Electric cars and hybrids aren’t the only cars that can help you pass the gas pump more often.
Auto companies are boosting miles per gallon with smaller but still powerful gasoline engines. And check out the cost: If you need better gas mileage but can’t afford a pricey hybrid, new cars with smaller, high-mpg gasoline engines often are less expensive as well.
To boost gas mileage while maintaining performance, auto companies are using a variety of technologies to update their gasoline engines:
lets a four-cylinder engine power a car like a V-6, but only when needed. When you hit the accelerator, the turbocharger forces more air into the cylinders, boosting power.
Gasoline direct injection
controls the timing and amount of fuel injected into the cylinders, facilitating gains in both power and mileage.
Variable valve timing
aids getting air in and exhaust gases out of the engine at all driving speeds.
The idle stop feature
shuts off the engine if you stop for a traffic light, then restarts it when you push the accelerator.
Popular Mechanics 2011 top ten most fuel-efficient small cars:
- 2011 Kia Rio Base Price: $12,295 MPG: 34 Hwy, 28 City, 31 Overall
- 2011 Mazda Mazda2 Base Price: $14,180 MPG: 35 Hwy, 29 City, 32 Overall
- 2011 Toyota Yaris Base Price: $12,855 MPG: 36 Hwy, 29 City, 32 Overall
- 2011 Mini Cooper Base Price: $20,100 MPG: 37 Hwy, 29 City, 32 Overall
- 2011 Hyundai Elantra Base Price: $15,550 MPG: 40 Hwy, 29 City, 33 Overall
- 2011 Ford Fiesta (SFE Pkg) Base Price: $13,320 MPG: 40 Hwy, 29 City, 33 Overall
- 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Base Price: $22,995 MPG: 42 Hwy, 30 City, 34 Overall
- 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid Base Price: $23,950 MPG: 43 Hwy, 40 City, 41 Overall
- 2011 Honda Insight Base Price: $18,200 MPG: 43 Hwy, 40 City, 41 Overall
- 2011 Toyota Prius Base Price: $22,800 MPG: 51 Hwy, 48 City, 50 Overall
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