While some states are seeing a decrease in gas prices, Americans are still paying an average of $4.00 per gallon at the pump. The best way to save money in today’s economy is to ditch the car completely, but that’s not a practical solution for most, of course. With daily commutes for everyone from nine-to-fivers, master’s degree students, driving remains a necessity for most people.When it comes to saving money on gas, fuel-efficient cars are the next best thing. In fact, most Americans today want cars with good fuel economy. They also want attractive cars with all the desirable features. Finally, they don’t want to break the bank to get one. Today’s hybrid cars, also known as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), may be just the ticket.
The Toyota Prius, the Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid are three of the most affordable fuel-efficient choices in today’s market. With base prices under $30,000, these hybrid electric cars offer the classiest fuel efficiency for the money.
The Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius is the nation’s top green choice when it comes to versatility and fuel efficiency. In fact, the fuel economy rating beats them all, with a combined 50 MPG. The roomy interior is comfortable, the ride is extremely quiet, and drivers get a lot of high-tech extras, too.
Some people find the Prius’ driving position awkward, however. Busy gauges clutter the dashboard, and the interior materials are somewhat disappointing. Only high-end trim packages with navigation systems contain an iPod adapter. It’s distinctively frumpy body may also be a plus or a big minus depending on taste.
The Prius combines a gasoline engine with an electric motor for an output of 134 horsepower. The fuel economy is its most impressive feature, outranking all other hybrids. Where safety is concerned, the Prius received the highest rating in front offset and side impact crashes. Overall, it is a very serviceable, user-friendly car.
The Honda Civic Hybrid
The hybrid Civic has a fuel economy rating of 44 MPG. In addition to fuel efficiency, the Civic offers a comfortable, roomy interior. Larger than the Insight, another Honda hybrid, the Civic comes with a wide range of trim choices and options to suit anyone.
However, all but the high-end trims lack common safety and convenience features. Drivers complain of road noise as well, and its 110-horsepower gasoline-electric powertrain accelerates the Civic more slowly than other hybrid cars. Crash safety tests give the Civic an “acceptable” three-star rating.
Overall, most drivers agree the Civic is a fun-to-drive small car. Its attractive design, well-built interior, and excellent gas mileage make it one of the top choices in hybrid electric cars.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid
The Fusion follows closely behind Prius and Civic in fuel efficiency. The stylish sedan delivers a combined 39 MPG. The interior is spacious and comfortable, and drivers get several high-tech features, like automatic climate control, a voice-controlled multimedia system, and rear-park assist.
Unfortunately, the Fusion’s battery pack takes up a large part of the cargo space. Buttons overwhelm the dashboard. The engine power and steering power are modest for a hybrid.
In safety tests, the Fusion outscores the other two with five-star ratings for front end crashes and four star ratings for rear crashes. Safe and fuel-efficient, the Fusion engages drivers with impressive corners and a comfortable ride. Its noteworthy fuel economy makes it a top choice in green cars.