These are the cars that are doing the most to reduce mankind's impact on the planet we call home.
The CarBuzz Awards: Save The Planet category is not only about electric cars - this is a category that we have come up with to give to a new (or significantly improved) car that we've driven in 2022 that has made the biggest impact in helping reduce the automotive industry's impact on the planet. We're not necessarily talking about the net CO2 emissions that a winner's manufacturer emits, nor are we necessarily talking about a car that is carbon-neutral or negative that nobody knows about. We want something mainstream that can change people's impact on earth for the better while still being a phenomenal car to drive.
Last year, the award was won by the Volkswagen ID.4, with the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Rivian R1T emerging as runners-up. This year, our nominees included the Toyota bZ4X, the Nissan Ariya, and the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, but our finalists are even better. Let's take a look.
Our first finalist is the Kia EV6, a car that is pretty and capable enough to replace the Stinger in some markets. It's so good at being a car that its electric powertrain is almost inconsequential, and it has won a number of awards worldwide, including European Car of the Year 2022. It's a crossover that offers great styling, ultra-fast charging that improves continually thanks to over-the-air (OTA) updates, plenty of tech, and a premium cabin. With numerous powertrains on offer, including a 576-horsepower GT model that turns performance up considerably, there's something for everyone here. The formerly mid-range EV6 Wind was particularly impressive and can be had in either RWD or e-AWD forms, but with a recent $7,000 price increase as the Wind became the new entry-level model, it's not a shoo-in to win the award this year.
Our second finalist has also been subject to numerous price increases of late, but we cannot forget how much it blew us away when we finally got to drive it for the first time and every time since. This is a revelation of a truck. It can tow up to 10,000 pounds in the correct trim, and it can calculate in real time what your remaining range is when you're doing so. It's also quick and can do 0-60 mph in under four seconds, and it can power the grid during power outages, as those affected by Hurricane Ian have seen firsthand.
It's highly attractive, very comfortable, and available with Blue Cruise hands-free driving tech on its uppermost trims. With multiple variants for everything from the laborer to the ranch owner, not to mention more storage than a gas truck could ever offer, this is the kind of package that can convince even the most skeptical to at least consider electric. In a country where trucks are arguably the most important vehicle type, producing a great electric pickup with a relatively attainable price tag is the kind of game-changer that could make the planet a little happier.
Finally, we have the Hyundai Ioniq 5. Some might view this as a Kia EV6 in different clothes, but Hyundai and Kia have forged their own brand identities while sticking to similar core values. But while the EV6 started out at a similar price point to the Ioniq 5 and then saw a shocking increase, the Ioniq 5's pricing has stayed stable. The Ioniq 5 will soon spawn a performance variant, but that's not why we're talking about it.
Its design is unique without being obnoxious and its cabin is beautifully stylish. Like its corporate cousin, it has scooped up numerous awards around the world, but it has collected even more, sweeping every category it was nominated in at the World Car of the Year Awards. In IIHS testing, it won the Top Safety Pick+ rating, the highest any car can achieve. Clearly, this is one of the best cars of the year, and our time with it left us feeling no different. Stellar build quality, fast charging, great range, outstanding comfort, and premium styling, all for much less than a Tesla Model Y? This will be tough to beat.