Saving cash at the pump is as easy as driving one of five fuel-efficient small diesel cars.
Although much ballyhooed, gas-electric hybrids and electric cars aren't the only vehicles capable of fuel-cost savings. Diesel-powered cars save money, too.
Despite costing $2,000 to $2,500 more than a comparably equipped gasoline version of the same car, doing a little math proves that, through higher mile per gallon capability, diesels recoup the premium paid at purchase more quickly than hybrids by as much as three years.
Moreover, the majority of vehicles with diesel-engine options still demand more than 100 percent of that option's manufacturer's suggested retail price three years after purchase, says Ricky Beggs, vice president and managing editor of Black Book, the publisher of used-car values. "Hybrids with their initial premium over regular gas models do not have the positive return," he says.
European carmakers have kept diesel technology alive. Consequently, Bankrate's five small diesel cars are all German imports. Some reflect 2011 pricing, but performance and specifications will apply to 2012 models.
There was no qualifier for this list other than the vehicles should be small, diesel-powered cars. Fuel economy numbers are Environmental Protection Agency estimates and are presented as city/highway/combined.