Are we about to see a swing of the pendulum back to fuel-efficient vehicles? Will they sell on a sustained basis? Only time will tell, but several factors may point to another increase in consumer interest in more fuel-efficient vehicles. These factors include the worst recession in recent memory, a government-driven effort to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, new government incentives for consumers to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, and the inevitable return of higher gas prices.
Fortunately, prospective buyers of gas-sipping vehicles have more such vehicles to choose from than a year or two ago; more are on the way and under development.
Let’s take a look of nine of these fuel sippers.
Toyota Prius – The 2010 Prius, shown, is still the gold standard among hybrid cars, delivering a 51-mpg city, 48-mpg highway mileage rating. The air conditioning system can run with the engine off so you can adjust the interior temperature before getting in. The estimated base price is $23,000
Toyota Camry Hybrid – The 2009 Camry with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has an EPA fuel economy rating of 33 mpg city, 34 mpg highway. This hybrid shows you where the power is coming from at any given moment—the engine, the electric motor, or both. Every Camry has 7 airbags, 4-wheel disc and anti-lock brakes, and an impressive array of comfort and convenience features. The base price is $26,150.
Toyota Yaris – The 2009 Yaris 3-door liftback has an affordable base price—$12,205—and a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder, 106-horsepower engine with an EPA rating of 29 mpg city, 36 mpg highway. The front-wheel-drive base model has a 5-speed manual transmission, folding rear bench seat, and more.
Honda Insight – The 2010 Insight, a compact, is smaller and more Spartan inside than the Prius, and offers an attractive base price of $19,800 for the LX model. Thrifty buyers will appreciate the 40-mpg city, 43-mpg highway mileage rating. The car’s Ecological Drive Assist System provides feedback on your driving style to help you improve your mileage.
Honda Civic Hybrid – The 2009 Civic hybrid uses an electric motor and a 4-cylinder engine to deliver 110 horsepower and a 40-mpg city and 45-mpg highway rating. At steady speeds below 35 mph, it can run solely on the electric motor. The base price is $23,550.
Honda Fit – The 2009 Honda Fit offers spirited fuel-sipping performance from its 117-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine. Front- and side-impact air bags, anti-lock braking system, and active front head restraints are standard. The EPA estimated fuel rating is 27-mpg city, 33-mpg highway. The base price is $14,750.
Ford Fusion Hybrid – Ford claims the 2010 Fusion hybrid is “The Most Fuel-Efficient Midsize Sedan In America.” The company also says its hybrid “Travels over 700 City Miles on a Single Tank.” Backing up these claims is a 191-horsepower hybrid system that provides fuel economy of 41-mpg city and 36-mpg highway. The hybrid includes most all of the safety, comfort, and convenience features of other Fusion models. Its base price is $27,995.
Ford Escape Hybrid – The 2009 front-wheel-drive Escape hybrid combines the cargo capability of an SUV with hybrid fuel efficiency of 34-mpg city, 31-mpg highway. The hybrid has a 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor and can produce 177 horsepower. A four-wheel-drive hybrid model, 29-mpg city/27-mpg highway, is available. The front-wheel-drive model has a base price of $27,445, the four-wheel-drive model’s base price is $29,715.
Volkswagen Jetta TDI – The 2009 Jetta TDI has a 4-cylinder, turbocharged, clean diesel engine, 6-speed manual transmission and produces 140 horsepower. Fuel economy is rated at 30-mpg city, 41-mpg highway. Every Jetta is equipped with 45 safety features. The TDI engine is cleaner than conventional diesels, emitting 95 percent less soot. The base price is $22,970.
Ever-more-efficient vehicles are in development. Some are plug-in hybrids, some are fueled partially or completely on biofuels, and some are battery-powered electric cars.