How to Choose a Fuel-efficient Vehicle
When shopping for a new car or truck, there are four generalcharacteristics that matter when it comes to fuel economy:
VehicleSize-Choose a new vehicle that is appropriately sized for yourpassenger and cargo needs. For the most part, larger vehicles requiremore fuel because they have to carry the additional weight associatedwith their increased size and passenger/cargo capacity. Larger vehiclesalso move through the air less efficiently (increased aerodynamicdrag), at the expense of fuel economy. If you require more than5-passenger seating, consider a 7-passenger minivan as an alternativeto a sport utility vehicle. Minivans are often more fuel efficient. Or,if you need a full-size SUV, consider a full-size hybrid such asthe GMC YukonHybrid or ChevroletTahoe Hybrid. Pickup trucks offerexcellent towing ability and utility, but the new car-based crossovertrucks, such as the Honda Ridgeline, might be sufficient for yourneedsand be more economical.
Engine Type-Automakers offer gasoline,
diesel, natural gas and hybridpowerplants today. Hybrid vehicles combine a small-displacementgasoline engine with an electric-assist motor-a very fuel-efficientconfiguration. Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Priusand FordFusion Hybrid offer excellent city and highway fuel economy. Dieselisan excellent alternative for larger vehicles ( Mercedes-BenzGL 350BlueTEC, BMW X535d, and Volkswagen Touareg Diesel), or highwaycommuting (VolkswagenJetta TDI, AudiA3 TDI). The typical dieselpowerplant has plenty of power, yet delivers impressive economy.Vehicles that run on natural gas ( Honda Civic GX)deliver lowemissions, but fuel economy (and fuel availability) is a potentialdownside.
EngineSize-Unless you do a lot of towing, don't always assume you needthe largest engine. Automakers often offer 4- or 6-cylinderalternatives to their 6- and 8-cylinder flagship powerplants. Thanks todirect injection and turbocharging, these smaller-displacement enginesdeliver much more power than their larger predecessors. (e.g.,
BMW'snew turbocharged 3.0-liter 6-cylinder is more powerful than theautomaker's last-generation 4.4-liter V-8-and it delivers better fueleconomy). However, always check the fuel economy sticker. Thanks to newtechnology, some vehicles, such as the Ford Explorerand BuickLaCrosse, earn better mileage with the larger optional enginethanks toadvanced fuel injection and more sophisticated transmissions.
Transmission Type-Manual transmissions used to be thefuel-efficientchoice when the industry was dominated by 3- and 4-speed automatics.Today, computer-controlled automatic transmissions with 6, 7, or even 8speeds often outperform a traditional manual stick shift-inacceleration and fuel economy-thereby eliminating any compromise. Whenyou are seeking a vehicle with a choice between a manual and anautomatic transmission, check the window sticker for the most accuratempg information. In some cases, modern automatics can deliver bettermileage than their stick-shift counterparts.
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