New CR Release Details Top Gas-Saving Rides

If you’re hunting for fuel efficiency, you’re not alone: floods of media reports clearly show a large trend in American auto customers toward the highest mpg and lowest gas prices when it comes to buying a new or used car. This kind of consumer pressure had been building for a while, with climate control and a lower carbon footprint an issue for many consumers, but spiking gas prices, whether from market speculation or real shortfalls, seem to have put demand for gas-saving vehicles over the edge. But which cars are really more fuel-efficient? Now, almost every car maker is touting the low fuel costs of their wares. Early this month, Consumer Reports came out with a definitive guide to high mpg in every car class that will shed some light on the issue.

It’s no surprise that Japanese car makers Honda and Toyota dominate this list, starting with the prize for most fuel efficient subcompact going to the Honda Fit (30 mpg). Toyota gets best small sedan with the Toyota Corolla (32 mpg), and best family car with the Toyota Prius (44 mpg), a hybrid which has stomped all over the competition for years. The key to winning in this market segment, it seems, is getting there first: with other makers’ hybrids still in production, the Prius began to pop up in American driveways years ago, and now, with so many used models on the market, “regular folks” can spin down to the dealer’s lot and pick one up without breaking the bank.

The flashy Lexus badge also garners top upscale/sport sedan with the Lexus HS 250 horse model, with 31 mpg. German auto maker Volkswagen gets the award for best hatchback with the tiny VW Golf TDI model, which utilizes the VW traditional diesel engine for an impressive 38 mpg.

But an American car company does get one nod from Consumer Reports: the Ford Escape Hybrid wins best SUV, showing that domestic manufacturers can make fuel efficient products well. The Escape in all of its models is becoming a favorite for new or used car buyers who would rather buy from an American company. Over time, hybrids like the Escape or GM’s Chevrolet Volt might end up being as common on American roads as the Prius.

The thing to remember when you go to the lot is that these fuel efficient vehicles are going to be in high demand, so don’t go unarmed. Get good information on the latest comparison pricing, and figure out your financing scenario before you choose your car. Doing your homework on a purchase can knock your monthly payments down by quite a lot, and help you manage the ownership costs of a green vehicle.