5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports lists well-priced, fuel-efficient cars

Posted May 26, 2011

Gas prices have dropped a little, but many people would still like to have a more fuel-efficient car.

Consumer Reports checks the gas mileage of every car it tests, and recently came up with a list of some of the most fuel-efficient cars and SUVs on the road.

Consumer Reports engineers say the Prius is the clear gas-saving leader: it gets 44 miles per gallon in tests. It costs anywhere from about $22,000 to $30,000.

The Hyundai Elantra is not a hybrid, but tests show the compact car gets an impressive 29 miles per gallon. And at about $18,000, Consumer Reports' Tom Mutchler says it's a bargain compared to most vehicles, "If you want a larger car like a family sedan there are still some great gas-saving options."

Starting at $20,000, the Nissan Altima gets 26 miles per gallon and is roomy enough to fit five comfortably.

But what if you need an even bigger vehicle? The Toyota Highlander Hybrid tops SUVs, getting 27 miles per gallon. But its sticker price is steep at almost $50,000. Mutchler suggests a compromise. "Another great choice is a Subaru Outback. It's more of station wagon than an SUV, but it gets 24 miles per gallon, has all-wheel drive and a really roomy back seat."

And at about $24,000, the Subaru Outback is much more reasonably priced than the Highlander.

Many people just have to have an SUV, but want better mileage. Consumer Reports recommends the Ford Escape Hybrid. It starts at $22,000 and gets 26 miles per gallon.

And a reminder as you hit the road for the holiday weekend. There are some simple things you can do to save gas.

  • Don't idle: The general rule-of-thumb is turn off your car if you know you'll be stopped for more than 30 seconds.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated. Use the pressure recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer, not the maximum pressure embossed on the tire.
  • Slow down. Slowing from 75 to 55 mph boosted gas mileage 33 percent in Consumer Reports tests on a family sedan and a large SUV.
  • Avoid jack rabbit starts and stops. In Consumer Reports tests, frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced mileage by 2 to 3 mpg.
  • And drive light! That means get the junk OUT of your trunk, and even take off your roof rack when you're not using it. That lightened load reduces drag, and increases fuel economy.

Click here for more gas saving ideas from Consumer Reports. 


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  • orangemoonlite Jun 1, 2011

    @JoCo Gun Owner:
    Isn't that the funniest thing! My brother-in-law bought a Prius earlier this year & when he mentioned getting about 40-ish mpg, I laughed & said, "What? I thought the new vehicles, esp. hybrids, were getting better mileage than old cars. The 1986 Honda I had would get 48 in town, 55 on highways! $5 of gas in 1991 would get me thru 3 weeks of work & play!"

  • Arapaloosa Jun 1, 2011

    "Slow down. Slowing from 75 to 55 mph boosted gas mileage 33 percent"

    Not if you draft ;) I got behind a tractor-trailer one day on 95 in my minivan and reset my fuel econ display... I was averaging mid-30's going well above 75 mph heehee

  • Arapaloosa Jun 1, 2011

    The new Corvette gets 26 mpg, and it has 430 hp!

  • Arapaloosa Jun 1, 2011

    The age of fuel-efficiency passed us by... 1986 Honda CRX HF got 51 mpg. 1988 Chevrolet Sprint got 45 mpg. 1968 VW bug got 30 mpg. And all of these cars had carburetors, not fuel injection!

  • MudLife May 31, 2011

    I know i'm gonna drop from 75 to 55 on I-40 yeah right! Not in this lifetime.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC May 31, 2011

    I like my big-honkin', gas-guzzlin' SUV.

  • bopeace1999 May 31, 2011

    None of these seem like good deals to me. Over-priced and not so great mileage.

  • barrykit2000 May 31, 2011

    What about the Chevy Cruze Eco. It gets over 40 MPG and is a very comfortable vehicle. there are also some excellent diesel cars available that were not even mentioned. This article seems biased towards Asian cars. Why even mention a vehicle that costs $50K and economy in the same sentence??

  • terrible terrier May 30, 2011

    I drive a hybrid Ford Fusion. Averaging (all kinds of driving) almost 40mpg, yet have the ride and size of mid-size sedan.

  • kindness4 May 27, 2011

    You may laugh, but I drive a SMART Car and I love it. Only 3 cyl. and holds 1 passenger, but I can put in 11 bags of groceries...and I fill the tank (max 8 gallons) only once a month.