The lone upside of losing your car to Hurricane Sandy? Getting a more efficient ride

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy's fury, some of the most indelible images were those of flooded streets and buildings—and thus, cars—as well as interminable lines for gasoline. The insurance claims are still rolling in, but projections suggest that the number of totaled vehicles may reach the hundreds of thousands. And while petroleum and the power to pump it has been restored in many areas, the question of the next oil shock that creates miles-long lines at fueling stations isn't if, but when.

Since drivers with comprehensive coverage will get the full value of their flooded vehicles, and with the growing efficiency of modern vehicles, it only made sense to put two things together to encourage, post-Sandy, a sort of regional force majeure Cash for Clunkers.

Already, several automakers have stepped in with special offers to owners and shoppers hit by Sandy's wrath, including larger rebates and employee-level prices. Below, please find our high-efficiency replacement suggestions for a variety of common vehicle types. Note that our propositions pertain both to folks who lost a newer car, as well as those who had their beater inundated. In each category, we've also made an unorthodox recommendation, for those who want to take some time to think different:


Family Sedan: If our nation's automotive sales were a jelly donut, mid-sized family sedans would be the goopy, formless filling that holds the center. Everything else is just flour, fat, and sugar. If you drive one of these vehicles, you're likely uninterested in acceleration, handling or other driving dynamics. So why not take advantage of recent advances, and economies of scale, in battery technology, and replace your drowned jam blob with a hybrid jam blob?

New Car Pick: With the new Ford Fusion, has finally built a family sedan that's not hideous or boring, and the Hybrid version is rated at 47 m.p.g. city and highway.

Used Car Pick: Either you've already given up or you don't care what you drive. Just buy some sort of 2003-2009 Toyota Prius.

Out of the Box Pick: Go diesel. Diesel engines deliver nearly the fuel efficiency of hybrids, without all the added price, weight, and complexity. We're fans of pretty much any Mercedes or Volkswagen diesel sedan made in the past thirty years, but the modern VW Passat and Jetta diesels have a growing base of enthusiasts.

Pickup Truck:

Nothing is more emblematic of American individualism and genital insecurity than an enormous, V8-powered pickup. But all that mass and displacement requires a shunted I.V. pipeline drip. So it's time to ask yourself two questions: Do you really need that much engine? And do you really need that much truck?

New Car Pick: Consider a smaller powerplant. Ford's twin-turbo EcoBoost in the Ford F-150s makes V-8 power with V-6 efficiency. Ditto the Ram's 305 h.p. Pentastar V-6, which, when coupled with an eight-speed automatic, achieves up to 25 mpg on the highway.

Used Car Pick: Consider a smaller truck. Once upon a time there was such a thing as a compact pickup. Search for: VW Rabbit Pickup, Chevy Luv, Mazda B2000, or Toyota Hi-Lux. More modern mid-sized pickups can also fit the bill, like the GMC Canyon, Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, and Toyota Tundra.