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Sport-utility vehicles bring up the rear in auto 'Green Guide'

The Chevy Suburban (top) and the Cadillac Escalade are at the bottom of this year's rankings

 Greenest Vehicles in 1999
(from ACEEE)

   •  Greenest Models by Vehicle Class
   •  12 Greenest Vehicles
   •  12 Worst Vehicles

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February 17, 1999
Web posted at: 3:43 p.m. EST (2043 GMT)

(CNN) -- The 1999 edition of the "The Green Guide to Cars and Trucks," released Wednesday, fingered the usual suspects: sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks with gas mileage that barely makes it into the double digits.

The annual guide, put out by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), rated the Cadillac Escalade, the Chevy Suburban and other large sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks as the least environmentally friendly.

"Many of these vehicles are held to less stringent tailpipe emission standards than passenger cars, even though they are used just like passenger cars in most instances," said John DeCicco, who co-authored the Green Guide with Martin Thomas.

Electric cars cleaner

At the clean end of the scale are electric cars, including General Motors' top-ranked EV-1. But not everyone is willing to opt for a car that operates on electricity instead of gasoline.

"Clearly the electric cars are not for everyone," DeCicco said. "We have another list that we call 'practical picks' -- a selection of the greenest-rated gasoline vehicles from a number of classes."

The green guide's practical picks include the Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Mirage, Mazda Protege and the Chevy Prism/Toyota Corolla twins. Also on the practical picks list -- the Saturn SW wagon, Honda Accord, Suburu Legacy wagon and the Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager twins.

But the ACEEE faces an uphill battle to convince Americans to buy greener cars. A look at the sign over your local gas pump will tell you gas prices are the lowest they've been in years. So gas mileage isn't the pocketbook issue it once was.

"People are paying 80, 90 cents a gallon," said Said Deep of Ward's Automotive Reports. "That's cheaper than water. And as long as you can have that going on, folks are not going to buy the environmentally friendly cars. They're going to buy something that looks great, drives great, and makes a statement about themselves. And we'll worry about how much fuel it burns later."

From CNN Correspondent Natalie Pawelski

Zero-emissions car: a dream machine driven by air
February 16, 1999
Electric, hybrid cars get push with Energy grants
January 5, 1999
Stricter emission controls for California SUVs
November 6, 1998
Carmakers agree to curb auto emissions nationwide
February 5, 1998
U.S. unveils technology for pollution-free cars
October 21, 1997

   •Green Guide to cars and trucks
Environmental Protection Agency
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