America’s Dirtiest Cars for 2011

Natalie Josef
December 1, 2010

Of the many things I don’t understand about this world, one of the most perplexing to me is the Hummer. Since it was originally designed for military use, I don’t understand how exactly it made the transition to family vehicle and grocery runner. I don’t think it’s fair that it gets to share the road with smaller cars it would most certainly crush in an accident. I don’t understand why anyone needs something that big and I don’t understand why getting good gas mileage isn’t a compelling factor for everyone who buys a car. Besides, I have been in one and they aren’t exactly comfortable.

There is a guy (I am assuming it’s a guy) in my neighborhood who has a big black Hummer. Parking is tight in San Francisco, especially where I live, but he parks that thing on one-way streets like it’s a tiny little Le Car. It sticks out a good foot or two more than the other vehicles. I just can’t imagine what he needs it for … it’s got to be one of the most un-green, anti-environment cars around, right?

Well, according to Forbes’ new list of America’s dirtiest cars, the Hummer is not one of America’s worst polluters. You know why? Because it’s classified as a “heavy duty” vehicle, which makes it exempt from federal fuel economy requirements—and exempt from the study altogether.

Still, even though an H2 gets 10–12mpg and will produce 10.95 metric tons of carbon emissions in a typical year, it’s still not as bad as some other vehicles. So, what cars are the worst? Glad you asked.

To determine America’s dirtiest vehicles, Forbes looked at data from the EPA for all 2011-model-year vehicles. The cars were scored for performance in terms of air pollution (tailpipe emissions), carbon footprint ratings, and fuel efficiency. Here’s what they found:

Audi S5 Sports Coupe
8-cylinder, manual transmission
MPG: 14 city/22 highway
Carbon footprint: 11 tons of CO2 emitted per year
Air pollution score: 5/10

Buick Lucerne Large Sedan
8-cylinder automatic transmission
MPG: 15 city/23 highway
Carbon footprint: 10.4 tons of CO2 emitted per year
Air pollution score: 5/10

Cadillac CTS-V Upscale Sedan
8-cylinder automatic transmission
MPG: 12 city/18 highway
Carbon footprint: 13.3 tons of CO2 emitted per year
Air pollution score: 5/10


XL 2500 4WD 8-cylinder automatic transmission
MPG: 10 city/15 highway
Carbon footprint: 15.5 tons of CO2 emitted per year
Air pollution score: 5/10

Mercedes-Benz E350 Station Wagon
6-cylinder automatic transmission
MPG: 16 city/23 highway
Carbon footprint: 9.8 tons of CO2 emitted per year
Air pollution score: 5/10


Natalie Josef

About the Author

Natalie Josef is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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