When Earth Day marked the birth of the modern environmental movement back in 1970 Americans were driving V8 sedans that slurped leaded gas. It was an age when air pollution was thought to be prosperity's smell.
Fast forward 47 years and the choice of an efficient used vehicle does not mean you have to make any compromise on features or style.
Fuel economy is now seen as one of the most important considerations when buying a car, even at times when gas prices are down - because there is no way they will stay that way.
Cars today offer great fuel economy, along with driver friendly features and good performance. Combined with the alternative powertrains that are now available buyers have a dizzying array of choices, with hybrids and electrics adding to the appeal.
Take the Toyota Prius. Newer models can return 52 mpg overall, a big improvement on the old days when this model could only squeeze 44 mpg. If that is not attractive enough, this is a car that handles responsively and drives very comfortably.
Design is a factor with:
·colorful digital gauges dominating the dashboard and boasting of impressive information about fuel-economy
·a touch-screen infotainment system
For the really fuel conscious, the Prius can be driven solely on electric, up to speeds typically of around 25 mph. Watch out for pedestrians who may not notice you're there because the engine is now quieter than ever.
Competitive when compared to midsized sedans the modern powertrains and swoopy styling make this an appealing choice for drivers looking for stylish fuel efficiency.
Easy to use controls and a quiet cabin provide a comfortable ride. The handling is responsive too. It is reported that the smaller 1.5-liter models can return around 29 mpg. But the hybrid that utilizes the Chevrolet Volt’s technology can return 41 mpg overall.
Lexus CT 200h
This small hatchback offers some excellent fuel economy, but don't be fooled by the brand. Although the cabin uses quality materials, this does not have the same refinement as its bigger and older cousins. It does, however, offer considerable ride comfort. It uses the same powertrain as earlier Prius models, and its 40 mpg is only marginally less that the larger Toyota. Like the Prius, the CT can be drive just on electric power at low speeds. It has a choppy ride that may appeal to enthusiastic drivers and overall its handling is secure and responsive.
This is reminiscent of one of Europe's sports sedans and as a result is a delight to drive. Its ride and handling are both is nimble and supple. Ford has really put effort into the levels of trim and the powertrains are upscale and solid. The cabin is quiet and well finished. It comes with 1.5- and 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinders and a Sport version that has all-wheel drive and a 2.7-liter V6, which are capable of returning a not-to-be-sniffed at 39 mpg .
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