By on May 22, 2012

Fuel economy now is the leading factor that drives new car decisions, a study by Consumer Reports says. “Fuel economy” ranks top by a wide margin, followed far behind by quality, safety, and value.

The factors that trigger premature ejaculations in basement-dwelling, Gran Turismo playing phantasy car buyers, namely performance, design, and technology, are also-rans.

Car-purchase factor Most important (%)
Fuel economy 37
Quality 17
Safety 16
Value 14
Performance 6
Design/style 6
Technology/innovation 3

The heightened insistence on more mileage is not only good for the wallet, it also soothes the conscience. Says Consumer Reports:

“While gasoline costs were the number one reason cited for wanting a more fuel-efficient vehicle (at 90 percent), more than half of respondents also had other reasons, including a desire to be more environmentally friendly (62 percent) and concern about the nation’s dependence on foreign oil (56 percent).”

Full text of the report can be found here.

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124 Comments on “Forget Quality, Safety: Car Buyers Care Most About Mileage, Mileage, And Mileage...”


  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    No doubt that fuel economy is high on the list. I payed $3.45 a gallon last Saturday – but I’ve read that fuel is near $9.00/gallon in the UK.

    I’m not going to read the full text of the report, but I still draw the line with regards to interior space and its useability. If the rear hatch doesn’t allow for easing loading of bicycle, the vehicle gets crossed off my list. Next is affordability, i.e. cash purchase price.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      To be fair, and give full disclosure for your comparison, the Imperial gallon is bigger than the US gallon, cars are typically twice as efficient in Europe as they are in the United States, and you’d make a larger pay check in the UK since you’d be paying VAT (included in the price of that gasoline), not income taxes.

      $3.45 a gallon US is probably the equivalent of $7-8/gallon UK, maybe even more. Sorry to take away the shock factor. :’(

      • 0 avatar
        allythom

        You’ll be paying income taxes too in the UK. Broadly speaking, rates are 20% for the first ~34K pounds; then 40% after that upto ~150K GBP; then 45% after that. It’s been a while, but pre tax income is, I recall, generally lower than in the US.

        VAT is 20% on goods and services. Petrol is also subject to excise duty at 0.58 pounds per liter. The excise duty is subject to VAT too. Generally prices are displayed including all taxes and duties in the UK.

        Gas is sold by the liter in the UK, at a price of around 1.36 pounds per liter. 3.8 liters per US Gal = 5.17 pounds per US Gal. The exchange rate is about 1.58 USD to the pound, so roughly $8.16 per US Gal of petrol in the UK. Diesel (used in about a third of cars there) is more expensive, it actually turns out to be about 9 bucks per US Gal.

        I’m a Brit, but have lived in the US for years. Whenever I visit the motherland and have to fill up my rental car, it’s eye watering. A 20mpg (US) minivan is simply not an option for most UK families.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Ugh. We had a “refinery outage” over in the West coast. We never got the dip that the rest of the country had. I scoured and found $4.25/gal for regular. $4.60/gal for premium.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Indeed, some stations dipped alright, but to barely 4.20Gal regular unleaded before shooting back up to around $4.35Gal at one station here in Seattle.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      I paid 4.80 for a gallon of ethanol free premium last Saturday. Full service station.

      Nearest non full service station that sells ethanol free is at least a couple gallons of gas away there and back.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    I wonder how much of this is people lying to the surveyors to make themselves sound smarter or less shallow, because the fact that styling sells has been demonstrated again and again. All other things being equal, an excitingly styled car that gets the same exact mileage as a bland one will sell better than the bland one.

    People like to think of themselves as rational, right brain types when the idea of making a car purchase is still abstract and hypothetical, but when its actually time to sign on the dotted line and take a car home, that’s when the emotional pull starts to take over.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Their stated preference will affect which dealers and vehicles they look at. Some will fall in love with something else on account of style, features or the deal but offering class-trailing fuel economy is not going to help sell your cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Add to it that the most rational answer is to decline the survey. Basically what we have here is a distribution of opinions of people who are crazy enough or gullible enough to answer.

    • 0 avatar
      patman

      Yeah, I’d find those results much more believable if those factors were flipped over.

    • 0 avatar
      kuman

      We have this “hybrid fuel” thing that will allow you to “hybridize” all kind of vehicle and gives you up to unlimited miles to the gallon…

      its only a 3 step process applicable to any vehicle ( it will be easier if the vehicle is smaller and lighter )

      1. fill your tank up with its recommended fuel type.

      2. push/pull the car to where ever you want to go.

      3. enjoy the savings :D

      Welcome to the next generation hybrid!

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    People SAY they care about fuel economy, yet they still buy way-too-large inefficient and overpowered vehicles in droves.

    In the grand scheme of things, gasoline is still very, very cheap in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      When they say American buyers shop based on fuel economy, what they really mean is that an American will buy the 3-row crossover that’s rated at 26mpg highway instead of the one that does 24mpg.

      Everyone knows they “need” a big truck, SUV, or crossover, so the idea of buying something genuinely more efficient isn’t considered, so they go for incremental improvements within the same class of vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Gasoline is still very cheap, unless you have no money. And with all the people currently unemployed, many don’t have the money.

      Gasoline and diesel could be a lot cheaper in the US, but our national economic policies prevent us from fully developing and extracting our own resources. So we are dependent on imports even though we export much of what we produce in gasoline to Europe. Something is screwed up here.

      In spite of all the discussion and rhetoric, Americans don’t care about the price of gas. They keep buying it no matter what it costs. You gotta live, you gotta eat, you gotta commute.

      Judging only from my own gasoline use and factoring the utility and convenience we get from it, we can’t live without gas.

      My wife teaches college and has a 200 mile commute three times a week. My grand daughter commutes to a different college four times a week with a 150 mile round-trip. I live 26 miles from the nearest town with a Wal-Mart. Lotta traveling there.

      I just go to the Shell station, hand them the cash and haul home the gas to fill up my 55-gallon drum at home. The cost of gas is just part of the cost of living.

      Buying econoboxes for the sake of mpg doesn’t solve life’s little problems. Often it is cheaper to keep the old, paid off jalopy and just buy the gas. You can buy a lot of gas with the money you save by not making that new-car payment.

      And if you want to be safe, you buy bigger. That’s why the F150 outsells everything else. The Camry is the best selling sedan because it satisfies the need for mpg for the mid-sized sedan lovers.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        And if we all drive old, paid-for jalopies, eventually we’ll turn into Cuba.

        Somebody’s going to be buying new cars this year and you’ll have more high-mpg options on the used market in 5 years, if they opt for high-mpg cars today. This may work to your advantage… in 5 years.

        “Gasoline and diesel could be a lot cheaper in the US, but our national economic policies prevent us from fully developing and extracting our own resources. So we are dependent on imports even though we export much of what we produce in gasoline to Europe. Something is screwed up here.”

        Oh, right, I forgot. Our best strategy is to dig up all our oil and use it up today. Future generations can take care of themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Gasoline and diesel could be a lot cheaper in the US, but our national economic policies prevent us from fully developing and extracting our own resources”

        Yes, it’s called “oil is a fungilble commodity”. You could suck the US dry and you’d still see your country exporting and importing oil as the market sees fit because someone, somewhere, will pay market price.

        Unless, of course, you’re talking about nationalizing production and putting significant restrictions on trade like, eg, Venezuela does. Something tells me that’s not what you mean.

      • 0 avatar
        toplessFC3Sman

        “Gasoline and diesel could be a lot cheaper in the US, but our national economic policies prevent us from fully developing and extracting our own resources. So we are dependent on imports even though we export much of what we produce in gasoline to Europe. Something is screwed up here.”

        Yes, because using all our own energy resources first is a great idea. If we do, we’d be leaving the more unstable areas of the world (or anyone who could potentially be an enemy in 20 – 50 yrs time) with much, much more while we’ve squandered our own, so if any sort of prolonged conflict or war broke out, our hands would be tied from the lack of energy

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Kix and psar, that’s why we keep importing all that oil from everywhere around us and that’s why we’re not participants in determining global oil pricing and development strategy. We’re users. Not players. We determine nothing. We swallow what OPEC allows us.

        The bottom line: if people have to worry about the cost of gas or the mpg their car gets, they should not buy cars.

        The fact remains that most Americans do not care about mpg or the price of gas, based on the best selling vehicles in America.

        That makes me question the validity of this survey. Who did they ask? How big was the sample size? What was the distribution? What were the levels of income?

        Only the people perpetually broke would worry about mpg and buy econoboxes. Like most Americans I don’t give mpg and the cost of gas a thought. It is all part of the cost of living.

        And as far as old cars are concerned. C4C put a dent into that, didn’t it? Think of all those illegal aliens clamoring for even older cars now that they can afford to buy and drive without a license or insurance on America’s roads.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Kix and psar, that’s why we keep importing all that oil from everywhere around us and that’s why we’re not participants in determining global oil pricing and development strategy. We’re users. Not players. We determine nothing. We swallow what OPEC allows us.”

        No. OPEC (and everyone else) more or less sells product at what the world market will pay. The US happens to export a lot because it’s a player in terms of refining capacity as compared to say, Canada, which refines very little despite producing quite a lot).

        There’s not a lot of strategy at work, here: you suck it out of A and refine it in B for consumption in C. What matters is what C will pay, and there’s no way to change this without overt (as opposed to covert, which is what you have now) nationlization of the energy industry. Refiners will buy as cheap as they can and resell it for as much as they can—you would need to interfere with the market significantly in order to change this. Changing development policy (read: “Drill, baby, drill”) wouldn’t have the effect you’re hoping for; pulling a Chavez on the likes of Exxon would.

        Now, I’d actually be in favour or that kind of interventionism, but I really doubt that you are.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        psar, the only thing that really matters to Americans and hits the old wallet is the price of gas, no matter how it is derived. What I am saying is that it could be cheaper for Americans in America if we looked after our own interests first. We haven’t been doing that for decades.

        I bet if we produced more oil, coal and natgas in America we, as a nation could have an impact on world prices. The problem is the on-going battle with the greenweenies.

        But as we all should know by now, there is NO oil shortage and there will not be one for centuries yet to come. So oil, gas, diesel and oil-based fuels will be available for a long time to come, albeit at a price.

        I don’t believe that Americans will cut back on their consumption of oil ever. They’ll buy, no matter what it costs. That’s why I think this CR study is bogus, or just lip-service from the PC.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        “Gasoline and diesel could be a lot cheaper in the US, but our national economic policies prevent us from fully developing and extracting our own resources. So we are dependent on imports even though we export much of what we produce in gasoline to Europe. Something is screwed up here.”

        Don’t buy the BS that comes from the likes of the EIA or CERA. The USA will never be energy independant if we continue to burn up 20,000,000 barrels of oil PER DAY. We extract roughly 5,000,000 barrels +/-. And barrels of oil equivalent, i.e. natural gas liquids don’t go into your gas tank for that 200 mile commute. It’s a national tragedy that we waste our energy resources as we do.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “Don’t buy the BS that comes from the likes of the EIA or CERA. The USA will never be energy independant if we continue to burn up 20,000,000 barrels of oil PER DAY.”

        It is true that we will never again maximize the extraction of our own resources like we did when I was a kid, so we are bound to be at the mercy of global prices for oil.

        And we will continue to pay whatever the market will bear. $5+ gas didn’t phase anyone. There was a lot of pissin’ and moanin’ but they kept buyin’ and payin’.

        But, to say that we put mpg as the highest priority when buying a car, I don’t believe that. Well, maybe subway riders who don’t own any cars may think that, but not Americans as a nation who actually buy cars, both new and used.

        Americans as a nation continue to put bigger, heavier and thirstier as their priorities for the vehicle they choose to drive.

        Hence, trucks are the best-sellers in America. Even V6 trucks or the new EB Fords can be mighty thirsty when driven over 30mph, and even worse when they carry a load on rare occasions.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        See, you’re describing the problem with incredible detail. I live 1 1/2 miles down the road from a Wal-Mart, in a new development area, and am maybe 8 miles from my office. Why anybody would feel the need to commute 100 miles, unless you’re talking Chicago or D.C. area, is beyond me. It’s wasteful on your wallet and the environment.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        tuffjuff, to answer your question, I believe it is because they only have that mode of transportation as their daily driver and they use it for to get around in. It all averages out in the long run, long commutes, short hops, it is all part of living in America.

        I live in the middle of the desert, by choice, nearest town, hospital, doctor, Wal-Mart, K-mart is 26 miles away, one way. Nearest military base is 38 miles away, one way.

        For me transportation is existential. I don’t care what gas sells for. I’ll buy Premium no matter what it costs. If I run out of money, that could be a problem.

        I believe most Americans see it the same way. If they don’t, they would be a lot more frugal in their use of gas and diesel. But they still take that F150 V8 on that 1.5 mile journey to Wal-Mart or wherever.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        “I live in the desert by choice” tells the tale. The real source of major motorfuel consumption in the U.S. is not so much that our cars are thirsty (as, indeed, they are) but people have made choices about where to live in relationship to where they work and shop which involve a lot of driving. I’m not being critical here; it’s just a fact. In metro DC, people will trade an additional hour per day of commuting time for a bigger house, etc. Since I don’t work an 8-hour day and charge by the hour, I have a rather acute sense of the value of my time. So, I live in DC, a 10-minute drive from work and everything else that I need. And, if my car’s in the shop or the weather is a mess, I take the bus.

        Call me crazy, but I honestly cannot conceive of living in the middle of nowhere and having to jump in a car to do anything, buy anything or see anybody.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Bruce, it’s called “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

        And living out in the middle of nowhere is a choice that many urbanites from the East coast are choosing to make as well, especially now.

        In the past years I’ve seen retirees from NJ and NY cash out and come to my neck of the woods, buy a couple of acres of desert land and put a double-wide mobile home on it, or have a house built.

        A plumber from NJ gave his house in NJ to his son and moved to where I’m living. He’s since traded his ’80s-vintage Towncar for an F150 and his wife now drives a Prius.

        He’s also a poker-playing buddy who regales us with tales of what life was like in the densely populated cities on the East Coast….. and how he loves it here in the desert.

        The parents of my brother’s wife gave their apartment in Manhattan to their daughter and bought ranch property around the Santa Fe/Taos area.

        My brother, who had a car dealership in Alabama until he retired misses the less-crowded confines of the South but since he no longer has to work he can accommodate his wife’s tastes of living in The City (rent-free).

        This Southwestern living is catching on since a lot of people, especially from the East are coming west to enjoy the clean air and healthy desert living.

        I originated in Huntington Beach, CA, myself, but a military career landed me in desert country. Lots of retired military people here from all branches of the service. They could have gone back home, wherever home was, but they chose the wide open spaces instead. I’ve been to DC. It’s a beautiful place to visit.

        Point here is, the cost of gas is just part of the cost of living, and most Americans buy the gas no matter what it costs. I don’t believe that CR’s study about mpg accurately reflects American preferences.

        It’s one thing to not have money to buy the gas, but it is quite another to consciously choose to buy a truck or gas-guzzler and pay whatever it costs to fill the gas tank week after week after week. And trucks are America’s best sellers while the Camry, America’s best-selling sedan, is not as frugal as a compact or sub-compact. People who buy those don’t care about mpg and the price of gas.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I always though that smaller was safer, they’re harder to hit.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        highdesertcat, I hear you.

        I pretty much buy what I want to drive. My wife, who has to drive across the desert southwest for work to the tune of 20Kmi/yr, has to be a bit more deliberate about what she drives-but even then, it’s only for durability and reliability sake.

        Heck, I spend more on ammo than I do on gas most months anyway. now, the price of copper…that is a travesty.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        fvfvsix wrote: “Heck, I spend more on ammo than I do on gas most months anyway. now, the price of copper…that is a travesty.”

        What I do is reload my own and use lead. I cast my own bullets because I don’t mind the lead fouling. I can always clean the barrel.

        I do buy Speer and Hornady copper-clads for keepers, but for sighting and plinking I cast my own.

        It’s kind of a pain in the @ss to melt lead and cast bullets but lead is still cheap. Cheaper than copper-clads. I use old, used wheel weights which are mostly free from tire stores like Martin and Big O, and usually get other lead from metal-recycling centers or a gun store in El Paso, if I need it.

        Over the decades I managed to get bullet molds for 30cal (for 30.06 and .308), 9mm hollow point, 9mm ball, .44 (300gr), .45, and .22 (for .223-45gr), .50, .65 and .70 for muzzle loaders. I found them mostly at garage sales and estate sales. Good stuff there. Much of it no longer made.

        If you use clean powder like HP38 and W4140, cleanup isn’t bad with a little nitro followed by CLP down the barrel and action. Seriously, you can really reduce your ammo expenditure with a few simple steps. All it takes is just a little more cleaning and a stainless brush.

        Buying decent brass like Norma, Remington and Winchester can also give you lots more reloads from the brass than the crap from Korea, China or the Chech republic. But Russian brass has to be the worst.

        Re cars & commuting: For us, the more durable and reliable cars have been my wife’s Japan-built Highlander, now with over 75K of trouble-free miles on it. Other people who commute long distances on Hwy 70 and Hwy 54 and want to do so in comfort, are choosing Camry, Accord and Sonata, not the compacts or subcompacts that beat you to death on long commutes.

        But any car, no matter how great an mpg it is advertised to get, can be pushed to return worse mpg than advertised. What they advertise was obtained through ideal conditions in controlled testing. The real world is different. That’s why I think this study is bogus.

        Only people who don’t have a car would put mpg at the top of the list. People living and commuting in the real world put comfort and reliability at the top of their shopping list.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      But it’s more than it once was and the increase is big enough to grab people’s attention. If memory serves, we spend $4K/year, on average, on fuel. That’s a big chunk of change and if you could decrease it by 20% or even just 10%, that’s worth consideration.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        @ DC Bruce:
        FARTHER does not necessarily mean slower to get somewhere.

        I actually moved 25-30 miles farther away from work than my previous apartment & my average commute time is ever-so-slightly-faster (40-45 min now vs 45-50 min on public transport). My worst-case commute time is also faster (1.75 hours now vs 2.5 on public transport)

        Public transportation really CAN BE that slow in a “well-served” area like Chicago (where I used to live). Not only is my commute generally faster & less hassle free (no standing in -10F weather waiting for the bus or wondering why the bus shown on the bus tracker doesn’t really exist or dodging panhandlers & pickpockets), but the property is cheaper as well. The big loss of living far is car expenses & property taxes. You win some, you lose some.

  • avatar
    77MGB

    I find it fascinating that a new car buyer will choose a car they desire less over the one they really wanted based on a rated 4 or 5mpg advantage, but will drop an extra $2500-3000 on the table for the nav & “good” stereo package without even thinking about it. I’m in early shopping for a car right now (aren’t we all?) and while mileage is a factor, it isn’t going to keep me from buying the car I want … within reason, of course.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I’m not so sure that is accurate because the F150 is still the best selling truck in America and trucks as a subgroup sell very well in the overall numbers of vehicles sold each year in America.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @highdesertcat, I think that for many Americans the data presented only gives half the picture.

        “Fuel economy is my #1 concern… as long as I can keep driving the gigantic crew cab pickup trucks I’ve become to expect as my god given right.”

        So they buy ecobost F150s and continue to use them the way their parents and grand parents used Ford LTDs and Mercury Grand Marquis in the 70s.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dan, the way I see and the way it applies to my life, is that I want a vehicle that can do everything, all the time, with a minimum of compromises.

        I’ve always had a truck. It was the first vehicle I could call my very own. The first time I got laid was on the bench of an F100. For me, trucks can do pretty much anything I want of them.

        For my wife it is a little different. When she was working she needed a large sedan to show prospective buyers real estate. When SUVs and CUVs became popular it was just a hop, skip and a jump to transition from a Towncar to a Highlander. No worries about mpg.

        Now she drives a Grand Cherokee. Still no worries about mpg.

        I think it is all relative to what’s going on in their life what determines what a buyer chooses to drive. I am cautious about these findings about mpg.

        As I commented elsewhere, my guess would be they asked subway commuters who did not own any cars to tell them what is important to them if they were to consider buying a car and then published the replies as gospel.

        That would explain why mpg is top priority. It certainly isn’t for most Americans. If it was they wouldn’t buy what they buy, new or used.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Highdesertcat, I’m not saying it is good or bad, I’m just saying it is fact. I’m fairly certain that my next car will be V8 powered and have enough room for four adults and their luggage. Why? Because I love a big sedan. I love V8 smoothness. I want to own one more V8 before technology and CAFE make it impossible to get in anything other than a truck.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dan, I don’t know how you feel about Chrysler but the 300 V8 is large, roomy, smooth and powerful.

        My youngest boy just bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and took me for a spin in it. Smooth, quiet, powerful and downright scary when you mash the gas pedal, with abundant traction on all four wheels.

        Another outstanding candidate if it ever comes to pass would be the Holden V8 Commodore if GM ever brings it here. I’ve got friends in Australia who own them and they love them.

        None of those choices enhance mpg though, but they all have desirable qualities of their own and will sell well in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I don’t see an inconsistency. You can get nav and a good stereo in a car that gets good fuel economy and, ultimately, spend less than you would for nav and a good stereo in a car that gets bad fuel economy.

      What’s wrong with that?

      • 0 avatar
        77MGB

        Because, if you read my post again, it involves a person buying a car they like less than the one they would otherwise have purchased, but for the mileage. I would rather buy the car I really like, even if the mileage is slightly worse, and forego some minor creature comforts if I have to, than to buy a car I don’t like just because of better mileage (and then waste the mpg advantage by loading it with features and accessories). If the vehicles being considered by the buyer were equally ok in his mind however, and were equipped and cost exactly the same, then sure the car with better mileage wins.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Well, yeah, which is the thing. What makes you think anybody is buying a car they like less?

        People have expressed an increased preference for better fuel economy. They now, increasingly “like” fuel economy. They’re going to factor that in as part of the “like.” They are not going to buy cars they like less for better fuel economy, they are going to like cars with good fuel economy better. They’re also going to continue to like a better price, more room, more power and a host of other things and that’s going to get factored in with increased like of fuel-efficient cars.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I am not sure if I believe this report. Lets see if the F-150 is still the best selling vehicle at the end of this year…

    I’m wondering how exactly this works. Is it “I need a new truck because the new F-150 gets 25mpg highway and my current one only gets 18″ ? Or is it “I need to switch from my 25mpg 150 to a 48mpg prius”?

    I think the survey would have been better by asking “If you needed to buy a replacement for your current car, what would it be?”

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Could it partly be that quality, at least in terms of reliably transporting somebody from point A to B – materials are another question, and safety are more or less givens by now?

    It’s gotten to the point where mileage is pretty much the same, within a few points, across an entire range and you can pretty much go in to a dealer where they can ask, “small, medium, or large; white, black, or silver.”

    EDIT: I meant mileage is similar for most cars across a line, and CUVS are similar to each other. At least as far as I can tell. I didn’t mean to say that trucks got the same mileage as cars and wanted to change that lest people think I’m completely dim.

  • avatar
    elimgarak

    my criteria:
    1. wagon 2. diesel 3. manual 4. rwd/awd

    :)

    In all seriousness, I prioritize by 1. reliability 2. Quality 3. Handling/Weight

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      The fact your fake criteria is used by some as REAL criteria makes me sad.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      You forgot:

      5. Having made those claims, I won’t spend the money anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      My Saab 9-5 wagon will match most tdi wagons on the highway at 39 mpg before I get it aligned this week. Not necessary to fork over $ for expensive diesel and diesel maintenance.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        But how much is it costing you to pay for that trailer truck you are drafting? Because that is the only way a Saab 9-5 with a US-spec gasoline engine is going to ‘consistently’ get anywhere near 39mpg. If you drove a TDI the way you would have to drive a 9-5 to get that kind of mileage, you would probably get 70mpg with it.

      • 0 avatar
        wagonsonly

        What did you do to your 9-5 to make it get 39mpg? I thought mine did pretty well at 32-ish (2.3 LPT/5-speed).

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        No drafting when your doing 60 mph. Speed must be the key in mpg since no one can hold it on the highway without cruise control. Driving style and higher tire pressures are the key.

        The tdi sedan hypermilers just averaged 80 mpg with warm daytime temperatures and predominately tail winfs. Mine are are a two way average, one in the evening when it’s cooler.

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        Norm, now I think you are doing this to aggravate me. I have a 9-5 (and have owned two others) and I love it to death. A fabulous car that I will drive to my funeral. However, it has never and will never achieve the high-30′s/low-40′s highway mpg that you consistently and confoundingly claim. The 2.3T is simply not capable of it. Under IDEAL conditions, it will achieve 31-32 mpg on the highway in steady state driving.

        The revised (as of 2008) EPA numbers are 17city/25hwy/20comb. It is a testament to Saab’s engineering that the 2.3T can regularly exceed these numbers, but you are in Unicorn Land with your claims. This is fifth-grade math my good man!

        For the love of Saab, please stop.

        /rant

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Parts, you can do it if you try. Pump up the tire pressures to 40 psi and settle in at 60 mph reset the SID. You’ll be surprised on a hot day how efficient the turbo-4 is at cruise

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    This may be a good example of the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.”

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      What actions did you have in mind?

      - As of March, Prius sales were up about 40% over the previous CYTD (March chosen to minimize Fukushima effects).
      - The Prius C is extremely hard to find on dealer lots.
      - Yaris sales are up nearly 50%.
      - Camry hybrid sales have better than doubled. Tt’s a better car at a more attractive price but it’s still $3400 more than a regular Camry.
      - The new conventional Camry gets better fuel economy than the old and its sales are up by about 28%.
      - The Sonic is selling very well.
      - While the Silerado is up just 4%, CYTD in March, the Colorado was up 30%.

      That’s a fair number of high and higher-mpg vehicles that seem to me to be doing relatively well.

      The first 3 months of last year were pretty good for Toyota hybrids, so this year so far, compounds on pretty good.

      • 0 avatar
        EquipmentJunkie

        You make good points, but take a look at Honda auto sales (the high-mpg Fit, Civic, Insight, & CR-Z) and non-Toyota brands of hybrids for the months of March and April of this year and Philosophil’s comment makes sense. Despite $4 gas, sales of these efficient cars just plod along or are losing major momentum. Even Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra, and Ford Fiesta sales were off significantly.

        I have my doubts about this study. The fuel efficiency factor is nearly double its closest runner-up? I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it. I am convinced that we are in the middle of a shift in buying patterns…but that is another subject.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        A couple of simple examples might help.

        1. The best selling vehicle in the U.S. and Canada is the Ford F-Series pickup. Do most owners need a large pick-up like that? I doubt it. Are there other vehicles that would likely serve most of those driver’s needs just as well that have lower fuel consumption ratings? Very likely.

        2. Would most people who drive large SUVs, CUVs’ and Vans be able to get by just as well with something that was smaller and more fuel efficient? Very likely.

        3. Could most Camry owners get by with a Corolla, most Altima buyers get by with a Sentra, most Accord owners get by with a Civic, and so on (assuming in each case a shift to a more fuel efficient vehicle)? Very likely.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’ll toss out, to I’m sure the flames of the B&B, that quality is no longer the number one factor, by a landslide, and only one tick above safety because the gap in quality from the bottom to the top has gotten rather narrow.

    Almost any car today you buy today in North America from the A to the D segment is going to give you 125K to 150K miles of relatively trouble free ownership and will not need any major maintenance until the 100K mile mark, and even then, major is nothing compared to what was needed 20 years ago.

    It is interesting that mileage matters so much, yet the electric and ICE electrics can’t seem to get a break. Price point?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      If you lease or trade the car before the warranty expires, quality, reliability, durability, value and safety are no longer an issue. When you toss them out, the only thing that matters is utility and application.

      Commuting in an F150 doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons, but trying to haul a utility trailer with a Camry makes even less sense. So most people compromise. They only demand good mpg from their econoboxes.

      IMO it is only the people who are hard up who worry about mpg. Commuting in a 2011 Elantra with four chubby teen age girls aboard, up the Organ Mountain Pass, results in the same bad mpg as driving them there in a V6 Highlander or Grand Cherokee which offer far greater comfort and safety.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Why does hauling a utility trailer with a Camry not make sense? The registration on a 4×8 or 5×9 utiltiy trailer is peanuts, you don’t have to buy seperate insurance, and the upkeep is minimal. They are also dirt cheap to buy. Makes FAR more sense to me than running around in a gas swilling truck because you want to go to Home Depot once in a while.

      • 0 avatar
        WRohrl

        If you lease or trade before the warranty expires you are pretty much by default one for whom the price of the gas that you put into the vehicle does not matter as you are throwing so much money away it’s ridiculous. You also are generally not making the best economic decision (although there are many factors besides economics to consider when replacing your vehicle).

        You can be a lot less than hard up to think about fuel economy. I wouldn’t consider myself anywhere near hard up, but also have no need or burning desire to drive a large pickup truck. Needlessly wasting resources isn’t the best use for my money and even if the money was unlimited, I believe I would feel the same way.

        Reliability matters a great deal no matter what. I would venture that even though your granddaughter’s car may have a 100K warranty, if it breaks down repeatedly on the Organ Mountain Pass, I’m pretty sure she would want to be rid of it even if the repair cost her nothing. Four teenagers stranded at the side of the road in the middle of New Mexico is generally considered to be A Bad Thing. So yeah, reliability matters.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        kr, you do know that unibody welded-sheetmetal cars are less rigid than body on frame vehicles, don’t you?

        Just because some people choose to tow a trailer behind their Camry, Altima, Accord, Sonata and even Civic, doesn’t make it safe for everyone around them.

        There was a accident on US54 north of El Paso some time back where someone towing a lightweight camper trailer behind their midsized sedan (I don’t remember the brand) was overwhelmed by body flex and lost control when the trailer became airborne by a gust of wind. No speeding involved but side-gusts over 40mph are common in these parts.

        After all the crying was done and the sedan had rolled over several times in the desert, no one was hurt, just badly shaken, with all airbags deployed, and the body of the sedan was badly bent into a V aft of the B-pillar.

        What makes sense to you, makes sense to you. I drive a 2011 Tundra 5.7 as my daily driver and I live 26 miles away from the nearest town with a Wal-Mart. I use a ton of gas each week, each month, each and every year.

        I don’t give it a thought. It’s is part of the cost of living MY life. If I ran out of money I’d be forced to drive less, but I wouldn’t buy an econobox to scoot around in.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        But people aren’t throwing their cars/trucks/suvs away on short leases and before the car loan is paid off. There is a mountain of evidence that shows American consumers are keeping cars longer than ever, the average car is now over 11 years old (remember that’s the AVERAGE, the peak of the bell curve, so think about how many 15 to 20 year old cars are still running).

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        WRohrl, so far so good on the Elantra — headed to 40K miles without a problem so far.

        And about trucks, my daily driver is a 2011 Tundra 5.7 and it does get better gas mileage than my 2006 F150 did, and both were downright economical to drive compared to my 1988 Silverado 350.

        But MOST Americans do not worry about mpg. They buy what they like. They buy what they want to drive.

        I think this survey is not a true representation of the American psyche when it comes to cars and mpg. I think it is a slice of a miniscule part of the overall number of Americans who choose to own cars, or may even not own any cars.

        My guess would be they asked subway commuters who did not own any cars to tell them what is important to them if they were to consider buying a car and then published the replies as gospel.

        APaGttH, that’s because it is cheaper to keep the old jalopy and put gas in it than it is to buy a new one that gets better gets mileage.

        I know people driving an 1987 Camry and a 1992 S-10 as daily drivers. They may also own a 2012 vehicle but they only take that out for long trips out of town.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @highdesertcat

        If you think a modern unibody car is less rigid than a body on frame anything, you need to go to engineering school. It just isn’t so. When a pickup goes over a speedbump diagonally you can SEE the flex as the gap between the cab and the bed changes. And it is irrelevant anyway. “Overwhelmed by body flex” Sheesh.

        Towing a sub 1500lb utility trailer with any modern 3000lb+ car is simply a non-issue – we are not talking about pulling a bulldozer around here. If some idiot in a Camry managed to get in trouble towing, they probably would have gotten in JUST as much trouble with an F150. Towing isn’t rocket science, though I do agree with the European attitude that all but the smallest trailers should require extra training and a license endorsement. AND a low speed limit. Of course, I think you should need a truck license for anything bigger than an F150 too. Maybe even for those.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        kr, we each have our beliefs. I wouldn’t tow anything of consequence with a unibody car, but I have no problems towing trailers loaded with brick, mortar and/or tiles all the way from El Paso, TX, to the top of the Sacramento Mountains, with any of the BOF frame trucks I have used over the past 32 years I’ve lived and worked here.

        Truck frames flex because that is what they are designed to do, but they are longitudinally-rigid for towing. Hooking up to any unibody is ill-advised. Even light-weight trailers can cause horizontal flexing when hit by side-gusts. Maybe you have seen pictures of accidents on the autobahn where an Alpen-Kreutzer trailer tipped over a unibody.

        That’s why all manufacturers caution against towing with a unibody and limit tongue-loading to 500lbs and draws to no more than 3500 lbs, unless a towing-subframe is added like that on a properly-equipped Ridgeline.

        Unibody is great for what it was designed for, lightweight strength, economy and improved mpg. I wouldn’t trust unibody for anything besides crumple zones in collisions.

        However, feel free to tow anything you want with a unibody. Anytime I see anyone towing with a unibody, including the Highlander or Jeep Grand Cherokee like ours, I give them wide berth. It doesn’t take much to unsettle unibody type vehicles. I don’t want to be around when they are.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        My car weighs 2700 lbs and is rated to tow 1500. I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable pulling that much wiht it but a small utility trailer can be a handy thing. I notice that, should I need to move mas quantities of building materials, Home Depot will rent me a truck for $22/hour. A few years back, we bought 20 tons of stone and the vendor delivered.

        Maybe other people move building materials all the time but, as far as I can tell, the parking lot where I work hosts a lot of under-stressed pickups and SUVs. They paid a lot of money for capability that they mostly don’t need and a weekly penalty to move those things.

        I think it’s perfectly credible that people are taking a second look at how they live with their cars and moving towards different choices.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Kix, people buy what they choose to buy. I just don’t think that this study is accurate. If this study was an accurate reflection of American sentiment, then the small, fuel-efficient vehicles with the great gas mileage would be the best sellers. They’re not. Far from it!

        And as far as under-stressed vehicles, trucks are the best selling vehicles in America and my guess would be they are also the most underutilized. But people buy them.

        People buy what they choose to buy because most cannot afford one vehicle for every purpose, like one for hauling, one for economical commuting and one for people-moving.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Today almost all cars are safe (especially compared to the ’80s) and mostly reliable, so this leaves MPGs as a major deciding factor. Heck most cars look the same and your average commuter could careless about handling. Same goes for performance as your average car is plenty “fast”. Technology changes too quickly to buy a car based on the gadgets it comes with, my iPhone does everything I need just give me a USB port to charge it and a stereo that can pass the audio thru. I buy vehicles based on how I’m going to USE them. I got a small (Dakota) V8 truck for towing, a sports car (350Z) for zipping to work and the wife has cute hatchback (Volvo C30) for commuting/shopping. The Volvo actually gets kind of crappy mileage, but its size and shape is PERFECT for its task.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    This sort of data is subject to misinterpretation and misuse, on a lot of levels.

    This was an insightful comment that addresses one aspect of the issue: “the idea of buying something genuinely more efficient isn’t considered, so they go for incremental improvements within the same class of vehicle.” In other words, “concern for fuel economy” doesn’t necessarily translate into fundamental changes in behavior; concern can be relative.

    Here was another good comment: “This may be a good example of the old adage, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’” What respondents claim they will do does not necessarily correspond with what the action that they ultimately take. They may be saying what they think that the surveyor wants to hear, or they may speaking in generalities that don’t accurately account for all of the other elements that will ultimately contribute to their choice, or, again, they may perceive “concern about fuel economy” differently from what the questioner intended.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Those were my top three considerations when I bought my Cruze Eco. Then again, I drive over 650 miles per week. It was a pocketbook decision – I’m not that convinced this is the way to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and I don’t believe the sky is falling.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I might as well copy and paste my comments from “The Unimportance of Speed”, but I won’t.

    Fuel economy is vital to me, now more than ever. I bought my 2004 Impala based on:

    1. Test drives in California and Ohio.
    2. Fuel economy for such a large car.
    3. Comfort, because of back issues I had that year and my 1996 Ford Ranger was killing me.
    4. Because it was an Impala.
    5. I hate Toyota…

    All of the above reasons prove I made the right choice, and I apologize for nothing!

    I still hate Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      WRohrl

      What’s the deal with “I hate Toyota”? You keep repeating that in a number of posts. Please detail the bad experience you had with a Toyota or the company in general in order to make it sound like you are not some sort of bigot…I’m sure you don’t hate the Japanese as a whole as you own(ed?) a Miata, and I just can’t figure out what it was that happened to you…I’ve never seen you post that you ever owned a Toyota though. Hating something without having proper experience with it beyond maybe renting a beige Camry once is weird. I guess ultimately that’s your right, but still. On top of that, the windows seem to go down in the back of my Toyota just fine and I am not aware of any other Toyota models that have rear window issues either – that seems to be the other consistent thing in many of your replies/threads.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @WRohrl:

        “I hate Toyota” is just a running gag with me. From early on since the early 1970′s I was impressed with their cars, as a friend in the air force bought one and his folks owned them. I had to admit that compared to the domestic cars at the time, which were all large and ponderous by comparison, they were very fuel-efficient and seemed to just run better than most other cars, interior quality notwithstanding.

        I was jealous and couldn’t figure out why the domestics didn’t even seem to want to try to change, aside from the Pinto and Vega, which in the Vega’s case was a disaster, and the best they had to offer were the Novas, Darts, Falcons, Hornets, Gremlins, etc.

        No, I don’t really hate Toyota, I respect the daylights out of them, I just really want to drive “domestic” as long as I can, although being a Honda and Mazda owner in addition. I just really like my Impala. What will I replace my Imp with? Who knows? A…Prius?

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I don’t care much for their models either post 2000, but I’m not sure I could feel a hate for the company as a whole… after all they have done some innovative things in the past thirty years (esp the hybrid drive). Now things Toyota does which I do hate (1) mundane ugly styling post 2000 on every model I can think of, (2) obnoxious marketing, and (3) failing to create anything remotely exciting to drive post 2000, Lex IS250 and 430 not withstanding… maybe the plebs want something exciting too. I suppose the FR-S is an attempt at this but its too early to tell how it will pan out. When I see someone buy a new one of their cars, I just feel that’s one more person who sold their driving soul to the beige blob.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    Most people are just stupid when it comes to the real savings that can come from fuel mileage.

    I have a relative that’s a car wholesaler, and when gas prices shoot up, he was telling me how many people would take a bath and lose $10k plus on their nearly new full size SUV to trade for something like a new minivan purely for the better gas mileage. When you add up the savings, you’re talking like $15 to $20 a week for the average driver by going from a SUV to a minivan. The sales tax alone is more than the fuel savings for several years.

    I’ve seen this with all sorts of purchases regarding “energy savings.” People will replace their older (perfectly working) AC unit with a more efficient, $6,000-$8,000 AC unit for their house, all so they can save $50 a month during the summer in electricity. Doing the math, it would take something like 30 years to make it an actual “savings.”

    • 0 avatar
      TR4

      Shut this guy up, he’s bad for business!

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      This is the wrong way to think about things. Yes- you do take a bbath when you trade in your SUV. Cars depreciate. But guess what- that depreciation is money lost REGARDLESS of whether you sell you SUV or not. You’ve ALREADY lost that money even if you refuse to sell the truck.

      Do you want to lose more or do you want to switch to a more fuel efficient depreciating asset? That’s the question you need to ask yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        Crosley

        The depreciation of a car is (obviously) not perfectly linear, everyone has heard the old adage of how quickly a new car depreciates as soon as it leaves the dealer’s lot.

        Trading in a 1 year old car to buy another new car is incredibly stupid, especially when the goal is to “save” about $500 a year in gas by going from a vehicle that get 16 mpg to one that gets 20 mpg.

        Again, the sales tax alone in my state is just under 10% (along with all the other ridiculous dealer and licensing fees) it costs thousands just to transfer vehicles, even of you want to somehow ignore the obvious depreciation factor of selling a 1 year old new car for another new car.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    This brought to light a memory of a discussion I had with an acquaintance a few years ago. He had sold his Prevost motorcoach to buy a new one. He was proud that the new one, with a direct-injection Diesel (I think… can’t recall the exact details) got nearly twice the fuel-economy as his old coach… about 4 mpg.

    Perhaps this was more of a justification to appease his wife or something, as I can’t imagine anyone buying a motorhome that cost new over $1,000,000 really worrying about filling up the gas tank with Diesel. He did spend nearly full time traveling on the road and pulling an enclosed car trailer, so the fuel cost would certainly add up but not to the tune of dropping a couple of hundred $k on the old one. Then again, the interior of this thing was nicer than my house.

  • avatar
    replica

    I buy based on price, then fun. As long as I get at least 20 MPG, I don’t really care. My current car gets 27+ in heavy traffic (2012 Mustang), I didn’t really expect that. But cool. It’s amusing that I get better mileage than pretty much every small SUV that cares to look down their noses at me as I zip by. Even my 2008 GT got about 24-25 MPG, beating my coworker’s CRV.

    On another note, why do hipster environmentalists embrace Subaru and VW? Both brands get sub-par MPG, especially Subaru.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      The Subaru Impreza is actually the most efficient AWD car ever sold in the US in the entire history of the EPA rating regime.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        The NEW Impreza is. I believe replica is talking about all those years of Subarus that got roughly the same fuel economy as a same model year Impala or Crown Victoria. Now personally I don’t “hate on” 25mpg hwy but if Subaru is loved by the earth loving crowd… why? It can’t be fuel economy.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        I randomly looked up a late model Impreza, since that’s what I see creeping around the Seattle area. 19/24 with 21 combined MPG. lol. That’s beyond terrible for a small 4 cylinder car. Again, my Mustang gets 27 MPG mixed, and my GT did slightly better. Of the 20 cars or so I’ve owned, I don’t think I’ve ever had a car with that terrible of mileage.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        @ replica

        Are you sure you’re not looking at the WRX fuel economy? Not even the first generation was that bad MPG-wise in non-RS/WRX/STi form.

        The new “base” Impreza gets good MPG for an AWD car – better than a (FWD) Jetta with the “older than Methuselah” 115 hp 2.slow!

        Edit: That is a 2.5 GT (sort of an automatic WRX) you’re looking at…

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2010_Subaru_Impreza.shtml

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      “27+ in heavy traffic (2012 Mustang).”

      I know hypermiling Prius drivers who get just slightly above for heavy traffic driving. I think your MPG gauge is broken, getting almost double the EPA estimates for city.

      Subarus are not that bad for a CUV/wagon with AWD. They’re getting 29MPG highway / 22MPG city for a pretty heavy vehicle. The Imprezas are doing 36MPG highway / 27MPG city. They’re not too far from the norm. Also, one thing they advertise is that their Indiana plant is a zero-waste operation – that a single family home produces more waste in a day than their entire plant in Indiana. And that they’ve had PZEV vehicles since 2003. So their enviro cred is justified.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        I do it pretty much every day. I think I’m at 9 tanks of gas. I write down everything and track it on Fuelly.com.

        Worst I’ve done is 25.2, best was 29.5.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Why do “hipster environmentalists” embrace Subaru and VW?

      My guesses:

      Subaru – more efficient than other AWD vehicles, environmentally friendly manufacturing process, lots of cargo room for outdoor activities, reasonable fuel economy in newer models.

      VW – TDI available, hatchbacks and wagons, fun to drive, nice interiors

      Both are also considered “cool”, I guess.

      *(I’m not what anyone would call a “hipster”, but I like both Subaru and VW.)

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        I dig the TDI versions of VW’s. Their other cars aren’t terribly fuel efficient. Though, VW has always had hipster cred for reasons unknown.

        I like Subaru for the same reasons you do. Though, I still don’t understand their environmental cred, their MPG just isn’t that great. Best AWD gas mileage? I’m sure it is since their only main competition is likely a truck.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        The main CUV competition for the Forrester is the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, which will attain similar fuel mileage – when equipped with AWD.

        All three are a tad short on horsepower when loaded down with 2 or 3 passengers and luggage.

        At least Subie still offers an available manual transmission on the Forrester. The manual is only available on the base model. So, no Bluetooth infotainment system with Nav for you.

  • avatar
    wsn

    I agree with the statement “People SAY they care about fuel economy, yet they still buy way-too-large inefficient and overpowered vehicles in droves.”

    Just look all those new F150s that will never have anything in the bed.

    Reminds me of something else about bed. For the past many decades, when researchers survey people on the topic of infidelity, it’s like 50% of men and 10% of women have been doing it. Come on, those men must be doing it with their horses (or camels). In recent years, however, the rate for women gradually increase to the same level of men, as women become more honest with the surveys.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    Based on the new cars I drive with during a daily commute, I’d say the average American doesn’t worry too much about MPG. Sure, if SUV A gets 2-5 more MPG than SUV B that might make them buy A, but getting 15+ more miles per gallon isn’t enough yet to move them to a smaller car segment. MPG only matter within a segment. Gas would have to become $10 a gallon before the average American gets out of an SUV.

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    Bertel, CR did not interview me! If they had I would have told them that fuel economy is important as it hits my finances but it has never been the deciding factor in my choosing a vehicle. I am currently in a e39-530i BMW and a V-6 VW Passat, go figure, they both avg over 20 in town and that works for me. They are also fun, safe and very capable cars to drive and THAT is FAR more important to me than the mpg. Grace, space and pace!

    Stan

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    Even outside of enthusiast’s circles, I figured performance would rate higher than this. At the same time most readers of consumer reports probably aren’t the most exciting (I only get the yearly car review issue.)

  • avatar
    Yoss

    Not that I don’t care about mileage and the cost of fuel, but let’s say you plug in some rough figures of 10,000 miles per year at $4 per gallon. Now let’s suppose we have a V6 sedan that gets 26 mpg and an econobox that gets 45 mpg. The difference in the price of fuel is only about $650. Even if you go to something like 80 mpg you’re only saving about $1,000 in a year.

    It’s damning math like this that keeps me from buying a motorcycle “to save money on gas.”

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      Say you keep your car seven years. Multiply $650 by 7 years; you get $4,550. If you keep the your car 10 years, that’s $6,500, or more than half the price of a brand new Nissan Versa or Hyundai Accent. That doesn’t look so insignificant anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        Yoss

        No question that it adds up. It’s just that unless you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, $650 in a year isn’t that big of a hit. (I’m also thinking of it in terms of the original chart which indicates people are choosing fuel efficiency over reliability at a rate of 2 to 1. Once a car slips too many pegs on reliability, repair costs will take their toll on fuel savings.)

        Right now, I’m driving something I tolerate. I’d love to get rid of it, but I’m practical enough that I plan to drive it for another 4 years when I expect to hit 200K. When the time comes, if I find something I like that gets within spitting distance of 30 mpg on the highway, I’m not going to worry my head off that it doesn’t get 35 or 40 mpg.

  • avatar
    John

    What’s interesting to me about this list isn’t what’s on top – it’s whats on bottom – more technology. To me, this means people are screaming they are tired of 300 page owner’s manuals, or worse, DVD’s or THE WORST – freakin iPads – to figure out how to turn on the damn radio!

    • 0 avatar
      swilliams41

      Ford sync is great to use but I know of folks who hold the phone to talk while driving rather than use it. I will never understand that. I am a tech junkie.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Ultimately, there’s no way around the fact that more fuel economy=less power. And less power means you have to flog your vehicle like a lunatic to keep from getting run off the road! I think that’s what’s really behind most of these fuel economy complaints, I mean the 4 cylinder Buick Lacrosse is supposed to get 25-36 mpg but come on you’ll be lucky to get 25 the way you have to drive that thing…

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      That might be true about cars, but not across vehicle classes. My supersport with 100hp @ 400 pounds is significantly faster (in general) than my Subaru with 300hp @ 3400 pounds.

      Bike averages 43mpg
      the Subaru about 20…

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      No. Same car, same engine, same weight, but with better fuel conversion efficiency = more power AND efficiency.

      We’ve seen dramatic improvements in power without huge drop-offs in mpg. Thus, you can get both. A great example is the new crop of DI gas engines.

  • avatar
    lw

    I’m convinced that there is a price per gallon of gasoline that incents someone to build a Star Trek transporter.

    There is a guy, he knows how to do it, but he’s watching reruns of HeeHaw most of his waking hours.. Then one day, gas hits $X per gallon and POW!

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget.

      Damn it Jim! I’m a doctor, not a science experiment.

  • avatar
    John R

    I feel like mileage is one of the only metrics most americans can firmly grasp. If that’s true then the weight given to its importance may be disproportionate. I believe my continued sightings of Prii trying to do 90mph in the left lane bare this out.

  • avatar
    VA Terrapin

    It’s no surprise that a sudden and sharp increase in gas prices cause people to want to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. Last month, the Prius, Prius V and Prius C outsold the Corolla and Matrix. Diesel sales have gone up 35% in the first quarter of this year. March average MPG figures reached a new record http://tinyurl.com/cogyt22.

    Pickup truck sales track with the housing market. Lots of pickup truck buyers buy them for business and can use tax write offs to reduce their overall expenses.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I’m convinced the reason for the various Prius editions are selling is because they actually work and have been reliable.

      I hope the Volt achieves success as well, as I think it is a knock-out. The market will decide…

  • avatar
    rpn453

    What does this even mean? Factors that influenced the purchase of my current vehicle include practicality, features, performance, reliability, style, comfort, purchase price, safety, insurance price, and fuel economy. Should I be able to say that one of those factors is more important than any another? Any one of those components could be downgraded far enough that I wouldn’t have bought the car even if everything else was the same.

    If Car A has slightly better fuel economy but is worse in every other way than Car B, do these survey respondents automatically buy Car A?

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      rpn453 said: If Car A has slightly better fuel economy but is worse in every other way than Car B, do these survey respondents automatically buy Car A?

      This is a straw man argument. Consumer Reports isn’t saying that fuel economy overrides other considerations when people are buying a car. CR is saying that more people place fuel economy as the most important factor compared to other factors. This doesn’t mean that people don’t consider other factors to be important.

      The latest sales figures seem to bear out CR’s findings. The Versa, Accent and Sonic are selling very well. Toyota hybrid and Volkswagen diesel sales have gone up a lot this year. The average fuel economy of cars sold in March set a new record.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    If this is right then I expect that B and C class cars will be the top sellers this month. Anybody want to bet on that?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “If this is right then I expect that B and C class cars will be the top sellers this month.”

      If you read the actual link from CR and the other data that is provided, then no, you wouldn’t make that conclusion.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I think it’s a consideration but not an overriding consideration. I think room/comfort/useability/perceived durability is still the main factors people think about.

    Fuel economy is definite becoming more important and most like the youth see that as a bigger factor than people buying cars today. So in 10-15 years that will probably be the biggest factor.

    For myself whatever I buy is going to have to get 35+mpg highway when I return. Having lived here in China for a bit, I cannot conceive of a way where petrol prices don’t start climbing even more dramatically in the next 10 years. There is just too much demand coming out of SE Asia.

  • avatar

    let’s see:

    quickest payback for diesel-powered TDI beats out every alternative vehicle …

    not only does 100% biodiesel enjoy a higher cetane rating (65 to petroleum diesel’s 39), is non-toxic & non-cancer-causing (to petroleum diesel pollution #2 cause of pre-mature death): catf.us/diesel/dieselhealth/ … and enter your zip code …

    wait for it …

    biodiesel is approximately $1.00 a gallon LESS expensive than petroleum diesel: http://www.trianglebiofuels.com/

    … the day 50.1% of Americans care enough to be self-sufficient & lower our health risks for cancer = the day there will be B100 (100% biodiesel) stations in every city and town and along every highway.

    Until then, business as usual: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/biodiesel_locations.html

  • avatar
    smallenginesmakemesad

    I have this problem solved.

    I have:

    (a) a company fuel card – so my boss pays for my fuel.

    (b) a 500 CID Cadillac Eldorado that gets 10 mpg on a good day.

    • 0 avatar

      http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/tech/2007/11/20/callebs.pimp.my.hybrid.cnn#/video/tech/2007/11/20/callebs.pimp.my.hybrid.cnn

      keep the big eldorado & its comforts …

      save your boss big bucks

      put a green gearhead on your bumper

  • avatar
    redav

    Fundamental flaws in the analysis:

    - The survey only shows that more people picked efficiency as their top factor. It does not tell us what other factors are important to those people, or in what order. For all we know, “performance” was a close #2 for 94% of the responders. This flaw is common on these types of surveys.

    - We don’t know what kind of constraints consumers were considering when answering these questions. Case in point, if mpg is the MOST important thing to 37% of the market, the Prius would have 37% of the market. But we don’t. Which means there are other, real-world constriants that the survey doesn’t capture.

    - Instead, what this survey would indicate is that if a consumer was given a choice between two nearly equivalent cars, which differences will they look at? Many will look at mpg first, which makes sense since that is in big print on the window sticker. Very few will look at 0-60 first.

    - If this were real market research, it should have two parts: one for rating each factor on its own (e.g., is fuel efficiency of low, medium or high importance), and a second for ranking the factors to each other (e.g., is performance or styling more important). The reason for this is that the first tells automakers what consumers are looking for when shopping for a car, while the second indicates what they will use when choosing between options.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    If this were true, I’d be seeing less station wagon crossovers on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      Like some said above, people aren’t necessarily buying the most fuel efficient vehicles outright, but are buying more fuel efficient vehicles within a segment. 10 years ago, the best selling SUVs were midsize, like the Explorer and Trail Blazer. Now, compact CUVs dominate SUV sales charts. The V6 take rate for Ford F-150s, including ones with Ecoboost, is over 50%. Camry Hybrid sales have grown to more than 10% of total Camry sales.

      For a lot of people buying new cars now, fuel economy is a big deal. Recent sales figures back up this claim.


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