With fuel prices hitting $4.20 in parts of California and the high $3.80's in most states, fuel economy has surged to the top of many car buyers’ priority list.
Here are our picks for Top 5 Cars over 40 MPG.
2011 Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius is the flagship hybrid vehicle of this era with a record 51/48 mpg for a gasoline-run car. At $4 a gallon, the Prius cost to fill the tank is $48 with up to 595 miles per full tank. The Prius is versatile, offering a combination of power modes Eco, Power, and Normal that differ in fuel consumption for better or lesser performance. Two downsides are its higher MSRP and oft comparisons to the Honda Insight which sacrifices speed and slightly lower fuel economy (40/43 mpg) for the $3000 price difference.
2011 Chevrolet Cruze
The $17.000 Cruze replaces the mediocre Cobalt with a re-emphasis on design, hitting high marks with 36-mpg highway fuel economy, two engines (1.4 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine for 138 HP and a 1.8 liter four cylinder engine for 136 HP) and sedan-like cargo space at 15.9 cubic feet. The Cruze looks to lead the class in the next several years with its roll out across the ultra-competitive European and Asian markets, a practice General Motors has shied away from in favor of rolling out different versions of the same car in different markets.
2011 Honda Civic Hybrid
The $23,950 Honda Civic Hybrid runs at 43/40 mpg with a $49 cost to full tank and 510 miles per tank range. Despite sharing the same drivetrain, the Civic Hybrid is an upgrade over the $18,000 Insight with more features than the Insight.
2011 Nissan Leaf
With 100 miles per charge and an unprecedented estimated 106/92-mpg, the all-electric Nissan leaf is the highest priced on this list at $32,000 with a tax credit of $7500 driving down the price to $25,000. What's more - it takes eight hours to charge and less using Nissan's quick charging station. By the numbers, the Leaf costs less than $400 a year in electricity costs (assuming 10 cents per kilowatt at 15,000 miles driven). Compare that to the $1500+ fuel cost of a Honda Accord and you are looking at significant cost savings.
2011 Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai is quietly rising to the top of the compact car ranks with its Elantra, a former also-ran turned powerhouse with 29/40 mpg, 140HP, and a bargain price starting at $14,830. At $4 a gallon, that is a $51 cost to fill tank with up to 538 miles per tank. The Elantra has been redesigned for 2011 in two trims (GLS and Limited), both with 1.8 liter four cylinder engines with a six speed manual transmission standard with the GLS. What's more, the 40-mpg applies to both transmissions, unlike other models that fail 40 mpg by 1 or 2 mpg.