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The safest ways to get 40 mpg

Des Toups

By

CarInsurance.com

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The remarkable thing about getting 40 mpg is how safe it is.

Of the 18 models we found that hit the 40-mpg mark in either EPA city or highway tests, 15 carry the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's "Top Safety Pick" designation, a seal of approval that eventually finds its way into car insurance rates.

An IIHS Top Safety Pick earns a mark of "Good" in high-speed front and side crash tests, rollover tests, and prevention of head and neck injuries in rear crashes. It must offer electronic stability control. It's important to remember that "Good" is a relative measure -- no small and light car, however stout, will outduel something twice its size.

Yet the combination of safety and fuel economy isn't the pricey proposition it used to be. You expect, of course, that hybrid cars and diesels should make the list, and they do. (In fact, the Chevrolet Volt gets not one but two EPA ratings, because its option of electric or gasoline power makes traditional measurements pointless.)

But a number of much cheaper, gasoline-only cars have begun to hit the magic numbers.

Take a look at the IIHS safety ratings for minicars. Only two of them make our 40 mpg list. And only one, the Ford Fiesta, gets a "Top Pick" designation. Rivals such as the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris not only don't get 40 mpg, they don't make the IIHS list, either. The difference? The Fiesta is a newer design.

The same holds true in the small-car class, home to the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra: If it's new enough to have been tuned to get 40 mpg, it's been engineered to ace the crash tests as well.

There's no point in saving money at the gas pump, however, if you have to give it back to the insurance company. We compared online quotes for each car for a hypothetical young driver, a 22-year-old San Diego male with a ticket. The cheapest? The Fiesta, at $1,052 about $556 a year cheaper than a Smart ForTwo.

The chart below reflects mileage for 40-mpg models as calculated by the EPA, the least expensive annual auto insurance quote from CarInsurance.com's comparison tool, and its standing with the IIHS. The Hyundai Accent figures in the chart are for a 2011 model; a redesign is reaching showrooms now.

Model

 

 

City

 

 

Hwy

 

 

Premium

 

 

IIHS Pick?

 

 

Class

 

 

Chevrolet Cruze Eco

 

 

28

 

 

42

 

 

$1,114

 

 

Yes

 

 

Small

 

 

Chevrolet Volt

 

 

95

 

 

90

 

 

$2,282

 

 

Yes

 

 

Small

 

 

Ford Fiesta

 

29

 

40

 

$1,052

 

Yes

 

Minicars

 

Ford Focus

 

28

 

40

 

$2,082

 

Yes

 

Small

 

Ford Fusion Hybrid

 

41

 

36

 

$1,240

 

Yes

 

Midsize

 

Honda Civic Hybrid

 

44

 

44

 

$1,160

 

Yes

 

Small

 

Honda Civic HF

 

29

 

41

 

NA

 

Yes

 

Small

 

Honda Insight

 

40

 

43

 

$1,142

 

No

 

Small

 

Hyundai Accent

 

30

 

40

 

$1,154

 

No

 

Minicars

 

Hyundai Elantra

 

29

 

40

 

$1,746

 

Yes

 

Small

 

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

 

35

 

40

 

$1,186

 

Yes

 

Midsize

 

Lexus CT 200h Hybrid

 

43

 

40

 

$1,262

 

Yes

 

Small

 

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

 

41

 

36

 

$1,578

 

Yes

 

Midsize

 

Nissan Leaf

 

106

 

92

 

$1,302

 

Yes

 

Small

 

Smart ForTwo

 

33

 

41

 

$1,608

 

No

 

Microcars

 

Toyota Prius

 

51

 

48

 

$1,168

 

Yes

 

Small

 

Volkswagen Golf TDI

 

30

 

42

 

$1,542

 

Yes

 

Small

 

Volkswagen Jetta TDI

 

30

 

42

 

$1,206

 

Yes

 

Midsize

 


 



 



 

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