DAMASCUS, Md. – You tell us what oil prices are likely to do in the weeks and months ahead, and you will get the title of official Swami from our road test department.
The reality is, that no one knows where prices are going next, but the fear is that the direction will be up. In the interim, judging from our e-mails, consumers continue to think the price of gas is too high as things stand now. So we are back with our suggestions on gas sipping cars you can turn to when the station attendant starts calling you by your first name. In no particular order, we like:
A fun little runabout that is EPA-rated at up to 33/38 miles a gallon. This is a great design that not only sips gas but allows you to carry as much stuff as any vehicle on the road with these petite dimensions. (A total of 41.9 cubic feet of storage space with the back seats down.) Plus there is the Honda reputation for long life.
We see these subcompacts virtually everywhere we go from upscale Potomac, Maryland (very rich) to more real world neighborhoods. There is no doubt that Toyota has a winner here. The EPA rates the Yaris at 34/40 miles a gallon and like the Fit, the Yaris carries the promise of outstanding durability. If you want to comparison shop, the Nissan Versa (30/36 mpg max) is worth a close look.
This little bug is probably one of the most fun cars that you can buy while still saving on gas. Many forget that the base model Mini is EPA rated at up to 32 to 40 miles a gallon with a stick shift.
This little fly of an automobile will test the nation's appetite for what are known as city cars. The Smart car has virtually taken over in Rome where congestion is legendary, and Londoners say you can park it on your door mat. Backers say the little 8.8 foot long vehicle will get 40 miles a gallon. It comes to the US in early 2008. Backer Roger Penske assures us that the Smart will meet all relevant U.S. safety standards.
All of the above cars run on regular gas and are not hybrids that will cost you more to purchase. The argument is still on regarding whether you will ever get that money back in gas savings, but probably will not.
Top among the hybrids is the long running Toyota Prius, which should get you into the upper 30 to low 40 mile gallon range. The Honda Civic hybrid will deliver about the same mileage. The Ford Escape hybrid, at about 30 miles a gallon, is not a bad choice for those who have to haul more stuff.
There is the promise of diesel powered cars returning to the U.S. as well, cars that can meet the pollution standards of all 50 states. But diesels have never really generated the broad support in the U.S. that they have in Europe. We can say, without a doubt, readers of this column love 'em.
One the other end of the scale, is the 12 mile a gallon (in the city) Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. Having eyed one at the Detroit show under the steely gaze of an attendant, we can say without a doubt that the RR with the teak wood deck out back is quite a car. It sells for $412,000 and weighs in at 5,800 pounds. So the cost per pound is ...
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