Report: Honda Civic interior is least toxic, Mitsubishi Outlander is the worst

Honda Civic Interior

The fourth consumer guide to toxic chemicals in cars has just been released by the Ecology Center. Since Americans spend on average 1.5 hours in their vehicles daily, the exposure is looked at as a considerable contribution to indoor pollution.

Reviewing over 200 common vehicles with model years from 2011 and 2012, each was tested for chemicals that are found in components of the interiors, including armrests, dashboards, steering wheels, and seating.

Finding show that the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the most toxic out of all the vehicles tested, while the Honda Civic has the least chemical exposure.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center. “Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

Some of the more harmful chemicals, which are what helps create the generally enjoyed “new car” scent, include bromine, chlorine, lead, and other heavy metals. The impact of them can worsen with higher temperatures, which can lead to chemical changes. Severity of the effects of these toxins ranges from allergies to cancer.

“Automobiles function as chemical reactors, creating one of the most hazardous environments we spend time in,” added Gearhart.

On the upside, some harsh chemicals are beginning to be used less frequently. For example, Volkswagen, Ford, and Mitsubishi have all improved from 2009-2010 model years but 30% or better.

The list of the best and worst are as follows:

Ten Best Picks
2012 Honda Civic 0.46
2011 Toyota Prius 0.55
2011 Honda CR-Z 0.63
2011 Nissan cube 0.65
2012 Acura RDX 0.74
2012 Acura ZDX 0.74
2012 Audi S5 0.74
2011 Smart Coupe 0.74
2011 Toyota Venza 0.77
2011 Smart Passion 0.79

Ten Worst Picks
2012 Mini Cooper S Clubman 2.84
2012 VW Eos 2.85
2011 Kia Sportage 2.87
2011 Chevy Aveo5 2.89
2012 Hyundai Accent 2.98
2011 Mazda CX-7 3.08
2011 Nissan Versa 3.08
2011 Kia Soul 3.11
2011 Chrysler 200 SC 3.17
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 3.17

The complete list can also be found at

– By: Alexandra Koken