With high gas prices, Consumer Reports has released its latest compilation of fuel efficient (and least efficient) cars as well as six tips to saving gas before and after hitting the road.
Before you leave:
Check your tires. Underinflated tires require more energy to roll along, which eats up more fuel. Make sure your tires’ air pressure is set to the automaker’s recommended level (see the owner’s manual, not the maximum pressure printed on the tires’ side.
Get the right rental. If you plan on renting a car, try to reserve one with good gas mileage. For about the same rate, for example, you could get a 26-mpg Nissan Altima instead of a 20-mpg Chevrolet Impala. Or you could get a 32-mpg Toyota Corolla instead of a 24-mpg Chevy Cobalt.
On the road:
Watch your speed. The faster you drive on the highway, the worse your gas mileage will be. CR’s tested Toyota Camry dropped 5 mpg when testers increased cruising speed from 55 mpg to 65. Driving at 75 mph cut it by an additional 5 mpg.
Drive smoothly. Avoid hard acceleration and braking when possible. In the Camry, frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced fuel economy by 2 to 3 mpg.
Don’t be a drag. Don’t add to your car’s aerodynamic drag by carrying things on top of the roof if you don’t have to. When CR’s testers installed a large car-top carrier on the Camry, gas mileage dropped by a notable 6 mpg when driving at 65 mph.
Skip the gas-saving gadgets. After testing several devices that claimed to improve fuel efficiency, CR’s testers have yet to find one that provides a significant difference in gas mileage or acceleration.
Article Last Updated: June 8, 2011.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.