive Research Center 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.”

McKernan said, “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.”

The Tesla P85D has a 253-mile range, but even with a 240-volt charger, it can take 12 hours to fully re-charge, said McKernan. “Despite charging time, the Model P85D was our top-scoring electric vehicle this year.”

The five-seat, all-wheel drive, 691 horsepower Tesla P85D goes from zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds. It comes equipped with an autopilot system, automatic cruise control, and lane departure warning with steering assist.

Even at a price of $120,000, the Tesla P85D is cheaper than most other luxury performance cars.

The Overall Top Scoring Green Cars are:

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

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

The Green Car Best Value award went to the 2014 Nissan Versa SV.

“It’s priced under $17,000, averages about 35 miles per gallon and has a spacious interior making it an affordable fuel-sipping car,” said McKernan.

Best Value: Cost-Per-Point Scores:

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

The 2015 AAA Green Car Guide contains comprehensive information about green technologies from the Automotive Research Center evaluators.

The research center tracks significant changes to a vehicle from model year to model year. If no significant changes were made to the power train in 2015, a prior model year’s results were used.

For example, staff tested a 2014 Mazda3 sedan. No significant changes were made to its powertrain in 2015, so the 2014 results were included in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide.

Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering, said, “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.”

2015 AAA Green Car Guide Category Winners:

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)

The Automotive Research Center’s engineers and technicians – who have more than 100 years combined experience – evaluated the vehicles.

Each of the 13 categories was scored on 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.

Tested vehicles were selected based on emission certifications from the California Air Resources Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy ratings.

Tests were performed at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and on Southern California roads. Testing procedures were developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the U.S. EPA and AAA.

Download the Guide and find out more at: www.AAA.com/greencar.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2015. All rights reserved.