Forbes Lists the Worst Polluters


Volkswagen has topped a list that it probably didn't want to be on: The most polluting vehicles. The VW Touareg V10 TDI and its not-so-clean diesel engine got the worst ranking from the EPA for its heavy output of exhaust.

The EPA ranks vehicles on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 going to the most polluting vehicles and 10 going to the least. Currently, the best overall ranking goes to the Toyota Prius, which manages a 9.5.

The average vehicle rates a 6 on the scale, which measures emissions of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, particulates and formaldehyde. Nitrogen oxide causes smog, carbon monoxide and particulates to build up black soot on buildings and your lungs, and formaldehyde is carcinogenic. To break a large number of ties, Forbes also measured the tonnage of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gasses each vehicle releases in a year.

Overall, four of the "top" five cars on the list are diesels.

"But wait," you say, "aren't diesels OK now?"

You would be thinking of the new clean-diesel technology that will arrive in showrooms later this year from Mercedes and Volkswagen (Mercedes' Bluetec line, for example). Yes, these diesels will be much cleaner than their predecessors and are expected to get an EPA rating of 6. Read the full list after the jump.

Top Ten Worst Polluters

1. Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI
2. Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
3. Mercedes GL320 CDI
4. (tie) Mercedes-Benz ML320 CDI, R320 CDI
5. (tie) Chevrolet Suburban 2500, GMC Yukon XL 250,0 Hummer H2
6. (tie) Lincoln Mark LT, Ford F-150
7. (tie) Chrysler Aspen Flex Fuel, Dodge Dakota Flex Fuel, Durango Flex Fuel, Ram 1500 Flex-Fuel, Jeep Grand Cherokee Flex Fuel, Commander Flex Fuel
8. (tie) GMC Yukon 1500 RWD, Yukon XL 1500 RWD, Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 RWD
9. (tie) Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, G55 AMG
10. (tie) Mercedes-Benz S600/S63, CL600/CL65 AMG, AMG/S65 AMG, BMW M5, M6, Saab 9-7X Aero

Dirty Driving: Top 10 Worst Polluters (Forbes)

By Stephen Markley | July 18, 2008 | Comments (17)
Tags: In The News



eh, Dave. I hope this is not asking for too much.

Do you happen to have a link or something similar of a list of polluting rate of every vehicle sold in the US?

Amuro Ray

This post indicates 2 problems that many (esp auto manufacturers and gov't) were trying to hide:

(1) slap in the face for many current diesel supporters (for current model);
(2) Flex fuel vehicles don't work! (in the sense of protecting our env)

The last paragraph of the Forbe's article really pinpoints the exact problem we've, which many have said many times (and many have also SHOWN that numerous on the Ford F-450 blogs, Hummer blogs, etc).


dave, i also would be interested in a complete list, just like J is, can u locate something to lead me in the right direction? or post a link!?


Woo Hoo! Go Hummer H2! Top 5!

It's good to see that only #9 and #10 contain non-SUV's; and those cars are uncommon $80k-plus ones. can't be that many M5/M6 and AMG's on the road to make that much of a difference.

Of the SUVs on the list, most of them aren't high volume models either. Just because those cars are "uncommon" doesn't make it okay for them to polute excessively.



One more reason not to buy a diesel car or SUV. They'll always be dirty, smelly and noisy, no matter what their marketing people promise. I'd go for it only if they came out with a non-turbo 50 mpg Jetta, but the new Jetta TDI only gets 29 mpg in town. Leave Diesel to the truckers who need the fuel for their livelihoods. Diesel cars and SUVs aren't really needed when you have the Prius and the Highlander Hybrid.


BTW, is it just me, or is there a typo?

The Chrysler Aspen Flex Fuel is on both #6 and #7.


I surprised the Ford Explorer is not on the list.



do you know how many Ford F-150's are sold per year? or how many of those things are on the road?

if people really cared about the environment, then a big change in the purchasing choice away from F-150's, Yukon's ETC. matters a whole lot more. on the other hand, if people stopped buying M6's demand for foreign oil or pollution in our cities would not change one tiny bit!


The reason these diesel vehicles are dirty was the governments caving in to the trucking industry and refusing to make low sulpher diesel mandatory in the US.

This is the same reason that most of the European diesels never made it over here.

From the Forbes article:
"The worst polluter on our list, the Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI, emits 83 percent less nitrogen oxide and 89 percent less carbon monoxide than the average vehicle built in 1970, according to EPA historical data."


Producing a lot more bio diesel fuel would clean things up a bunch more and would give me a reason to want to buy one. But I hear the makers of the new clean diesel cars will only allow a mix of 5 percent biodiesel or they'll void the new car warranty.


The scoring for all vehicles rated by the EPA is here:

As for the Forbes Magazine, I'm amazed that anyone takes their content seriously.

From the article: "The primary greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide..."??

Come on... the veracity of anything published in Forbes seems to be more and more dubious with each new "article".


Woogie: You said: "The reason these diesel vehicles are dirty was the governments caving in to the trucking industry and refusing to make low sulpher diesel mandatory in the US."

That is exactly OPPOSITE reality. Low sulphur diesel IS most definitely required in the US - to a much more stringent standard than Europe. You can find all this info on the Dept. of Energy website.

By the way, do you know why sulphur is important in diesel? It acts as a lubricant. Without it, other chemicals must be substituted for the sulphur.

Grant Welch

Back in the years that pollution was rampant, I can remember almost collapsing while adjusting valves on a 1936 Buick sedan, I was almost finished when the room started spinning, I headed for the door and air. I have always remembered that experience and am wondering if that is possible wirh the pollution controls now in force. Can someone answer that question? I'm an 84 year old that was used to be a mechanic.

Did you read in my post where I said "most of them aren't high volume? I didn't mention the f-150, which was the best sellling vehicle for years. I was comparing low volume apples to low volume apples. I was saying that low volume, high perfomance cars are just as guilty as heavy duty trucks and suv's. And if you combine all those AMG and M models that volume is not all that low anymore. Plus you can't tow anything or use any of them for work (maybe the ML). Again, not saying that it is ok to smog up our air.



The low sulfur diesel requirements only became a requirement in the US in October 2006 for model year 2007.

US regs say max 15ppm.

EU regs say max of 10ppm.

So European fuel actually has stricter controls on low sulfur diesel than the US.

And do you know why they want to reduce sulfur, because it causes acid rain.


I thought the CNG Honda Civic was the cleanest car on the planet...I believe that is what they advertise anyway. Mistake???

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