With higher gas prices prompting Americans to seek better gas mileage, high-MPG cars are surging in sales: Small cars made up about 25% of sales in March. But amid all the mileage talk, very few drivers know the real answer to: What is my fuel bill going to be?
Car-shopping site Edmunds.com has done the math on monthly costs at recent gas prices; it recently ranked wallet-busters and super-savers in different categories of 2011 models. The range of costs was startling: Within the same size class, the thirstiest can run up a gas bill two to three times that of the best gas sippers.
Edmunds assumed you drove a typical 1,250 miles a month (15,000 a year). Its analysts did these rankings after the national average price of gas calculated by AAA rose above $3.50; it is now nearly $3.70 (and above $4.00 in California). Obviously, monthly costs change as gas prices do.
But the vehicles’ relative rankings won’t change much - and the Edmunds calculations give a good snapshot of how much an efficient car can brighten your gas budget. Additionally, these rankings provide comparable costs for alternate fuels such as natural gas and plug-in electrics.
Let’s have a closer look at the best and worst in four categories:
This ranking shows the most intriguing range of costs. The plug-in Nissan Leaf shows monthly charging costs of just $41 a month; its competitor the Chevrolet Volt - which uses some gas for a back-up generator - takes $58 in monthly costs. (See Chevrolet Volt: What Will the Car of the Year Really Cost You?) The Honda Civic GX, fueled by natural gas, would cost $46 a month if you had a home fueling 2011-toyota-priusstation and $87 a month if you bought from commercial stations. (See Save Money on Gas: Buy a Natural Gas Fueled Car). The monthly gas bill for a Toyota Prius hybrid (51 mpg city, 48 highway) - at left - would be $89.
Ranked worst for monthly gas costs among small cars is the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, a high-performance all-wheel drive car with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With just 17 mpg in city driving, 23 on the highway, its monthly gas bill would be $249 - six times the cost of the Nissan Leaf and 2.8 times that of the Prius.
With no plug-ins in this category, the lowest mid-size fuel costs belong to the Ford Fusion Hybrid, at right. Ranked by the EPA at 41 mpg city, 36 highway, its monthly fuel bill is $108. Just behind is the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (35 mpg city, 40 highway) at $111.
Most costly in this segment is the Volkswagen CC VR6 -another all-wheel-drive performance model with a six-cylinder engine ranked at 17 mpg in city, 15 highway. Its monthly fuel bill is $225 - just more than twice that of the hybrids.
Hybrids rule here too, with the Ford Escape Hybrid (34 mpg city, 31 highway) topping this list at $132 in monthly fuel costs. That’s half as much as “worst” pick: off-roading champion Jeep Wrangler (15 mpg city, 17 highway), at $263.
As Edmunds analyst John O’Dell notes, “Unless your daily commute is across the Rubicon Trail, it might make sense to bank the $131 a month you would save with a Ford hybrid and use it to rent a Wrangler for your annual two-week trek into the wilderness.”
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid (28 mpg city, 28 highway) tops this list at $158 monthly fuel costs but the Chevrolet Equinox, at right, with a standard gas engine ranked at 22 mpg city, 32 highway, is not far behind at $172.
Chevrolet Equinox 2011
The four-wheel-drive Nissan Pathfinder, with a 5.6-liter V-8 engine rated at 13 mpg city, 18 highway, is worst at $343 a month - among several Nissan, Toyota Mitsubishi and Mazda models in that part of the rankings. “You know it’s a brave new world out there when a list of the most fuel [efficient] midsize SUVs includes a domestic model - the Chevrolet Equinox - while the worst fuel economy in the segment is being racked up almost entirely by import models,” says analyst John O’Dell.
Of course, saving on fuel is only one aspect of automotive budgeting. The initial cost of that high-mileage car may take too long to pay back from gas savings. (See The Best Cars for High Gas Prices). But with the prospect of gas prices remaining high for the foreseeable future, it makes sense to at least consider cars with low fuel costs.
- AMC AMX: The First True Sports Car of the 1960s? Bill Wilson
After World War II ended, Americans went on a well-deserved spending spree. Newfound prosperity combined with technological advances gave the public a hunger for products with cutting-edge features, and cars were no exception. By the 1950′s the rise of youth culture, led by teens and young adults with real spending power, …
“Get it in gear, damnit!” Have you ever yelled these words out to yourself while trying to learn to drive stick? Or perhaps you are not a neophyte to the row-your-own shifter, but are dealing with an older car, without synchomesh, making the process of getting the car in gear a daunting one. To take [...]
A charity drive in Singapore went quite awry when a convoy of Lamborghinis smashed into each other on one of the city-state's highways, with one of the cars catching fire. And while it's easy to assume that the supercars were at fault, initial reports contradict that assumption. It turns out the crash was a chain reaction …
If this is the first you are reading of rumors regarding the (hopefully) upcoming new Toyota Supra, this is probably the first time you’re reading our site. We’ve offered plenty of speculation and the latest from the rumor-mill. We even put together an original rendering of what this mean machine could look like (which …