Back in the seventies, everyone freaked out when gas prices soared. There were long lines, odds and evens days, protests, and, believe it or not, people actually stopped buying big cars -- turning instead to small imports that maximized fuel efficiency.
Yeah. Here we go again.
As we climb into the 21st century, we’re at it again, scrambling for high mileage cars and dumping our low mileage beasts, all while moaning and whining over the high price we pay at the pump. We especially like to complain about how no one told us this was going to happen, and how, well, it’s all a sinister plot by the Government, Big Oil and the Automakers. You just can’t boost the price of our juice like that, or cut off access to our sweet Black Gold, without some anger and frustration seeping through.
Actually, all in all, we’ve been remarkably patient: through the first quarter of 2006, car buyers did not run for hybrids and compacts, as many feared. Instead, flat to moderate gas prices helped boost large cars like the new 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, an excellent new vehicle cursed with poor fuel economy. Everything seemed pretty mellow, with GM and Ford getting into the act and posting some good sales numbers.
Then March hit; and our pace to those hybrids and compacts quickened as prices soared and the President made headlines by saying, in essence, that high gas prices were here to stay. Talk about rubbing dirt in a wound: at least Bush didn’t lecture us on the price of gas in Europe, which was recently selling for about $6.62 per gallon. Whining means never having to admit that others have it worse than you, of course, and there’s plenty of misery at $3 a gallon, thanks much. As a result, people have started to think hard about fuel economy, and the realization has perhaps dawned that 15 miles per gallon or less is just plain frivolous spending, and not too smart, either. With small cars beginning to take off and a host of new subcompacts ready to be introduced by import automakers, the change in mood is just now beginning to really show up in terms of hot-selling vehicles. Based on a study of ten small cars, over the past three months, in fact, there is a significant trend toward small cars with good gas mileage – not just hybrids, or smaller SUVs and crossovers, but small cars so popular in – you guessed it – Europe. The success of the Toyota Yaris as the Echo replacement is one such vehicle, and Nissan has great hopes for their Versa subcompact, as does Honda for the Fit. All show significant improvements in overall performance, safety and interior room, which makes the purchase of a small car palatable for more people.
But not all people.
Some people need SUVs and larger cars, in fact, many people do. Achieving an efficient fuel economy life is more complicated than jogging down to the local Toyota dealer and buying a subcompact, so to help those who have needs that go beyond we put together ten smart deals that are also efficient at the pump. Our list includes cars we’d recommend, from compacts to sedans and SUVs, vehicles that have a decent rebate or finance rate, good crash test ratings and get at least 24 miles per gallon.