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2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

2012 Nissan Versa

2012 Hyundai Accent Sedan

2012 Hyundai Accent Hatchback

2012 Mazda3
One hybrid, and two conventional autos aim for 40MPG

New CAFE restrictions are forcing all auto manufacturers to release more fuel efficient vehicles. As a result, it's becoming commonplace to see compact sedans cracking the 40 mpg (highway) barrier and hybrid vehicles are becoming more prevalent. 

At this week's New York Auto Show, three manufactures are showing off new models that come close to (or achieve) the magic 40-mpg mark in highway driving. 

The first model is Chevrolet's new midsize 2013 Malibu ECO. The entire Malibu range got a makeover for the 2012 model year, and the ECO is the most fuel efficient of the bunch. The Malibu ECO uses the same powertrain first seen in the Regal eAssist and LaCrosse eAssist from Buick. This means that a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with GM's mild hybrid system.

When all is said and done, the Malibu ECO is good for 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway -- the maximum driving range for the vehicle is 550 miles. The competing Fusion Hybrid offers fuel economy numbers of 41/36, but the Malibu ECO will likely cost much less (official pricing is not yet available) than the Ford's $28,990 price of entry. It may, however, find tougher pricing pressure from the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (35/40) which is priced from $26,545.

"Malibu ECO exemplifies Chevrolet's drive to use technology that delivers high-value, gas-friendly performance," said Scheidt. "In fact, the Malibu ECO delivers the fuel economy of a compact car in a midsize sedan."

Moving on the to the first of two smaller entries, Nissan is gearing up with its next generation 2012 Versa. This ungainly sedan is all-new and starts at a low, low $10,990. Nissan says that the sculpted body (CD of 0.31), lighter weight (the new model is 150 pounds lighter than the outgoing model), and fuel sipping 1.6-liter, 109hp engine make for impressive fuel economy. 

The Versa is rated at 33 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway (33 mpg combined).

"The new Versa Sedan stands out as the only expensive looking car in the segment – with a lot of eye power," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager for Nissan North America. "Its sculpted, dynamic proportions are modern without being gimmicky, projecting a much higher sense of design value than you might expect."

The last newcomer is Hyundai's new 2012 Accent. The new Accent features a 1.6-liter engine like the aforementioned Versa, but it generates a healthy -- for a subcompact -- 138hp. Despite the added power, the Accent manages to post up impressive fuel economy numbers as well. The Accent is rate at 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

"Accent's class-leading standard fuel economy is another showcase of Hyundai's dedication to improving fuel efficiency with advancements to traditional gasoline powered vehicles and is the fourth nameplate in Hyundai's lineup delivering 40 mpg on the highway."

The 2012 Accent is priced from $12,445, and will be available in sedan and hatchback models.

Updated 4/20/2011 @ 5:12pm EST

Here's another 40MPG vehicle for you today. Mazda just announced that its 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine would be made available in the 2012 Mazda3 (both sedan and hatchback models). The Mazda3 may be known for its handling prowess, but it's equally well known for its relatively low fuel efficiency compared to its other compact rivals. 

The new SKYACTIV-G engine (155hp @ 6,000 rpm, 148 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm) solves that problem by improving fuel economy from 24/33 (city/highway) in the previous 2.0-liter engine with a 5-speed automatic to 28/40 with a 5-speed automatic (sedan). Those who opt to row their own gears will see returns of 27/39.

The hatchback (which previously was only available with the 2.5-liter engine) will also now have the SKYACTIV-G option. In hatchback form, the vehicle achieves 28/38 with an automatic transmission and 27/38 with the manual transmission.

In addition to the new engine option, the 2012 Mazda3 models also get an updated front fascia that has less of a "smile" and revamped rear taillights.

"SKYACTIV is not just an engine; it is the next generation of advanced vehicle performance and efficiency," said Jim O'Sullivan, President and CEO, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). "SKYACTIV embodies Mazda's philosophy of engineering only vehicles that are fun to drive, satisfying to own and environmentally responsible; and there is no better vehicle to start with than the Mazda3, one of the most exciting sport compact cars on the road."



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RE: Nice.
By Nutzo on 4/20/2011 6:04:33 PM , Rating: 3
Don't care much about resell value, as I drive my cars until that are almost falling apart. After 10+ years there is little difference in resell value.

Of course I try to buy cars that will last for 10+ years, which generally means Toyota or Honda.

For people who disagree with me, check out Consumer Reports long-term reliabiity charts. There's little difference between cars the first 2-3 years, but after 5 years the gap starts to widen, and after 7 years there's a huge difference in reliability.

The only cars listed here that get significantly better milage are the hybreds, which turn a $23K car into a $28K car. Not worth the additional $5K unless you do alot of city driving. Of course this might change if gas end up over $6 a gallon.


RE: Nice.
By therealnickdanger on 4/21/2011 1:51:42 PM , Rating: 3
In any event, if someone is really so concerned about gas prices that he buys a new car, something is definitely off. Unless that person is already upside down on a car loan that gets him 8 MPG, it would be very hard to make a financial case for buying a new fuel-friendly car. The savings will most likely never be realized. A used Civic will fetch under 5K, be cheaper than dirt to maintain and fix even with high miles and problems, cheap to insure, and get you from Point A to Point B while getting 40MPG.

Meh, to each his own.


RE: Nice.
By JediJeb on 4/22/2011 10:04:53 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, I did the math the last time gas was this high and with as little as I drive going from 18mpg in my truck to 36mpg in a small car I would need to find one I could purchase with $80/month payments to make the gas saving pay for it. Not even the $10k Versa would fit that bill with less than 10 years of payments.

If you are in need of a new car then these would be some great picks to replace what you have, but if you are just looking to save money, be sure you do the math so that you don't end up paying out more while thinking you are saving, many times you are not saving any money at all.


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