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 Midsize
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
Vehicle Type: Midsize Hybrid
Category Ranking: 1
Price as Tested:$36,430
Fuel Type: Regular
Fuel Capacity (gal): 13.2
EPA City mpg: 45
EPA Highway mpg: 51
EPA Combined mpg: 47
with specific headlights
Advanced Safety Features
Adaptive Cruise Control [S]
Advanced Headlights [S]
Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
Blind-Spot Warning [S]
Forward-Collision Warning [S]
Lane-Departure Warning [S]
Lane-Keeping Assistance [S]
Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [S]
[S] Standard, [O] Optional
It used to be that getting the most miles out of a gallon of gas meant driving something that looked like an escapee from a Back to the Future sequel. Not so with the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid — which isn't to say the midsize Sonata Hybrid, fully designed for 2020, isn't distinctive looking. The new styling is sleek, with a modern design that makes it stand out. The point of driving a hybrid, of course, is to maximize fuel efficiency, and the Sonata Hybrid doesn't disappoint. The 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and electric motor (192 hp total) deliver EPA fuel-economy estimates of 45 mpg city/51 mpg highway/47 mpg combined, a big improvement over the previous generation. An available solar panel roof that charges the car's battery pack adds a small mpg boost on sunny days. The hybrid powertrain delivers more than acceptable performance in everyday driving, although it's a bit slow to accelerate. On the road, the Sonata's suspension adds to the overall pleasing effect, with a smooth ride and confident handling. The Sonata Hybrid also has lots of safety and technology features, such as side-view cameras that display an image of the adjacent lane whenever you activate the turn signals.