2012 Car Review
2012 Car Review
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How to beat 40 mpg without a hybrid car

2012 Car Review » How to beat 40 mpg without a hybrid car

A high miles-per-gallon rating doesn't automatically mean a hybrid car anymore.

When it comes to fuel economy, there's a wide array of cars with traditional internal combustion engines that are rated at 40 mpg or higher on the highway. Being fuel efficient also doesn't require you to drive a diminutive subcompact or a sluggish, nondescript car. There are actually quite a few choices from a range of automakers that will suit almost anyone's style -- and you won't need to pony up big bucks for your new fuel-efficient car, either.

High gas prices have led to consumer demand for cars that have high fuel economy, while new federal fuel economy standards have required automakers to find more ways to increase fuel efficiency. Increasingly, automakers have turned to a variety of techniques to improve miles per gallon without increasing car prices. Turbochargers are used on smaller engines to provide extra power when needed. Larger, more powerful engines sometimes have technology that shuts down cylinders when not needed to reduce gas consumption.

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Overall, cars have become more aerodynamic on their exterior surfaces as well as under the body, while many components are made from lighter-weight materials. The use of continuously variable transmissions, or CVTs, can vary the engine's RPMs to improve fuel economy to the point of often being more fuel efficient than their manual-transmission counterparts while still maintaining the convenience of driving an automatic.

Buying a gasoline-powered car that gets 40 mpg or more also puts a smaller dent in your wallet than buying most hybrids that sell in a higher range of car prices. Due to their technology, hybrids go for a premium over their gasoline counterparts, which in some cases can range from about $500 to several thousand dollars more than a gas car. There are a wide variety of gasoline-powered cars currently on the market that are EPA-rated for 40 mpg or more on the highway, with car prices for some of the most popular models ranging from $12,445 to $19,455.

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