03/09/2012 12:22 pm ET

Green Car of the Year Winners 2006-2012 (PHOTOS)

For the last seven years, Green Car Journal has recognized the best in eco-friendly motoring via the magazine’s Green Car of the Year contest. Each year the magazine assembles a judging panel comprising automotive experts, journalists and environmental advocates. The sole task of the panel is to determine which Green Car of the Year finalist deserves recognition as the best of the best for that model year.

Green Car Journal started handing out the award with model year 2006 vehicles. Over the years the magazine has recognized several hybrids, two clean diesels, a plug-in vehicle, a natural gas vehicle and even a full-sized SUV as the Green Car of the Year.

List and captions courtesy of Mother Nature Network

Groundbreaking green cars