When it comes to reports of falling gas prices, the late great Bob Marley said it best: “Don’t let ‘em fool ya.” The return of the iconic series Dallas won’t change that either. The truth is high gas prices are here to stay. So, for those who guard their wallets like pit bulls, getting the most value at the pump is top priority. Luckily, car manufacturers got the message early so, while the Prius still rules the greenscape, it’s not the only anti-gas guzzler in town. Here are a few more suggestions:
2012 Chevy Volt
Not that reported fires are anything to take lightly but hiccups are to be expected along the road of innovation. But, thankfully, the kinks are being ironed out because, overall, the Volt is a winner.
Being electric and gas-powered really makes it the best of both worlds. While pure electric cars are promising, we are not all the way there yet. Well, not if you actually want to go a lot of places that is. Experience zero “range anxiety” with the Volt. Once the electric power is used up, the Volt seamlessly switches over to gas. So, there’s absolutely no need to look for a charging station or be stranded hours as the car re-charges plus charging is easy as long as there is access to a regular electric outlet. So, it is totally reasonable to run the car on electric during the week to travel short distances and, then, hit the road on the weekends. Gas mileage, as we know it, hovers around 37 mpg but can inch up to nearly 100 mpg when the electric element is added in. Some owners have even reported filling up with gas once a month.
There’s nothing radically different about driving the Volt, which is a great thing. It’s actually a smooth ride with more than adequate power. Better yet, it’s spacious, comfortably accommodating at least 3 passengers. Also, it looks great. Push-button start, back-up camera, Bluetooth that’s easy to operate, Bose speakers and XM radio ensures there’s no lack of anything with this green endeavor. And the electronic display that lets you know where the electric and gas power stand is the coolest. Smartphone users will love that there are apps that allow for opening and closing the doors as well as charging the car when electricity rates are the cheapest, among other things.
With a base price starting at $39,995, it can get a little pricey but there is a federal tax credit of $7,500 to help ease that pain. Plus, depending on where you live, you may even get to ride in the HOV lane, even if you’re by yourself, in exchange for being so kind to the environment. And, as small as it seems, the windshield wipers work in the opposite direction (standard for most GM cars), making any torrential downpour manageable.
Sales for March began inching up with good reason. Online, a Volt owner even boasted that he goes to the gas station once a month. Talk about a vacation from the tank! We certainly dig that.
2012 Hyundai Elantra Limited and 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
After being a laughingstock for many years, Hyundai is winning by coming up with cars that people want. Stylish and attractive is one thing; but, being a good value, especially at the pump, has put the relative newcomer and once perennial underdog on another level. These days, people want Hyundai and for good reason.
Remember all the things you cut out to afford gas? With these selections from Hyundai, you can add them all back because that drain on your bank account has been plugged. Unless, of course, the 40 mpg that both the Elantra and the Sonata Hybrid promise on the highway, along with the 29 mpg and the 35 mpg respectively in the city, isn’t enough for you. And, if that isn’t get enough, both cars are very well-priced.
At just $22,675, the Elantra hits an especially sweet spot. And that’s not a skimping price either but includes a full AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 set-up with six speakers as well as a 90-day trial XM subscription. There are also iPod and USB jacks as well as Bluetooth to further fulfill your tech dreams. No need to worry about safety either because this baby is stacked. The brakes are tight; airbags are plentiful. As unbelievable as it sounds, you really don’t have to sacrifice anything for such a low price. For this price, you also get a power sunroof, turn signal indicators on the side mirrors, heated front and rear seats, push button start, rearview camera and a navigation system.
The Sonata Hybrid costs a little more at just under $10,000 more at $31,485 but it does sweeten the pot. In addition to great safety features, the “Ultimate Package,” which comes at this price point, includes a panoramic sunroof, navigation system with touchscreen display, rear backup camera and, the best, an Infinity premium audio system with subwoofer and amplifier plus HD radio with multicasting.
With the Elantra and the Sonata Hybrid, great gas mileage isn’t the only perk Hyundai has cooked up. And, to think, just a decade ago, they were a laughingstock. Who is laughing now?
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid
You might remember that small claims court case a California woman won earlier this year over her Honda Civic Hybrid not delivering the 50 mpg it claimed. What the news reports left out, of course, is that was the 2006 version. After driving the 2012 Civic Hybrid all over the Atlanta metro area for a week, the car was just nearing half full. Tried as I might, I just couldn’t burn enough gas to warrant a trip to the gas station. Now, the 2012 version doesn’t claim to get 50 mpg but there aren’t many people who wouldn’t take 44 mpg in the city and on the highway any day.
As was pointed out with the Volt, innovation has hiccups. The Integrated Motor Assist or IMA, as it is known, is Honda’s hybrid technology. It was first introduced in the Honda Insight in 1999. The 2003 version of the Honda Civic Hybrid was the first to use IMA. By the way, IMA is what makes the electric motor in the hybrid go, helping to deliver gas mileage while also maintaining relatively good drivability. An innovation in the 2006 version allowed IMA to power the car on electricity alone but, apparently, it didn’t work as it should and, hence, the California woman’s win.
Gas mileage might be disputable but safety has never really been a serious question with Honda and that hasn’t changed. In fact, the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid was a top pick for safety by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That’s good news for all plus parents will be happy to know that the LATCH system is as firmly intact as ever.
Now this Honda gets a tad jiggy with its leather-trimmed seats and a navigation system with voice recognition that’s actually easy to navigate (try using some of the ones on much fancier cars), not to mention steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth and the standard 90-day XM activation. Please know that these days, satellite radio is a must.
Price point, as some have pointed out, is a little high for Honda at $27,500. All things considered, though, the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid is pretty solid overall, especially for those already on Team Honda.
Follow Us on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/planetill
Become a citizen of Planet Ill. Join our Forums
Join Us on the Planet Ill Facebook Group for more discussion
Follow us on Networked Blogs