Gas prices seem to get uglier by the minute. The average price of gas has risen from $3.56 March 21 to $3.68 on April 4, according to the Energy Information Administration. Small wonder, then, that sales of hybrid cars are way up, according to AutoObserver.com:
Gas-electric hybrid models, led by the Toyota Prius - the segment's 800-lb. gorilla – accounted for a 2.81 percent share of the light vehicle market in March, the biggest slice of the sales pie since they hit 2.93 percent in October 2009.
The numbers still don't top the monthly sales records set in the hybrid segment during the 2007 gas price run-up, when consumers saw $3-a-gallon gasoline for the first time, but many analysts are predicting we'll see the $5 gallon by the end of the year. That ought to be good for record sales of anything that gets more than 30 miles per gallon, hybrid or not.
Hybrids are great, and they'll probably get more attractive from a frugal point of view as gas prices rise over time. But for now, their higher initial cost limits their overall value for pennywise folks.
Luckily, TrueCar.com recently published a study of compact, fuel-efficient cars, scoring them on a scale that takes into account both their average price after discounts and incentives and their combined fuel economy. Here's the list, in order of overall value, along with its average sales price and EPA combined fuel economy, according to TrueCar:
- 2011 Chevrolet Aveo -- $14,579; 28.4 mpg
- 2011 Hyundai Accent -- $13,811; 30.4 mpg
- 2011 Toyota Yaris -- $13,685; 31.4 mpg
- 2011 Kia Rio -- $14,394; 30.4 mpg
- 2011 Mazda 2 -- $15,448; 29.4 mpg
- 2011 Toyota Corolla -- $16,010; 29.1 mpg
- 2012 Fiat 500 -- $17,000; 29.8 mpg
- 2011 Nissan Versa -- $15,913; 30.4 mpg
- 2011 Honda Fit -- $15,780; 30.8 mpg
- 2011 Ford Fiesta -- $16,445; 33.1 mpg
Sure, few if any of these cars are going to wow you with roominess and style, but if you're looking for a car to reduce your overall commuting costs, this list is a good place to start.
Keep in mind, too, that many of the Japanese cars on this list may be hard to find going forward because of a combination of increasing demand for high-mileage vehicles and shortages stemming from the earthquake in Japan.