A Ron Amadon’s Roads Special
Saving You Money at the Pump
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD – With gas station signs bringing motorists bad news on seemingly every block, it is time to look at some economical new vehicles that promise to ease the burden on the march to what could be widespread $4-plus pump prices.
How does 50 mpg sound these days? That’s what I got on a long interstate trip from Maryland to northern Florida. The Prius gobbled up all that my wife and I could stuff in and proved to be a comfortable interstate cruiser.
If fuel economy is a major issue, one might consider the Prius C rated at 53 mpg city, 46 on the highway at the loss of some refinement from the plain Prius. The wagon version of Prius, the V, gets 44 city and 40 highway. It should be noted that the Camry LW Hybrid returns an EPA rated 43 city and 39 highway. My recommendation would be the plain Prius.
The Civic Hybrid got a 44 mpg rating from the EPA right across the board with the sportier but slow CRZ coupe rated at 31-28 mpg while the Honda Insight is rated at 41-44 mpg. If an Accord is more to your liking, the plug-in hybrid model is rated at 47-46 mpg city/highway. My recommendation would be the Civic.
The jazzy looking and entry level Accent will get you 37 mpg out on the highway, (these are the amended figures), and 28 mpg around town. You might shop the Kia Rio if that styling appeals. Guts-wise they are the same car. Moving upscale, the Elantra with the 6-speed automatic hits 38 mpg on the highway and 28 around town. It comes as both a coupe and sedan. The Elantra is a neat car and can be fun to drive, but my choice out of the Hyundai garage would be the Sonata with 24-35 mpg. You should also take a gander at its cousin, the Kia Optima.
Another jazzy looking car on the economy list is the Nissan Sentra. With a 6-speed manual the Sentra is rated at 27-36 mpg and with its recent restyling offers more room and lighter weight. Add the FE+ package, and economy increases by four to 40 mpg highway. Prices start at $16,000. Another fuel sipper at Nissan is the Versa good for 27 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway. For those looking for a good set of wheels at a starting price of $11,990 for a bare bones model to $13,790 for a more upscale version, the Versa is worth a look. Those seeking something different might consider the Juke at 27-32 mpg with the CVT transmission. A base Juke, (sounds like some sort of musical instrument), starts at just shy of $20,000.
A most delightful and economical car from the Blue Oval is the C-Max hybrid. It is EPA rated at 47 mpg in both city and highway driving and proved to be a quiet and spacious wagonette during my weeklong test. Under ideal conditions one can achieve a driving range of 570 miles before filling up. Prices start at $25,200. Also worth a look is the Ford Fiesta rated at 28-38 mpg and a starting MSRP of $13,200.
The 2.0-liter TDI Diesel Golf will return up to 42 mpg on the highway and 37 mpg around town. Yet it should be noted that the price of diesel fuel in many locations can be higher than unleaded regular, something to be considered by economy minded shoppers. Diesel models start at $24,495. A gas powered Golf with a six-speed automatic is rated at 24-31 mpg with a base of $24,235.
Those looking for a truck with some economy in mind might consider the Toyota Tacoma with a 2.5-liter 4 rated at a combined city/highway 23 mpg. The Nissan Frontier came in at 21 mpg combined with a base price of just over $19,000.
For those looking at crossovers, the Ford Escape with the 2.5-liter 4 gets a combined rating of 32 mpg… the Lexus RX450h for upscale buyers comes in at a combined 29 mpg … the delightful Mazda CX-5 gets 29 mpg … and the Toyota Highlander, always a best seller in this category, comes in as a hybrid at 28 mpg.
And among larger vehicles, there is the Honda Pilot at 18 mpg, the Jeep Grand Cherokee at 18 – same for the Chevy Equinox.
And in the “Doubt You Will Get This but Here We Go Anyway” department, the Mustang V8 is rated at 22 mpg combined city/highway with the Corvette Z06 at 19 mpg and the Camaro V8 at 18 mpg.