To help members understand the latest automotive technology so they can purchase vehicles that best suit their needs, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles over a decade ago in the AAA Green Car Guide, which initially focused entirely on rating fuel-efficient, low-emitting vehicles.
For the 2021 edition, we've expanded the focus of the guide to include testing and ranking cars and light trucks with the latest technology, including having at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature. In addition to vehicle evaluation, the guide covers a number of pertinent automotive topics in detail—for example, the latest advanced safety features, how to properly maintain your vehicle, and the development of autonomous vehicles.
The green cars tested by the ARC are evaluated on the basis of 13 categories: emissions, fuel economy,
crashworthiness, braking, acceleration, handling, cargo-carrying capacity, ride quality, interior noise, ease of entry and exit, maneuverability, roominess, and visibility.
The scores for the categories are totaled, and the cars are ranked from high to low.
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Pickup
2020 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Crew Cab SLT
Vehicle Type: Pickup Diesel
Category Ranking: 1
Price as Tested:$57,595
Fuel Type: Diesel
Fuel Capacity (gal): 24
EPA City mpg: 23
EPA Highway mpg: 30
EPA Combined mpg: 26
Advanced Safety Features
Adaptive Cruise Control [O]
Advanced Headlights [O]
Automatic Emergency Braking [O]
Blind-Spot Warning [O]
Forward-Collision Warning [O]
Lane-Departure Warning [O]
Lane-Keeping Assistance [O]
Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [O]
[S] Standard, [O] Optional
Although the GMC Sierra 1500 SLT has a relatively high MSRP, it comes packed with many standard and available performance and convenience features, technology, and safety systems that make it a highly capable full-size pickup truck. Examples include a rearview camera system that aids in lining up trailer hitches, a six-function power liftgate, a carbon-fiber cargo box, a bed-view and camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlights, front and rear parking assist, and a wide-ranging set of available advanced driver-assistance systems. Our test vehicle came equipped with a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine that generates 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque; it's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. This setup contributes to a good overall driving experience, with lots of available low-end torque, quick acceleration, and large towing and payload capacities. The Sierra also has a spacious cab, with excellent front and rear legroom for all passengers; the backseat easily accommodates three adults. For this vehicle class, respectable fuel economy and handling aren't usually expected, but that's not true with this diesel-powered, full-size pickup: The Sierra gets an EPA-estimated 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/24 mpg combined, which is impressive given its size and towing capabilities.