a more fuel-efficient car
Whether you drive a car, truck, minivan or sports
utility vehicle, choosing a more fuel-efficient model can
go a long way in cutting your costs. You don't have to go
hybrid to cash in on the savings, although it certainly helps.
Hybrid cars, which combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered
electric motor, suck up less gas and spit out less pollution
than conventional cars. Hybrid cars are the most fuel-efficient
vehicles available today.
"You will get better fuel economy with
a hybrid than you will with any other vehicle," says
Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green
With fuel prices soaring above $2 -- and in
some places $3 -- all over the country, it's easy to see why
hybrid cars such as the mid-sized Toyota Prius, the Honda
Insight, a sleek two-seater, and a hybrid version of the popular
Honda Civic are in hot demand.
The Prius gets an estimated 60 miles per gallon
in the city and 51 miles per gallon on the highway. The Insight
delivers an estimated 61 miles per gallon in the city and
66 miles per gallon on the highway. And the Honda Civic hybrid
gets an estimated 45 miles per gallon in the city and 51 miles
per gallon on the highway.
What drives your transportation needs?
As impressive as these mileage stats may be, there's much
more to consider when buying a car.
"If you have four children, it doesn't
really matter what gas mileage it gets, you've got to be able
to get all the kids in the car at once," says Brian Moody,
road test editor at Edmunds.com.
Before crunching the mileage numbers and estimating
your fuel cost savings, think long and hard about your transportation
Do you need a car to commute to and from work
or do you need a second car for quick errands around town?
Or are you looking for a vehicle that you can pile the whole
family into on a regular basis?
How many passengers are likely to be in the
vehicle for the majority of your driving trips?
Will a passenger car, sports utility vehicle,
minivan or van best serve your driving needs? Which class
of vehicle suits your sense of style? Which models fit your
budget? What model do you flat-out like the best?
An automobile is the second-largest purchase
most Americans ever make. You'd better enjoy what you drive.
"We're in them every day," Cogan says.
"Why would we buy something we wouldn't feel good being
in? At the showroom it has to speak to you."
Steer clear of sweet talk by inappropriate
Just make sure that the car that speaks to you in the showroom
really makes sense for your family. It's best to car shop
based on the majority of your driving needs, not your occasional
Do you really need to buy a full-sized pickup
truck for twice-a-year trips to Home Depot? Does that monster
sports utility vehicle you bought for your occasional ski
vacation make sense for your around-town driving?
You could spare yourself countless trips to
the gas station by buying a fuel-efficient vehicle for your
day-to-day driving needs and renting a larger vehicle for
"Go rent a Suburban or something,"
Cogan says. "Buy what you need most of the time.