Consumer Reports Names the Best New Cars for Fuel Economy

With high pump prices, Consumer Reports says that the most effective way to cut your gasoline use is to buy a more fuel-efficient car. CR named the best cars for fuel economy of those recently tested by the magazine in its own real-world fuel-economy tests. Also listed are the ones that got the lowest mpg in each class.

“Hybrid and diesel vehicles provide better fuel economy than conventional cars, but they usually cost more to buy, and as gas prices rise, the pay-back time gets shorter,” said David Champion, Senior Director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. “All-wheel drive usually reduces gas mileage by about 2 mpg while a manual transmission can improve fuel economy by 1 to 2 mpg.”

The article also features a list of the best used cars for fuel economy.

Below are recommended models in six categories that provide the best fuel economy. To be recommended, they met Consumer Reports’ stringent requirements for test performance, reliability, and safety. So, not only do they provide excellent fuel economy for their class, but they’re solid overall choices. The full list of vehicles is available in the magazine’s July issue on sale June 7th. All the reports are also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org. Updated daily, it’s the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

Best Subcompact car for fuel economy: Honda Fit $16,020, 30 mpg  
Worst in class: Chevrolet Aveo LT: 25 mpg  
 
Best Small Wagons and Hatchbacks: Volkswagen Golf TDI (Diesel, manual), $24,764, 38 mpg  
Worst in class: Scion xB, Subaru Impreza Outback Sport (AWD):23 mpg  
 
Best Small Sedans: Toyota Corolla LE, $18,404, 32 mpg  
Worst in class: Subaru Impreza 2.5i, 24 mpg  
 
Best Family Car: Toyota Prius IV (Hybrid), $24,750, 44 mpg  
Worst in class: Ford Fusion SEL (V6, AWD), Chevrolet Impala LTZ (V6), Mazda6 V6: 20 mpg  
 
Best Upscale/ Sports Sedan: Lexus HS 250 h (Hybrid), $38,939, 31 mpg  
Worst in class: Lincoln MKZ: 20 mpg  
 
Best Small SUV: Ford Escape Hybrid, $32,575, 26 mpg  
Worst in class: Dodge Nitro SLT (3.7 liters), Jeep Liberty Sport 16 mpg  
 

Some of the Best ways to save gas

Before you leave:

  • Check your tires. Underinflated tires require more energy to roll along, which eats up more fuel.  Make sure your tires’ air pressure is set to the automaker’s recommended level (see the owner’s manual, not the maximum pressure printed on the tires’ side.
  • Get the right rental. If you plan on renting a car, try to reserve one with good gas mileage. For about the same rate, for example, you could get a 26-mpg Nissan Altima instead of a 20-mpg Chevrolet Impala. Or you could get a 32-mpg Toyota Corolla instead of a 24-mpg Chevy Cobalt.

On the road:

  • Watch your speed. The faster you drive on the highway, the worse your gas mileage will be. CR’s tested Toyota Camry dropped 5 mpg when testers increased cruising speed from 55 mpg to 65. Driving at 75 mph cut it by an additional 5 mpg.
  • Drive smoothly.  Avoid hard acceleration and braking when possible. In the Camry, frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced fuel economy by 2 to 3 mpg.
  • Don’t be a drag. Don’t add to your car’s aerodynamic drag by carrying things on top of the roof if you don’t have to. When CR’s testers installed a large car-top carrier on the Camry, gas mileage dropped by a notable 6 mpg when driving at 65 mph.
  • Skip the gas-saving gadgets.  After testing several devices that claimed to improve fuel efficiency, CR’s testers have yet to find one that provides a significant difference in gas mileage or acceleration.

With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union, the world’s largest independent, not-for-profit, product-testing organization. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Website and owns and operates a 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut. The organization’s auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645 or visit www.ConsumerReports.org.

JULY 2011

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