Higher MPG Or Less Pollution – Which Car Would You Choose?

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If you were in the market for a new car and had to choose between one that gets better miles per gallon and one that emits less pollution, which would you pick? I am not necessarily talking about if you are in the market for a hybrid, but rather if you were looking at a few cars that were a little more varied, like a Honda CRV, a Subaru Outback, a Mini Cooper or a Toyota Camry. Let’s take a look at their numbers and see which ones get better gas mileage and which ones emits more or less pollution than the others. Using the EPA’s Green Cars website, I was able to easily compare these 4 cars. For the air pollution/greenhouse gas score numbers, 1 is the worst and 10 is the best.

2008 Honda CRV

Engine: 4 cylinder with an automatic 5 speed transmission
Drive: 4 wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 22 MPG (City & Highway combined)
Air Pollution Score: 7
Greenhouse Gas Score: 6
Pollution: It emits 4.13 pounds of smog-forming pollution every year, along with 8.92 tons of greenhouse gases.

2008 Subaru Outback

Engine: 4 cylinder with an automatic 4 speed transmission
Drive: 4 wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 22 MPG (City & Highway combined)
Air Pollution Score: 9.5
Greenhouse Gas Score: 6
Pollution: It emits 0.99 pounds of smog-forming pollution every year, along with 8.92 tons of greenhouse gases.

2008 Mini Cooper

(this is going to hurt, we own a 2006)
Engine: 4 cylinder with an automatic 6 speed transmission
Drive: 2 wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 26 MPG (City & Highway combined)
Air Pollution Score: 7
Greenhouse Gas Score: 8
Pollution: It emits 4.13 pounds of smog-forming pollution every year, along with 6.92 tons of greenhouse gases.

Toyota Camry

Engine: 4 cylinder with an automatic 5 speed transmission
Drive: 2 wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 25 MPG (City & Highway combined)
Air Pollution Score: 7
Greenhouse Gas Score: 7
Pollution: It emits 4.13 pounds of smog-forming pollution every year, along with 7.93 tons of greenhouse gases.

So there are the results of 4 different kinds of cars – but which is the more environmentally friendly car? The Subaru which emits less pollution than the Mini but uses more gas? It’s a tough call. If we were to put these in order of less overall pollution to more pollution, the list would look like this:

Subaru Outback
Mini Cooper
Honda CRV
Toyota Camry

If we were to go on only miles per gallon (best to worst), the list would look like this:

Mini Cooper
Toyota Camry
Honda CRV/Subaru Outback

So which would you think would be the best environmental measure of a car, the pollution it emits or the amount of gasoline it emits? From an air quality point of view, the less emissions the better. But we are running out of oil and using more and more of it, so maybe the MPG is more important? What are your thoughts on this, I am really curious to find out!

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