Because of high gas prices, more consumers are looking for fuel-efficient vehicles. Once cost-prohibitive, it is now more affordable to purchase a vehicle that gets more than 40 miles per gallon. Although several vehicles that meet this criteria are available worldwide, only a few were available in the United States as of October 2010.
The Prius is a gas/electric hybrid vehicle that boasts an EPA-rated fuel efficiency of 51 MPG city and 48 MPG highway for the 2010 model. It has been the most fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle since 2007. It is equipped with a 1.8-liter L4 engine and a lightweight hybrid system. It has three drive modes -- EV, ECO and Power -- that provide all-electric power for short trips under 25 mph, optimum fuel efficiency and high acceleration, respectively. The cost in October 2010 ranged between $21,000 and $28,010, depending on the submodel.
The Insight, another hybrid vehicle, yields 40 MPG city, 43 MPG highway for its 2010 model. Like other hybrids, it has a regenerative brake system that charges the battery when the brakes are applied. It has a 1.3-liter engine and a 10-kilowatt DC electric motor. Its cost ranged between $19,800 and $32,100 in October 2010.
Honda Civic Hybrid
The 2011 Civic Hybrid has an EPA-rated efficiency of 40 MPG city and 43 MPG highway. It has a 110-horsepower, 1.3-liter gas engine and a 20-horsepower electric motor that weighs in at just under 80 pounds. Its cost ranged between $23,950 and $27,150 in October 2010.
Other Fuel-Efficient Cars
Other vehicle models, including the Citroën C2 from France, Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion and the Toyota iQ, get gas mileage as high as 57 MPG; however, none of these were available in the United States as of 2010. It is primarily a diesel issue with these vehicles. U.S. emissions standards for diesel vehicles are the most stringent in the world, making it difficult for these car models to be sold here because they would require costly modifications.