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Toyota tests a new green semi, Tesla Model X tops AAA 2017 Green Car Guide

The Tesla Model X SUV was named best overall vehicle in the AAA 2017 Green Car Guide.
The Tesla Model X SUV was named best overall vehicle in the AAA 2017 Green Car Guide.

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Between electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and more efficient engines using good old-fashioned gas, it’s easier to drive green than ever before. With Earth Day right around the corner, a lot of organizations leverage the event with environmental news, including AAA, which released its 2017 Green Car Guide, and Toyota, which put a brand-new hydrogen fuel cell big rig into service at the LA Port this week.

The Tesla Model X SUV claimed the top spot in the AAA 2017 Green Car Guide released this week, beating 64 other vehicles to win best overall.

"It got a perfect score for fuel economy and for emissions because it’s an all electric vehicle, but one of the other things that helped put it over the top was it had the most cargo capacity behind the second seat of any of the vehicles we tested," said Megan McKernan, manager of the Auto Club Automotive Research Center.

With a starting price of $83,000 and an EPA-estimated range of 295 miles per charge, the Model X also won the guide's No. 1 spot in the SUV category -- one of six vehicle types included in a guide that runs the gamut from emissions-free battery electrics to low-emissions hybrids to high-mileage gas-powered pickup trucks.

Other winners include the Chevrolet Bolt EV (subcompact), Volkswagen e-Golf (compact), Lexus GS 450h F Sport (midsize), Tesla Model S 60 (large) and Ford F-150 XLT Super Crew (pickup).

The AAA Green Car Guide differs from other green car lists in that it takes a holistic approach to the vehicle. While fuel economy, price and performance top the list of purchase considerations for U.S. drivers, half of those drivers are influenced by a vehicle’s safety technology. What they consider after that are brand, style, color and smart phone connectivity, according to AAA.

Toyota took advantage of this Saturday's Earth Day to make some big news at the Port of LA this week with a new kind of semi truck. Called Project Portal, it’s an 18-wheeler that runs on hydrogen gas. Toyota, which sells a hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicle called the Mirai, is using two of that car's hydrogen fuel cells in the semi, and pairing them with a larger battery and motor to travel 200 emissions-free miles per tank.