Fuel Economy Number One Factor for Car Buyers: Consumer Reports

Colum Wood
by Colum Wood

Fuel economy is now the number one purchase consideration for new car shoppers, sparking a massive swing in interest for alternative fuel vehicles.

According to the latest survey by Consumer Reports, the single largest factor for buying a new car is high gas mileage. In total, 37 percent of respondents chose fuel economy, with quality placing a distance second at 17 percent. Going down the list, safety came in at 16 percent, value at 14 percent and performance at 6 percent.

“These results make it clear that high fuel prices are continuing to impact driver behavior and influencing future purchase considerations,” said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy auto editor. “While quality, safety and value are still important, this may be foreshadowing a market shift by folks seeking relief at the pump.”

Perhaps more shocking than how much consumers rank fuel economy over quality is their intention to switch to alternative fuels in order to save at the pump. In total, almost three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents said they would consider an alternative fuel vehicle as for their next car purchase, with younger buyers more receptive than older ones.

Not surprisingly, owners of large SUVs responded as the most likely to downsize in order to find better fuel economy, followed by mid-size SUVs and large sedans.

In total, two-thirds of buyers said they expect their next car to get better fuel economy, with 90 percent of buyers citing the rising cost of gas as their reason for wanting a more efficient vehicle. Other reasons cited include the decision to be more environmentally friendly (62 percent) as well as a desire to be less dependent on foreign oil (56 percent).

With rising gas prices, the switch to a car with better fuel economy sooner than later may seem like a wise decision, but according to Consumer Reports, you’re likely to save more money by sticking with your current car if it’s less than three years old.

Colum Wood
Colum Wood

With AutoGuide from its launch, Colum previously acted as Editor-in-Chief of Modified Luxury & Exotics magazine where he became a certifiable car snob driving supercars like the Koenigsegg CCX and racing down the autobahn in anything over 500 hp. He has won numerous automotive journalism awards including the Best Video Journalism Award in 2014 and 2015 from the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Colum founded Geared Content Studios, VerticalScope's in-house branded content division and works to find ways to integrate brands organically into content.

More by Colum Wood

Join the conversation
  • Stephen Marcus Colmar Stephen Marcus Colmar on May 22, 2012

    You will never save enough money on gas to justify purchasing a car you didn't like.

  • Kdawg Kdawg on May 22, 2012

    Wasn't there a recent report saying less than 40% of hybrid owners buy another one? Seems to conflict with this report.