2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient

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Green is still a red-hot buzzword in the auto industry, with carmakers competing to showcase their commitment to fuel savings. Not every winner is a paragon of green technology, but each vehicle we spotlight is the least thirsty in its class based on annual fuel cost.


The annual fuel cost assumes 15,000 miles of combined city and highway driving each year and fuel prices of $3.10 a gallon for regular, $3.25 for premium and $3.35 for diesel. Models must make our top 25 to be eligible, and no model can win the award if another trim level of that model has won in a previous category.

Let's go for a spin:

Data comes from Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com (new vehicle data from 12/28/10, resale values from January/February 2011 Kelley Blue Book® Residual Value Guide); Vincentric (service and insurance costs); and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Top Safety Picks). Fair Purchase Price, also supplied by Kelley Blue Book, is based on actual new vehicle transactions across the country.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 2 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Under $20,000

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Honda Insight
Sticker: $18,950 (base)
Invoice: $17,934
Fair Purchase Price: NA
Five-year service cost: NA
One-year insurance cost: NA
Resale value after 3 years: NA; 5 years: NA
MPG city: 40; highway: 43



The namesake of the original hybrid gets a value trim for 2011, dropping its starting price by $1,700. In addition to being ultra-green, with a combined fuel economy of 41 miles per gallon, the compact hatch is ultra-safe -- it has standard stability and traction control and six airbags.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 3 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: $20,000-$25,000

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Toyota Prius
Sticker: $23,810 (Prius II)
Invoice: $22,427
Fair Purchase Price: $23,572
Five-year service cost: $3,454
One-year insurance cost: $1,133
Resale value after 3 years: NA; 5 years: NA
MPG city: 51; highway: 48



Our perennial Most Fuel-Efficient winner is the category’s Best in Class winner as well. Combined fuel economy is 50 miles per gallon, making the Prius number one on the EPA’s list of Top Ten Fuel Sippers. Annual fuel cost is just $937.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 4 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: $25,000-$30,000

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Lexus CT 200h
Sticker: $29,995
Invoice: NA
Fair Purchase Price: NA
Five-year service cost: NA
One-year insurance cost: NA
Resale value after 3 years: NA; 5 years: NA
MPG city: 43; highway: 40



The littlest hybrid from Lexus enters the premium compact market with more than superb fuel economy on its resume. Though it claims 43 mpg in the city, more impressive is its roster of safety equipment: eight airbags, including knee airbags for front passengers, front seats designed to avoid whiplash, a brake override system and an optional collision-warning system.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 5 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: $25,000-$30,000

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Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Sticker: $35,180
Invoice: $32,472
Fair Purchase Price: $34,476
Five-year service cost: $3,249
One-year insurance cost: $1,408
Resale value after 3 years: 45%; 5 years: 27%
MPG city: 41; highway: 36



The all-new hybrid variant of Lincoln’s MKZ wins Most Fuel-Efficient, beating closest competitor Lexus HS 250h by 6 city mpg. One reason: The MKZ Hybrid can go up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. It also wins Best New Car, has the lowest service costs in its segment and carries the same price as the gas-engine model.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 6 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Over $45,000

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Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTEC
Sticker: $51,775
Invoice: $48,212
Fair Purchase Price: $50,740
Five-year service cost: NA
One-year insurance cost: NA
Resale value after 3 years: 53%; 5 years: 32%
MPG city: 22; highway: 33



Terrific mileage for the diesel version of this luxury icon gives it an annual fuel cost of just $1,941 -- 22% cheaper than the gas-engine model. The E-class sedan won Best New Car last year, and the addition of a turbocharged diesel engine helped it clinch Best in Class for 2011.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 7 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Sports

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Hyundai Genesis 2.0T
Sticker: $23,050 (manual)
Invoice: $21,966
Fair Purchase Price: $23,050
Five-year service cost: $4,806
One-year insurance cost: $1,131
Resale value after 3 years: 53%; 5 years: 32%
MPG city: 21; highway: 30



Winning fuel-sipper status for the second year in a row, Hyundai’s Genesis coupe boasts a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that gets 30 mpg on the highway and takes regular gasoline -- a rarity in this category. Annual fuel cost: $1,915.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 8 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Small Crossovers

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Ford Escape Hybrid
Sticker: $30,175 (base)
Invoice: $28,606
Fair Purchase Price: $29,794
Five-year service cost: $3,460
One-year insurance cost: $1,109
Resale value after 3 years: 45%; 5 years: 31%
MPG city: 34; highway: 31



The only remaining hybrid in the small crossover segment, Ford Escape Hybrid offers loads of utility with an environmentally friendly flair. It offers nearly 30% better combined fuel economy than the base gas-engine model (32 mpg versus 25). Moderate service costs and insurance premiums keep a lid on ownership costs.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 9 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Large and Midsize Crossovers

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Lexus RX 450h
Sticker: $44,110
Invoice: $40,218
Fair Purchase Price: $44,110
Five-year service cost: $4,126
One-year insurance cost: $1,655
Resale value after 3 years: 63%; 5 years: 42%
MPG city: 32; highway: 28



With an annual fuel cost of $1,621, the RX hybrid bests even the greenest competition in this category (another Toyota family member, the Highlander Hybrid). Despite its fuel economy, it’s no slouch on power—it generates 295 horsepower.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 10 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Truck-based SUVs

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Cadillac Escalade Hybrid (TIE)
Sticker: $74,790 (base)
Invoice: $69,990
Fair Purchase Price: $72,546
Five-year service cost: $3,421
One-year insurance cost: $2,504
Resale value after 3 years: 46%; 5 years: 29%
MPG city: 20; highway: 23



Perhaps the blingy-est green vehicle on the road, Caddy’s big ute hybrid has combined city/highway mileage of 21 mpg (a considerable improvement from the gas-engine’s 16 mpg combined). Green credentials come at a high price, though: nearly 75 grand.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 11 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Truck-based SUVs

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Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid (TIE)
Sticker: $51,685 (base)
Invoice: $48,895
Fair Purchase Price: $50,651
Five-year service cost: $3,612
One-year insurance cost: $1,918
Resale value after 3 years: 47%; 5 years: 30%
MPG city: 20; highway: 23



With many of the same underpinnings as the Escalade, Chevrolet’s hybrid Tahoe ties the Cadillac for Most Fuel-Efficient but offers a sticker price that’s $23,000 less. Despite its status as a big people-mover, it has reasonable service costs and respectable fuel economy (combined mileage of 21 mpg).
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 12 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Truck-based SUVs

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GMC Yukon Hybrid (TIE)
Sticker: $52,150 (base)
Invoice: $49,334
Fair Purchase Price: $51,107
Five-year service cost: $3,623
One-year insurance cost: $1,919
Resale value after 3 years: 47%; 5 years: 31%
MPG city: 20; highway: 23



GMC’s Yukon hybrid is more or less the twin of the Chevy Tahoe, with a few badging and interior differences. Annual fuel cost is $2,189 ($512 less than the gas-engine model). All of GM’s big-SUV hybrids can seat seven or eight, depending on whether you get a second-row bench or captain’s chairs.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 13 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Minivans

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Honda Odyssey
Sticker: $28,580 (LX)
Invoice: $25,976
Fair Purchase Price: $28,580
Five-year service cost: $3,995
One-year insurance cost: $960
Resale value after 3 years: 54%;5 years: 34%
MPG city: 18; highway: 27



Category sweeper Odyssey LX improves highway mileage over last year’s model by 17% (with a five-speed transmission). Step up to the Touring model ($41,535) and you get a standard six-speed transmission that boosts combined mileage by another mile per gallon, to 22 mpg. New across the Odyssey lineup for 2011: a wider stance that ups interior space -- the second row can be expanded horizontally to give more seating room or create a pass-through for cargo.
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2011 Best New Car Values: Most Fuel-Efficient | Slide 14 of 14

Most Fuel-Efficient: Wagons

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Audi A3 2.0 TDI
Sticker: $31,125 (Premium)
Invoice: $29,009
Fair Purchase Price: $30,658
Five-year service cost: $5,075
One-year insurance cost: $1,176
Resale value after 3 years: 56%; 5 years: 33%
MPG city: 30; highway: 42



The diesel-powered A3 picks up a Most Fuel-Efficient plaudit again, with an annual fuel cost of $1,460. It also has high resale values and low insurance costs, and it’s one of only three wagons (Subaru Outback and Jetta SportWagen are the others) rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
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