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Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Non-Hybrid Cars
People buy hybrids because they think the “H” word is synonymous with fuel savings. While that’s true, hybrid appeal leaves a wide grey area between mildly improved mpgs and real returns at the pump, not to mention the higher cost of entry into the gasoline-electric segment.
Toyota’s success with the Prius often leads people to believe that anything called a hybrid offers immensely improved fuel economy. Not so. Take the Honda Insight. It even looks like a Prius, but the two are on different planes.
Then there’s the Chevrolet Malibu Eco, which gathered negative press and was even named the most “disliked car” of 2012 by Fortune magazine.
Why is everyone gaga for hybrids when many would be happy with reasonable mileage? The mystery remains, but in the spirit of spending less time at the pump, AutoGuide has compiled a list of the 10 most fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars of 2013.
The list excludes electric cars and uses EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimated average fuel economy figures.
Disclaimer: As many know, the EPA’s utopian estimates are to be taken with a grain of salt. This story uses them for consistency. Please don’t write angry letters if your car falls short.
Honorable mentions: both the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Cruze Clean Diesel deserve to be mentioned. The diesel Cruze will be available in dealers soon and according to the EPA, offers 46 mpg on the highway, but falls just short of the list for combined fuel economy. In the same way, the Cruze Eco uses clever gearing and cuts weight to save gas.
The move towards increased fuel efficiency has been seen all over the automotive industry, with the focus shifting to smaller cars, and higher output small engines to keep fuel costs down for the consumer, and a study done by industry analysts Baum & Associates reveals that the average MPG for cars sold between January and June 2012 was 23.8.
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute has been tracking the average overall fuel economy of vehicles sold in the U.S. since October 2007, and while the general curve has been towards more fuel efficient vehicles being sold, the opposite happened this past June.
With gas prices falling for this first time in months, consumers are obviously feeling more comfortable buying a less fuel efficient vehicle. The average in June was 23.6 mpg, down 0.1 mpg from May and down 0.5 mpg from the peak in March. Not a substantial amount, but enough to show that fuel economy is a large factor when it comes to buying a new car.
Even the amount of travel Americans are doing is increasing, going up by 0.9 percent in the first four months of 2012 compared to the first four months of 2011.
According to the University of Michigan, the average fuel economy of all the cars sold in April was 23.9 mpg, a 0.2 decrease from March.
The study indicates that American car buyers are still conflicted in the showrooms. While many fuel efficient small vehicles celebrated good sales last month, vehicles such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Titan were in high demand as well, showing that Americans still have the need for big cars, and will sacrifice fuel economy to get them.
The sales also reflect the slight reduction in gas prices we saw at the end of April, as the price of gas dictates what people buy. This comes as a surprise as analysts are still predicting gas prices to soar in the coming months, causing consumers to turn to fuel efficient alternatives.
Since the study began in October of 2007, our vehicles have become roughly 14 percent more fuel efficient, but they still have a long way to go if gas prices keep on creeping up.
While both vehicles are designed for efficiency, they use different means to achieve that end. The Swift Range Extender goes about this with a strategy similar to the Chevy Volt — by using a mostly electric drivetrain that also packs a tiny 660 cc three-cylinder engine.
The G70 concept (pictured above), which is perhaps the more interesting of the two, is designed to tread lightly on the environment without such technology. Instead, Suzuki decided to build it as an ultra-light vehicle that doesn’t need much gas because there isn’t a lot to push around. The G70 only weighs a bit over 1600 pounds and is shaped to minimize drag. The company claims that it’s actually 10 percent less wind resistant than any of their current “A” segment models.
We’ll be covering the Geneva Auto Show next month and bringing you the latest as it unfolds.
In its annual Outlook, ExxonMobil discusses the future of global energy demands and consumption and in this year’s edition, ExxonMobil believes that half of the vehicles on the road in 2040 will be hybrids.
We personally believe hybrids will rule the road long before 2040, especially when you have vehicles like Lincoln‘s 2012 MKZ Hybrid being sold for the same price as its gas-only variant.
Currently hybrid vehicles only make up one-percent of total vehicle sales, but with government fuel economy standards on the rise, more and more manufacturers are developing electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles in order to meet the new standards. ExxonMobil is also predicting that electric vehicles will sport an inflation of $12,000 or so compared to its gas-only counterpart now and in the immediate future.
But we would argue against that, considering how quickly technology has already advanced with electric vehicles and the parts that are being used to build them. Electric vehicles right now carry about a $12,000 inflation compared to a conventional version, so we find it hard to believe that manufacturers won’t find a way to cut costs within the next five years, never mind 30.
They are great to putter around the neighborhood in, or zip to the store to pick up a few groceries. But low-speed vehicles (LSV) and mini-trucks are no match for regular traffic when it comes to an accident.
Recent crash tests preformed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) illustrate what happens when the two types of vehicle collide – and the results aren’t pretty. Although many states allow LSVs (also known as neighborhood electric vehicles) to share the road with regular traffic because they reduce emissions and cut fuel use, they don’t have to meet the basic safety standards that cars and pickups do.
“By allowing LSVs and minitrucks on more and more kinds of roads, states are carving out exceptions to 40 years of auto safety regulations that save lives,” says David Zuby, the IIHS’s chief research officer. “It’s a troubling trend that flies in the face of the work insurers, automakers, and the federal government have done to reduce crash risk.”
You can find LSVs pretty much everywhere in the U.S., on any road with a speed limit of 35 mph or lower. Their rapid surge in popularity is evident, with drivers and policy makers alike. In eight years, the number of states that allow LSVs on the road as risen from just over a dozen states to 46. Primarily intended for recreational purposes within retirement or other planned communities with golf courses, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set the standard for LSVs in 1998. It’s important to note that mini-trucks weren’t even on the radar when these standards were introduced
Both types of vehicles are now allowed to share the same roads as other cars, trucks and SUVs, so it’s no surprise that no good will come when the two types collide with regular traffic. If you’re planning on purchasing an LSV or mini-truck, Zuby recommends spending more on a standard pickup to get crash protection and a vehicle that’s suitable to drive on all roads. If you’ looking to shrink you environmental footprint, a better choice for regular traffic is a crashworthy hybrid like the Toyota Prius or another fuel-efficient car.
[Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]