Kelly Blue Books Top Picks for Best Fuel-efficient Vehicles

By: Kraig Johanssen

Along with the heat of summer come high gas prices. Consumers will undoubtedly want to find ways to save a few dollars at the pump.

Drivers are often encouraged to improve their vehicle's fuel economy by reducing air conditioning use, and checking important parts (like ) -- changing filters regularly, checking tire pressure, having fuel injectors cleaned and using a fuel additive to increase engine performance.
But are consumers actually using these fuel economy tips to help save money?

A recent Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study on fuel economy has revealed that nearly six out of 10 consumers say they would be likely to change their filters at scheduled intervals and/or check their tire pressure regularly to achieve greater fuel economy or save money. Nearly seven out of 10 consumers (68 percent) also believe that by performing some or all of the recommended gas-saving maintenance to their car, they would save up to $200 annually.

"Gas prices have reached levels that are causing consumers to take steps they may not have when pump prices were more moderate to improve fuel economy and save a few dollars," said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's "If these consumers actually perform all of these gas saving tips, it's likely they could save up to 15 or 20 percent of their entire fuel costs annually."

But the survey also revealed that only 23 percent say they would be willing to reduce air conditioning use. Even less popular options include having fuel injectors cleaned (17 percent), and using a fuel additive in each fill-up to increase engine performance (five percent).

Meanwhile, 26 percent of those surveyed said they would employ all of these recommended fuel-saving tips to achieve greater fuel economy or save money, and a contrasting five percent said they would do none.

When thinking about their next new-vehicle purchase, 69 percent of consumers are likely to change the vehicle they drive in order to improve their fuel economy or money situation: 22 percent would buy a hybrid version of a vehicle they already have; 21 percent would take a step down in vehicle size; 14 percent say they would buy a vehicle with a smaller engine or an engine with less power; and 12 percent say they would buy a diesel vehicle. Thirty-one percent of consumers say they would not change their next vehicle to improve fuel economy.

To help those consumers considering their next car purchase, the editorial staff at Kelley Blue Book's put together a list of fuel-efficient favorites. Here's the list:

Kelley Blue Book's Editors' Top Picks for Best Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Small Sedan
Honda Civic Hybrid - The Honda Civic Hybrid is the Prius alternative with more mainstream styling, if not all the fuel economy.

MPG - 40 (city), 45 (highway)

Mid-size Sedan
Nissan Altima Hybrid - Beneath its sporty-sedan sheet metal, Nissan's Altima Hybrid uses licensed Toyota hybrid technology.

MPG - 35 (city), 33 (highway)

Luxury Sedan
Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec - Powered by a state-of-the-art clean diesel engine, the Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec is as powerful and smooth as you'd expect anything wearing a three-pointed star to be.

MPG - 23 (city), 32 (highway)

Compact Pickup
Toyota Tacoma - The Toyota Tacoma's bulletproof reputation for reliability is bakced by some of the category's best fuel economy.

MPG - 20 (city), 26 (highway)

Full-Size Pickup
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra - GM's excellent new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are just about the most fuel-efficient full-size pickups out there.

MPG - 15 (city), 20 (highway)

Audi TT - The 2008 Audi TT deftly maximizes turbo power and efficiency in one fun and fuel-frugal coupe.

MPG - 23 (city), 31 (highway)

Small SUV
Ford Escape Hybrid - revamped for 2008, the Ford Escape Hybrid combines excellent mileage with SUV versatility.

MPG - 31 (city), 30 (highway)

Mid-Size SUV
Toyota Highlander Hybrid - The Highlander Hybrid is Toyota's only hybrid SUV, and the only one to boast a lineage that includes the revolutionary Prius.

MPG - 28 (city), 25 (highway)

Large SUV
GMC Acadia - With more cargo volume than the brand's own Yukon, the three-row GMC Acadia delivers everything most families require from a traditional full-size SUV but with significantly better mileage.

MPG - 16 (city), 24 (highway)

Mazda MX-5 - Some of the same characteristics that make the small and lightweight Mazda MX-5 one of the purest dirver's cars of all time help make it a joy at the gas pump too.

MPG - 22 (city), 27 (highway)

Honda Odyssey - What some consider the best minivan available, the Honda Odyssey, also delivers the best mileage. Under light loads, the Odyssey can cruise on just three of its six cylinders.

MPG - 17 (city), 24 (highway)

MINI Cooper - A secret weapon in the fight against fuel prices, the extremely fun MINI Cooper delivers highway mileage of up to 36 mpg.

MPG - 27 (city), 37 (highway)

Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe - The Toyota matrix and Pontiac Vibe cousins are small but tall wagons that have been delivering outstanding fuel economy since the 2003 model year.

MPG - 26 (city), 33 (highway)

* (Note: All fuel economy figures reflect the new-for-2008 model year guidelines, per

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