If you are looking for a car with good fuel economy, there are plenty of choices no matter what body style you want, according to the latest study by Baum & Associates, a group of auto industry analysts.
For the first half of 2012, the average fuel economy rating for all new cars, crossovers, SUVs and light-duty pickups was 23.8 mpg -- a new record for new vehicles and an improvement of 1.1 mpg over the same period in 2011. The improvement in average fuel economy of all new cars comes at a time when small-car sales have slowed, compared to high consumer demand for them a couple of years ago.
The company attributed the improvement to the fact that cars have become more fuel-efficient across all body styles for the 2012 model year, since it is the first year of the new federal program that requires automakers to improve fuel economy standards across their entire product line.
In terms of gasoline-powered family sedans with a starting price less than $20,000, there are six 2012 models that have a 26 mpg combined city/highway rating or higher, according to Environmental Protection Agency data. Of the six models, Kia and its sister company, Hyundai, are leading the charge with the three best mpg ratings in this category: Hyundai Elantra (33 mpg combined), followed by the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, which both have a 28 mpg combined rating. In addition, the Subaru Legacy, Suzuki Kazashi and Volkswagen Passat all have a 26 mpg combined city/highway rating.
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter.