With the growth of the hybrid and electric car fleets have come tremendous improvements in fuel efficiency. Where once ever smaller and lighter gas powered cars seemed to be the only way to increase fuel efficiency, we’re now seeing the results of decades of experimentation and innovation with whole new methods of propulsion.
Do you plan to take advantage of more fuel efficient cars?
Why worry about fuel efficiency?
It seems that every few years we get a wake up call reminding us why fuel efficiency matters. Prices surge and everyone is looking for higher fuel efficiency. But then prices drop and stabilize and we go back to our gas guzzling ways as greater “luxury” becomes the new obsession yet again.
We’re about due for another spike in gas prices though. The last one was in 2008, and took gas prices well above the $4 mark. Already, gas prices are hovering close to $4 so it wouldn’t take much to throw us back into a full-blown energy panic. There’s uncertainty in much of the oil producing regions of the world, including the “Arab Spring” which is nearing the two year mark. And then there’s Iran, who’s always a good reason for a price spike.
If you’re buying a new car, fuel efficiency should be at the top of your list of “must haves”.
The 10 best fuel efficient cars for 2012
Fortunately, there are more and better choices in the fuel efficiency department than ever. Here is a list of the 10 best fuel efficient cars for 2012. You’ll notice that the list is completely dominated by hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
- Mitsubishi i – 126 City/99 Highway
- 2012 Nissan Leaf (electric) – 106 City/92 Highway
- Ford Transit Connect Electric – 62 City/62 Highway
- 2012 Chevrolet Volt – 58 City/62 Highway
- Toyota Prius – 51 city, 48 highway
- 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid – 44 City/44 Highway
- 2012 Toyota Prius v – 44 City/40 Highway
- Lexus CT200h – 43 City/40 Highway
- 2012 Honda Insight – 41 City/44 Highway
- 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE – 43 City/39 Highway
Hybrids and electric cars have come a long way
Though the hybrids and electrics make up virtually all of the ten most fuel efficient cars, they haven’t been without their problems and that has kept them from being more popular than they are. But two of the biggest obstacles are now being addressed.
Range. Since hitting the market, one of the major concerns with hybrid/electric cars has been that they have very limited range. A car that can only go less than 100 miles on a charge means that it’s only good for commuting and local driving. Long distance trips were out of the question.
That problem hasn’t been remedied across the board, but progress is being made. The Chevrolet Volt allows a total distance of 379 miles (gas and electric), which is well above any other electric or hybrid model. The top rated Mitsubishi i, by contrast, has a range of just 70 miles. We can expect that other vehicles will now be forced to increase their range to complete with the Volt.
Price. Until recently, most new car buyers were priced out of the hybrid/electric car market, but prices have come down. The Mitsubishi i—lightly loaded—comes with a price of $29,125, and that’s further reduced by the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit for fuel efficient vehicles. That brings the effective cost of the car well down into the low 20s.
The Nissan Leaf starts at $32,790, with the tax credit bringing it down into the mid-20s. The Honda Insight has a base price of just $18,500. That puts the price of fuel efficient cars into the moderate range where many people can afford to buy.
Yet another reason to buy a fuel efficient car
Rising gas prices play havoc with car prices. The two primary results of high gas prices on cars are 1) less fuel efficient vehicles drop in value, and 2) prices increase for more fuel efficient cars.
By buying a fuel efficient car now you’ll get in before higher gas prices force car prices higher. Just as important, it will give you a chance to sell your less fuel efficient vehicle before prices on them crash.
How important do you think fuel efficiency is when buying a new car right now?