By on July 10, 2008

This is how much sense Autoweek's list makesWhile top 5 and top 10 lists are the crack of the automotive nickel press (cheap, low quality, likely to give you brain damage and felonious), Autoweek's Top 5 Fuel-Efficient Cars You Actually Want to Drive" is just too asinine, too absurd not to pass on to TTAC's Best and Brightest. Not only do they choose bad cars (that, according to Autoweek, bring a smile to your face), but their stats are largely incorrect.  

— 2008 Tesla Roadster (Exotic)   
        – $109,000 MSRP   
        – 220 miles per charge (256 mpg equivalent)    
        – 0-60 in 3.9 seconds

Oh, it's exotic alright. So exotic, it's not in production and you can't buy one. Autoweek should know better than to swallow the load from Tesla’s PR department. The Tesla isn’t in full production, the range is completely unverified, they are likely going to be selling for way over the $109,000 sticker. Then again, Autoweek’s list is “cars you want to drive” and in fact, we all do want to drive the Tesla. 

— 2008 Audi TT 2.0 TDI Quattro (Weekend Warrior)        
    – $49,000 MSRP (estimated)         
    – 44 mpg (hwy)         
    – All-wheel drive handling

Does Autoweek know something Audi doesn’t? This model wasn’t confirmed for US production. Audi is bringing a 3.0-liter V6 diesel for the A4 and Q5/Q7, but the TDI four-banger is VW only for now. If they want to go off on the European cars tangent, that’s fine, but in such a case I’m going BMW 120d.

  — 2008 Mercedes-Benz E320 BLUETEC (Executive Sedan)
     – $53,075 MSRP
     – 32 mpg (hwy)
     – 210 horsepower, 400 lb-ft of torque

  — 2008 MINI Cooper (Cheap Thrills)
     – $18,700 MSRP
     – 37 mpg (hwy)
     – 2546 lbs and go-kart handling

They were bound to get two out of the five right. But you still have to ask yourself if the diesel price premium actually makes sense over a Benz E350, which unlike the oil burner, is available with 4Matic. There’s no denying the diesel Benzes are wonderful. And as for the Cooper, it’s a gem.

  — 2008 Lexus RX 400h (Family Fun)
     – $42,980 MSRP
     – 27 mpg (city)
     – 84.7 cubic feet of available cargo space

The only “family fun” thing about the Lexus RX hybrid is parking it on a set of train tracks and walking home. This is a terrible vehicle, with observed mileage guaranteed to be much lower. Also, just try finding one without the $6000 navigation package.

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28 Comments on “Autoweek’s “Top 5 Fuel-Efficient Cars You Actually Want to Drive”...”


  • avatar

    Lotus Elise would a much more sane choice than the Tesla.

  • avatar

    Best. Picture. Ever.

  • avatar

    The Prius really is not that much of a penalty-box n’ nut-punch to drive, why avoid that from the list. It’s roomy, rides well, and accelerates decently.

    The Tesla, even if it was in production, has a lesser range than anything else on the list. And why put an exotic on this list anyway.

    The photo is hysterical for this article, btw.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    The only “family fun” thing about the Lexus RX hybrid is parking it on a set of train tracks and walking home.

    Not funny, especially in light of this today…

    [the sad conclusion to the Los Angeles case of a man who parked his SUV on a train track and killed 11 people]

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Why would you want 4Matic on the ‘Benz? It just adds weight. Everything else you said I concur wholeheartedly.

  • avatar
    cjdumm

    It’s cool to see the MINI get some props from the ‘green’ crowd. The ‘cool’ crowd and the ‘damn-this-thing-handles-like-a-slotcar’ crowd have already been raving for years.

    Tiff Needell proved the worth of both accolades a few years ago on “Fifth Gear” whilst teaching a total noob how to rally in one.

    Now when will the convertibles get the newer (more efficient) engines? Choosing the ragtop currently carries a serious mileage penalty, and it’s not all from the poor aerodynamics.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Agreed. And sadly the giant wagon R-class diesel in ONLY available with 4matic. I’d guess it’s a 2-3mpg penalty, too. Otherwise that would be a great value, since they’re going for E-Class prices these days.

  • avatar
    Drew

    Once again, I find myself asking for just a modicum of research from TTAC.

    AutoWeek did in fact drive the Tesla:

    Read about it here

    If you’re going to be so critical of others, shouldn’t you hold yourself to at least some standards?

  • avatar

    Drew:

    AutoWeek did in fact drive the Tesla:

    My bad. Text amended.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    The pancake bunny is back. An Audi TT TDI Quattro would be a nice green grocer if it were priced $20K lower.

  • avatar
    BuckD

    Who put a pancake on that bunny’s head and then took a picture? Genius.

  • avatar
    N85523

    Thanks for a well written light-hearted post, Justin. Sounds like family fun to me.

  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    the only cars on the list that’s actually ‘fuel’ efficient is mini. as for the tesla, you can’t even use fuel to transport it…

    what a ‘krappy’ list…

    how about:

    mini
    gti
    jetta tdi
    civic
    other???

  • avatar
    rjones

    Is VW putting their old pancake engine in the new Rabbit?

  • avatar
    netrun

    That really is an awesome picture. Good thing I was observing the TTAC article rule: “Never drink and read. It could be hazardous to your PC.”

    If we’re going Yer-a-peein’ and all, I want the Accord Touring diesel. What a nice interior on that one, too.

    On the E350 vs E320, avoiding the 4matic may actually be a wise move if you plan on owning the car a long time… I’m just not sold on buying “urea” when I usually have some extra on me at any given time. Just sayin’.

  • avatar

    That rabbit was one of the many good things to come from the international aspect of the internet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oolong_(rabbit)

    and his owner’s picture page of him (Japanese!)

    http://www.fsinet.or.jp/~sokaisha/rabbit/rabbit.htm

    Oolong passed away a while back, but his owner got a spiritual successor and has trained him in the ways of “headperformance” :P

  • avatar
    Silvermink

    The Tesla isn’t in full production, the range is completely unverified, they are likely going to be selling for way over the $109,000 sticker.

    I guess that’s why it’s “cars you want to drive” and not “cars you want to pay for”…

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @Drew:

    While the link is appreciated, consider the context of the article. Autoweek drove a pre-production prototype in January. I hardly think it’s fair for them to claim at this point “we drove the Tesla that is on sale for $109,000.”

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Over on mye28.com the bunny with the pancake on its head has been around for a few yrs. It is code for : Stop talking gibberish

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Why do you people need ‘fun’ cars? All you guys do is commute from home to work, driving no faster than 65 mph while taking 20+ seconds to get up to highway speed.

    You’ll be fine with your Prius/Corolla/Accent/Cobalt.

  • avatar

    @quasimondo:

    You’re a dullard, aren’t you?

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    How about the 2009 Audi A4 2.0T? No word on a stick-shift for the USA (required for the “actually want to drive” nod), but so equipped it would be more fun then the Benz, almost match the diesel mileage but with cheaper fuel, and be considerably less expensive to purchase.

    Remember: not only does diesel cost 10% more than premium, it puts out 20% more carbon dioxide per gallon burned. Urea isn’t free, either.

    If you are going with a diesel, could we at least wait for the BMW 335d or 535d?

    As for a 1.5L gasoline engine only version of the Prius (with stick shift I hope), it might be OK. Don’t forget the weight reductions from losing the transmission and battery. The Lotus Elise makes do with a 1.8L Toyota engine.

  • avatar
    AnalogKid

    Why do you people need ‘fun’ cars? All you guys do is commute from home to work, driving no faster than 65 mph while taking 20+ seconds to get up to highway speed.

    You’ll be fine with your Prius/Corolla/Accent/Cobalt.

    Here’s why. I live in LA. When I get off work, I get in my little sports car, take the top down and head home. My route allows me to take a 2-mile or so stretch of Mulholland on the way into the “Valley” where I live. By the time I get home, I have pretty much forgotten about how much shit I had to eat at work that day and I am happy to see my wife and kids. How much is that worth? A helluva lot more than a Prius/Corolla/Accent/Cobalt. Try it sometime.

  • avatar
    shortthrowsixspeed

    ok someone help me b/c i was, and still am horrible at math.

    if i can get a slightly used mini cooper s averaging 30 mpg for about $25,000, or get a similarly slightly used gti averaging 25 mpg for about $20,000; is it worth it?

    well, correct me if i’m wrong, but i’ll pay 5000 more for the mini and assuming (for ease of calculation in my head) $5 per gallon i get 1000 gallons of “free” gas with the gti. that 1000 gallons will get me 25,000 miles in the gti.

    the mini comes with 30 mpg so it will have traveled the 25,000 miles on 833 gallons saving me only 167 gallons at $5 per gallon or $835. at that rate i’ll have to repeat the process (driving 25,000 miles) 5 more times to come out ahead (make up the $5000 premium i paid for the mini). so only after driving the mini 150,000 miles will i be in the black. hmmmm.

    my issue is that i think most people today want fuel efficient to save some coin . . . not just save the planet. therefore, for most people paying a huge premium to drive a hybrid (or similar fuel saver) makes no sense.

  • avatar
    rob

    shortthrowsixspeed:

    my issue is that i think most people today want fuel efficient to save some coin . . . not just save the planet. therefore, for most people paying a huge premium to drive a hybrid (or similar fuel saver) makes no sense.

    You’re right, it doesn’t make sense (or cents). People are buying $28,000 50 mpg Prii instead of $18,000 35 mpg Corollas. It’s about image, not finances. Oh, and I know people bitc, er, complain about the Prius and the corolla being in different size classes, but the corolla is really quite roomy.

    Oh, and your numbers are reasonable.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    The bunny picture…genius.

    I’ll skip those on the list (a Tesla?….really?) and just go with an Accord.

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    Miata, Mazda3, Civic Si, Fit?

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    So exotic, it’s not in production and you can’t buy one.

    That’s not entirely true. You can buy a Tesla Roadster. You just cant have it. It’s like paying to have a star named after you.


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