Every year, Green Car Journal names a Green Car of the Year. It’s a prestigious award that tends to recognize new technologies that are making it easier to drive without burning gasoline. Past winners include the original Chevy Volt, BMW’s electric i3, and the Toyota Camry hybrid.
Awkwardly, two cars whose reputations have been dashed by the Volkswagen diesel scandal have taken home the trophy, the 2009 VW Jetta TDI and 2010 Audi A3 TDI. Both cars were retroactively declared ineligible last month—the cars were using software to cheat emissions testing and polluting far, far above legal levels—and the automaker returned the trophies.
Unclean diesels aside, environmentally conscious buyers still have a wide variety of pro-planet vehicles to choose from, especially if you’re looking for something relatively small and compact. Though the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid won the award in 2008, there’s a separate award now for green trucks, and this year’s cars are all on the lighter side.
“A small, but dedicated, group of car shoppers remain consistently focused on the environmental pedigree of new vehicles,” says Karl Brauer, an automotive industry analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “These shoppers look at fuel efficiency, recyclable content and emissions ratings when comparing vehicles, and for this group an award like Green Car of the Year will definitely impact their consideration set.”
Curiously, none of the finalists are pure electric vehicles, while plug-in hybrids, with their longer range and increased driving flexibility make several appearances. The award will be presented next month at the LA Auto Show.
The five finalists for 2016 are the Audi A3 E-Tron, the new Chevrolet Volt, the Honda Civic, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Prius. Click through the gallery above for more info on each.