It's time once more for our annual Best Car To Buy award.
It's the fifth time we've chosen the one car or lineup, newly introduced for this model year, that represents the best new green car to enter the market.
To qualify, a car must be all-new or substantially updated from the previous model year.
(That's why, Tesla fans, we're not going to say it's the Model S again. The electric luxury sedan won in 2013.)
To be eligible for consideration, a car must be available for purchase in North America by April 2015. At least one High Gear Media editor--and ideally several of us--must have driven and reviewed it by December 1, 2014.
To focus on mass-market vehicles and eliminate ultra-luxury green machines that sell only in tiny numbers, we require a base price of $60,000 or less for qualifying entries.
Our five nominees for Best Green Car To Buy 2015 are:
So what's the process:How do we choose from among dozens of new and updated vehicles to pick the list of five that become the finalists for the Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy 2015 award?
First, we rank the contenders by the numeric scores found in the full vehicle reviews on The Car Connection.
Second, we toss out any candidate that doesn't achieve an EPA rating of 30 miles per gallon combined or 80 MPGe. If necessary, we'll accept estimated figures for new vehicles before official ratings are released.
Third, as a group, our editors get together and weigh the green aspects of specific models, qualitative issues, and any numeric ties in ratings.
And lastly, we take into account a variety of other factors as well: real-world market impact, lifetime environmental burden, and consumer significance.
For the record, here's the list of past winners:
We'll discuss each of this year's five finalists in more detail during the week ahead.