How to Buy the Most Fuel Efficient Car

The average American spends thousands of dollars yearly on gasoline. Switching to a fuel-efficient vehicle can dramatically improve fuel economy and save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fuel. This Hearts guide to finding the most fuel efficient vehicle will help you make an informed choice for the maximum in fuel and cash savings.

Quick Facts: Saving Money with Better Fuel Economy

  • $2,000 for fuel each year: The average American spends $2,120.40 on gasoline annually, and a family with at least one teen driver will spend over $6,000 each year on fuel.[i]
  • $600 in fuel with a 2012 Nissan Leaf: That’s if they drive 15,000 miles annually with city fuel efficiency of 106 mpg and highway of 92 mpg.[ii] The owner of a 2010 Hummer H3 is estimated to spend $3,600 per year on fuel with a combined fuel economy of only 16 mpg.[iii]
  • $930 in savings with 10 mpg fuel efficiency improvement:[iv] Check out Climate Central’s calculator to discover how much fuel you use each year, how much you spend on gasoline, and how much CO2 you emit. Then use the EPA’s fuel economy comparison tool to find out how much money you’d save by switching to a more fuel efficient car.

Take Action! Buying a Vehicle with Increased Fuel Efficiency

  1. Research the most fuel efficient vehicles: Many resources are available today for helping you research which vehicles are the most fuel efficient. The two most reliable are ConsumerReports.org’s Guide to Fuel Economy and FuelEconomy.gov’s Most and Least Efficient Vehicles. Or use the comparison tool to pit one model against the other to see which will save you the most fuel.
  2. Consider a hybrid vehicle: Hybrid vehicles utilize both a gasoline combustion engine and an electric motor in order to improve fuel efficiency. These vehicles are often worth the higher pricetag.
  3. Consider an electric vehicle: Electric vehicles have significantly lower fuel costs than traditional combustion engine vehicles because they do not burn gasoline but instead are powered by electricity. They get an estimated equivalent of 73-112 mpg and cost only $550-$850 to fuel each year. Electric vehicles can also give you a tax credit of up to $7,500, helping to offset the higher upfront cost of the vehicle. Explore the price and fuel efficiency of current and upcoming electric vehicle models.
  4. Be on the look out for upcoming alternative fuel vehicles: If you are considering purchasing a new vehicle, stay up to date on developing alternative fuel technologies so that you can make a well-informed decision. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is expected to come to the United States soon and could deliver a combined fuel economy of 60 mpg. Other alternative fuel vehicles, such as those powered by ethanol, biodiesel, or propane, are selectively available. Federal tax incentives are available for qualifying vehicles.
  5. Support increased fuel efficiency standards: Get in touch with your Congressional representatives to voice your support of tougher federal fuel efficiency standards. The primary regulations are the CAFE standards issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Dig Deeper: Finding Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Image by Beige Alert

[i] H&R Block. (2012, March 4). How much Americans spend on gas every year [graphic]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/04/gas-prices-infographic_n_1316919.html

[ii] Compare Side-by-Side: 2012 Nissan Leaf. (n.d.). Retrieved from FuelEconomy.gov: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=32154

[iii] Compare Side-by-Side: 2010 Hummer H3 4WD. (n.d.). Retrieved from FuelEconomy.gov: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=29370

[iv] Save Money. (n.d.). Retrieved from FuelEconomy.gov: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/savemoney.shtml

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