Deciding on the right car for you can prove to be a difficult decision with a seemingly never-ending expanse of options. Our goal is to do much of the heavy lifting for you to make that decision more manageable. Our team at the Auto Test Center drives over 500,000 miles a year, putting vehicles through rigorous testing to give you unbiased insights into the safety, efficiency, and performance of cars on the market today.

With this year's annual Autos Spotlight, we are introducing an additional way to assist consumers in choosing the best possible vehicle: our Green Choice designation, which you'll see denoted by a green leaf in our ratings. In collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, we will now incorporate data to identify how vehicles stack up when it comes to the amount of greenhouse gas and other pollutants they emit.

We've taken this step, in part, because of what we've heard from you. In a January 2021 nationally representative CR survey of 2,223 U.S. adults, 61 percent said that tailpipe emissions are a "very or somewhat" important factor when they're choosing a car to purchase or lease. And according to CR's analysis, vehicles with fewer greenhouse gas emissions also tend to help consumers save money on fuel. In fact, owners of electric vehicles are spending 60 percent less to power their vehicles than owners of conventional gas-powered models.

What's exciting is that four of CR's 10 Top Picks for 2021 also meet our criteria for the new Green Choice designation. This shows that it is possible to create vehicles that are safe, reliable, and sustainable. We recognize the enormous trust you put in us to help you make this major decision, and we take that responsibility very seriously. With this additional focus on sustainability, we believe we are ensuring that your choice of a car is the right one for you and for planet Earth.

What the Green Choice Designation Means

Low/No Greenhouse
Gas Emissions

Low/No Smog-
Forming Emissions

Green Choice

Our new Green Choice designation highlights the top 20 percent of vehicles on the market with the cleanest emissions. Green Choice cars, SUVs, and minivans are indicated in our ratings by a green leaf icon and are gas-powered, hybrid, and electric. The new rating was developed in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program, which rates vehicles for levels of greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions. Green Choice allows consumers to make a more informed decision when shopping for a new vehicle. We also indicate which cars meet the Green Choice standard in our online ratings and model pages.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the April 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. For more information, visit our 2021 Autos Spotlight page.