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What you need to know when shopping for a fuel-efficient car

In the interest of saving the environment and in response to consumer demand for cars that won’t kill the family gas budget, car makers are creating ever more fuel-efficient cars. Customers, in turn, have followed suit in buying them. As you’re car shopping for a fuel-efficient auto, the basic rules of car shopping apply: Do your homework, and hone your negotiation skills. Here are a few tips and hints, as well as our best-buy suggestions.

Car Shopping Woman

Automatic or stick?

Common knowledge dictates that the car with the best fuel economy has a manual transmission. That may have been true years ago, but it’s not anymore. Many automatics now get similar or better fuel
economies than their manual sisters.

fuel-miserly cars to consider

Here is a list of several fuel efficient cars to get you started in your shopping mission.

Toyota Prius

With an mpg of 48/45, the Prius may best be known for starting the hybrid trend. The hatchback makes it a little easier to parallel park due to its compact size. Owners of the Prius claim its
roominess is another way you’ll get more bang for your eco-efficient buck.

Toyota Corolla

Not to be outdone, the Toyota Corolla is fuel efficient with its small 1.8-liter engine. The Corolla’s closest competition has always been the Honda Civic (also a recommended buy), so be sure
to test drive both and let your impressions duel it out.

MINI Cooper

How cute is this car? True, you won’t be able to fit your kids, their friends and their toys as you would in a Mom-van,  the fuel-efficient MINI Cooper is a fun ride that gets you
from here to there in signature style. Plus, it’s easy on the environment and your wallet.

Honda Civic

This fuel-efficient car gets 25 city/36 highway miles to the gallon in the automatic version. Check out the over-the-top Civic GX, which runs on compressed natural gas (CNG).

The US Department of Energy’s searchable database of CNG stations

shows you where you can fill up.

a great time to buy

Jim Camp, author of NO: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home (Crown Business) reminds us that shopping for
a fuel-efficient car has the same rules as shopping for any ol’ car — rules that are particularly important in this challenging economy. “If you have cash and can pay immediately, the
chances of your getting the best possible deal goes up. If you must finance, you can still drive a good deal if you are patient and not in a hurry. Don’t be afraid to leave if they say no to
your offer — you can always come back. They will be very glad to see you the second, third and even fourth time.”

This is a great time to move forward and buy a fuel-efficient car at a terrific price. Remember: Salespeople want to unload the cars on the lot to make room for the upcoming year’s models. Jim
says, “Get rid of the idea that this is hard, because it isn’t. Build the mindset that this is fun, and go have fun with it.”

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