Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Vehicles for 2007High-mileage doesn't mean dull
We got our first wakeup call back in the 1970s with the oil embargo, long lines at the gas pumps and prices that rose to a level that seemed atrocious then. The Greens have been pushing for more efficient use of natural resources forever, but since 9/11 they've been joined by those who see every dime we spend at the gas station as a threat to national security and self-sufficiency.
It doesn't really matter what the motivation, the effort by auto manufacturers to provide high-mileage, energy-efficient transportation has been re-doubled over recent years. So, how are they doing? The following list is a rundown of 2007 automobiles models based on combined mileage-a combined average of city and highway fuel mileage. Although there has always been controversy regarding the accuracy of such figures, they are still highly useful for purposes of comparison:
Toyota Prius: 55
The Prius' 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine generates an unassuming 76 horsepower. Although that's a far cry from the power generated by the Honda Civic hybrid, shoppers have literally been bidding over the sticker price in order to get this leading hybrid model. The appeal for some shoppers doesn't just start and stop at the excellent fuel efficiency factor as this Toyota also offers up some luxury options, like leather-trimmed interior and Bluetooth wireless technology.
Honda Civic Hybrid: 50
Striving for direct competition with the Toyota Prius, the Honda Civic Hybrid falls a bit short of receiving first place fuel-efficiency accolades, but it is indeed a very close second with a fair enough trade-off-more horsepower. The Civic Hybrid produces 110 horses, meaning that although overall it is 10 percent less efficient than the Prius, it offers over 30 percent more power to its driver. Civic is also available as less fuel-efficient, non-hybrid models with powertrain options ranging from 1.8-liter to 2.0-liter unleaded gasoline engines, including the sporty Civic Si. In addition, Honda Civic is offered with a 1.8-liter Natural Gas engine.
Toyota Camry Hybrid: 39
Known for it's luxury sedan size and comfort, the Toyota Camry sits close to the top of the list of best mileage getters thanks to its available hybrid engine that utilizes the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive System. One half of the system is a 2.4-liter 147 horsepower gasoline engine. The second half is a small but torque-giving 141 horsepower electric motor that works with a small inverter that uses its own battery, and a transaxle to deliver the efficient performance the Camry Hybrid is capable of. A longtime top seller, the Toyota Camry remains one of the most popular sedans sold in America. The Camry's non-hybrid models offer a broad range of powertrain options starting with a 2.4-liter 158 horsepower engine and climbing all the way up to a 3.5-liter 268 horsepower V-6.
Toyota Yaris: 37
Classified as a subcompact, the new Yaris is offered in sedan and liftback form to compete against the also small Honda Fit and Nissan Versa. The lightweight Yaris is sold with a sensible 106 horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A four-speed automatic transmission is optional, while a more fuel thrifty five-speed manual gearbox is standard.
Toyota Corolla: 36
If you've noticed the relationship between engine size and fuel economy, the Corolla is no exception. While still getting respectable mileage, the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gas engine hits 126 horsepower with nearly as much torque. The combined mileage is based on the Corolla's manual transmission, but the five-speed automatic isn't far behind. All Toyota Corolla models are delivered with the same 1.8-liter engine.
The subcompact Honda Fit competes with the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris. The standard 1.5-liter VTEC four-cylinder engine delivers 109 horsepower. Combined mileage is based on the Fit's standard five-speed automatic transmission, although the optional automatic produces results that are nearly as impressive. The available Honda Fit Sport, tuned to offer a bit more oomph for sport driving enthusiasts, offers a bit more power and a bit less fuel efficiency.
The MINI Cooper's standard 120 horsepower 1.6-liter engine with manual transmission offers an enticing blend of useable power and fuel efficiency. Unfortunately the same can't be said for other, more decked out MINIs. MINI Cooper S, MINI Cooper Convertible, and any possible combination of the two, while not exactly gas guzzlers, are unfortunately, not nearly as sensible with their consumption as their base model ancestor. Unfortunately cuteness points are not awarded.
Ford's little SUV is the only thing that approaches a truck to make the list. Ford uses the traditional combination of gas and electric motor to achieve the mileage, which is only available on the front-wheel drive model. The 4x4 Escape hybrid drops three miles per gallon, which is still a decent trade-off for the practicality of 4WD. This is also the biggest engine on the list, a 2.3-liter rated at 133 horsepower and 124 lb.-ft. of torque. Non-hybrid Ford Escape models, while still remaining fairly utilitarian, do not offer nearly as impressive efficiency.
The Kia Rio, available as a four-door subcompact sedan or as a five-door hatchback under the name Rio5, comes standard with a 110 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission, and offers an optional four-speed automatic. When driven with a manual transmission, the Kia Rio offers identical fuel efficiency satisfaction as the more popular Hyundai Accent.
The Hyundai Accent, sold standard with a five-speed manual transmission, and available with a four-speed automatic is powered by a 110-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Although the Accent, when equipped with a manual transmission, offers the same fuel efficiency as a comparably equipped Kia Rio, the Rio beats the Accent by one mile per gallon when each are equipped with an automatic transmission. Hyundai Accent offers greater horsepower and better fuel mileage than some of its well-known competitors like the Chevrolet Aveo and Scion xA.
Editor's note: Remember, your mileage may vary. Sorry...it's like the 'check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program' thing. Oh, and, buckle up!
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