By on June 21, 2011


Didn’t you always have this nagging suspicion that MPG might be influencing the purchasing decision? At least a little bit? A brand-new survey says you are right!

  • 42 percent of people surveyed say fuel economy is “extremely important” in their decision to purchase new 2011 models – a 13.5 percent increase versus 10 years ago
  • 37 percent indicated they expect fuel economy will have the “greatest impact” on their next new vehicle purchase
  • After ranking 16th in 2001, fuel economy was listed in the top five most important purchase reasons for small utility vehicles in 2011
  • Fuel economy was listed in the top 10 most important purchase reasons for sports car buyers for the first time in 2011
  • Fuel economy as a top purchase reason for medium utility vehicles jumped 14 spots from 2001 to 2011

Who would have thunk it?

This is the result of the New Vehicle Customer Study, conducted by Maritz Research. Ford, which issued this press release, is happy to hear that “the Maritz Research survey results also track with Ford’s 2011 research and sales trends.”

It’s better to have two studies confirming the obvious than sitting in a meeting where someone says: “MPG matters? Show me the research!”

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21 Comments on “Survey Says: MPG Matters...”

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    “Who would have thunk it?”

    I dunno. Anybody who’s been following car & truck sales for the past few months?

    Big, thirsty trucks don’t sell.

    Small, efficient cars sell.

    Everybody moved down a size for a bump in economy.

    The OEMs who can make big, efficient (hybrid/PHEV) cars will do very well, the OEMs who can’t are in trouble.

  • avatar


    I bought my 2004 Impala after some extensive test-drives, one a base model and the other an LS.

    A salesman at a company I worked for had an Impala as his company car. A bunch of us piled into it one day for lunch – me in the back, and I was impressed with the ride and all, so I began to look further.

    At the time, I was having back issues and my 1996 Ford Ranger wasn’t helping a bit, just making it worse. After a business trip to the bay area, I decided it was time to buy a decent car that was comfortable and the Impala was it, as I was impressed with the comfort and gas mileage – very impressed.

    I locked on an Impala because our company had a supplier discount deal with GM that netted a buyer with a 7½% discount or there abouts right off the top, plus rebates/incentives.

    I found mine at a local dealer in the color and equipped exactly as if I ordered it. Base model, Capuccino Frost, split bench, sport appearance pkg. I wanted the most free interior room I could get and I do not miss not having a console as my feet and legs have lots of room to stretch out. Deal.

    Oh yes – the gas mileage is still good, around 33 mpg on the highway. Between 24.5 – 28.5 around town depending on traffic.

    Still happy and comfortable, too.

    • 0 avatar

      @Zackman: That’s some excellent mileage you get in city! I went down to a smaller engine combo to get that in my midsize car(Pontiac G6). Maybe I should have found a W-body instead? ;)

      • 0 avatar


        My Impala has the 3400 motor. I’m so cheap, I drive like I’m 80 instead of 60 sometimes, but I try my best to drive as smooth as possible. Now of course, I’ll average less if I do a lot of putting around in stop-and-go driving, but I don’t believe I ever got less than 21 mpg and that was when I was stuck in traffic and took two hours to get home in a snow storm a couple of times. The best mileage I ever got was on a trip with my wife to Kansas City. I went 472 miles on a tank with the cruise and A/C on, going pretty much the limit of 65-70 mph and averaged 34.6! That was when the car was almost new. As it has aged, I’ll be waiting to see what it will get in August when we travel to St. Louis for a long weekend.

      • 0 avatar

        @Zackman: That ain’t cheap, that’s wise. Hammering the crap out of your equipment is the sure way to ruin it. It never ceases to amaze me how folks will floor it from traffic light to traffic light and then complain that their car doesn’t get good gas mileage…

        I also drive like my grandfather, except when you p*ss me off ;) We’ve just got 40K miles on the G6, so we should start getting into the mileage I’m expecting to see. The last trip home to Cleveland we got in the high 20’s/low 30’s, mostly because they finally raised the speed limit on the Ohio Turnpike and I can drive like a Michigander there now! I;m sure if I actually drove the speed limit (or a little lower) I’d get the mid-30’s gas mileage I’m expecting. I’m too impatient on the Interstate, though.

    • 0 avatar

      33 mpg? That’s some good numbers. Even my Cobalt only manages 35 mpg max on highways (although I probably drive too fast) and in cities it gets pretty lame numbers.

      • 0 avatar

        But aren’t your numbers using Imperial gallons? My Focus SVT can do 35(Imperial) on the highway, so I’d expect a Cobalt to beat that substantially.

      • 0 avatar

        @sinister: my kid has a 2004 Pontiac Sunfire with the 2.2 Ecotec and the 4 speed 4T40 transmission. On her way back from Tennessee last week, she reportedly was getting in the neighborhood of 40 MPG. She’s her father’s daughter, and knows how to calculate observed fuel milage properly.

        My old 1997 Chevy Cavalier with the truck 2.2 OHV 4 cyl and the 4T40 would get me freeway fuel mileage in the high 30’s quite routinely. But as noted elsewhere, I’m pretty easy when accelerating and stopping. I use all of the on-ramp when I’m on the Interstate.

  • avatar

    Guess it’s just about time for me to start searching for a Saab 9-7x Aero.

  • avatar

    After having a small heart attack from filling up my Cavalier for $55+ in 2008, I vowed that any new car we bought would be more economical than the last. I turned in a Malibu Maxx V6 for a Pontiac G6 with an Ecotec the next year. The Maxx was a pretty economical car on the freeway, so I didn’t see much of a savings there, but the 4 cyl G6 is better on city driving. I can’t say that I’m saving a large sum of money, but every little bit helps.

    Someday I will have a hot rod again, but for now, it’s nice to be able to pass up gas stations.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you, but the problem is, there isn’t any more “up” to go.

      My ’84 Volvo 245 Diesel got 33 combined. I replaced it with a 2005 Scion xB that gets me 35 combined.

      Next step up is a hybrid or VW Diesel, neither place I am willing to go.

      • 0 avatar

        @eggsalad: I know what you mean. Currently all of our ‘fleet’ is all 4 cylinder gasoline cars.

        I’d like to replace one of my coupes with a small wagon of some sort, which could run the gamut from a 2WD crossover to something like a xB. One caveat, I’m 6’1″, 260 lbs, that eliminates a lot of cars for me.

        Regardless, when my old Chevy finally kicks the bucket, I don’t know if there will be anymore up to go, either.

  • avatar

    Any new car I could afford to buy is already a 4 cyl econobox that will get better than 30 hwy, Even the V-6 models of 4cyl cars like the Malibu are out of my price range. I wouldn’t mind seeing 100 horsepower 3 cyl lightweight cars that get 45+ mpg.

  • avatar

    With gas prices in Norway way over 2 dollars a litre, I try to find cars that can do better than 20mpg, but I occasinally happen to buy cars that do better than 30 :P

  • avatar

    I came “so close” to buying a replacement used pickup this weekend.

    Saw a really nice low miles one on sale in beautiful shape.Much more comfy than my Ranger.

    Thought about it but that V8 and the MPG, was a deal breaker.

    Went back a second time but even then with an even better price, I just couldn’t do the deal.

    The trucks still there on the lot, I guess I am not the only one.

  • avatar

    US drivers are begining to wake up to what the rest of us have suffered for years a big V8 is nice rumbling along but driving a 2 ton marshmallow isnt fun no matter how much power it has out here gas has been $2 per litre for a while that $9 per real gallon where diesel is $1.50 and you go further. I went to diesel with a Peugeot wagon great to drive but it died the to a POS Toyota Corona diesel cheap on fuel but noisy and rough riding now Ive got a 5 door hatch Citroen 54mpg its best highway but ut does 45 in town stick of course but its got climate air power most things its fast and comfortable. I miss having something that can fry tyres but I dont miss the fuel bills

  • avatar

    I wonder if there is a correlation between the increasing prevalence of advertised MPG figures and increased consumer awareness at decision time. I’m willing to bet there is. In fact I bet most folks could give you the EPA mileage ratings for their new car but not the tread width, curb weight or drag coefficient (each can have an impact on the much sought after MPG). What if advertisers forsook the MPG and included little more than curb weight and the obligatory “professional driver on a closed course” in the advertisements?

    Funny how these things work.

  • avatar

    So … People say they care about MPG.

    But this survey doesn’t actually monitor whether they are telling the truth or not!

    I believe that they care, but think about it … You got these people to list at lesat TEN priorities that they value in a car. How much weight do you think #10 has?

    Frankly, if you can find a way to completely satisfy 2 or 3 priorities in a new car purchase, I think you are doing well.

    There is no car that will perfectly satisfy all 10.

    So how much impact does MPG have on a sports car (or other car) decision?

    Nobody really knows.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    I’d have thought some keen marketing bloke could have done some sort of regression analysis on this. Do people really care about mpg, or true cost per mile driven, or what?

    My guess is that TCO/mile is far more important than a minor part like fuel cost.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    People claim mileage is very important, but trucks still account for 50% of all sales in America and high mileage small cars around a much smaller share. It appears buying choices do not support the claim.

  • avatar

    When I bought a car ten years ago, fuel economy was very important in my purchase decision.

    Thank god. Now I’m not one of those assholes in a big truck or SUV dropping $100+ a week into the tank.

    However, for my next purchase, MPG will take a back seat to RWD & HP. But I’m still not going to be an asshole in a large gas guzzling truck or an SUV.

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