Finances & Money

Why the hype about small cars?

I like the idea of small, fuel-efficient cars making their way to the US, especially hatchbacks, because of their versatility. However, I’m appalled that these small cars are touting their “32/38” fuel economy (such as the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa or Toyota, Yaris).

Small cars in the 80s and early 90s were able to obtain mileage in the 40s and even low 50s. Granted, they weren’t safe, and they lacked many modern amenities like power anything. However, the thing that really gets me is that our 2005 Chevrolet Malibu (base model) with a 2.2 liter Ecotec engine gets an average of 32-34 mpg with 50% open highway and 50% heavy highway traffic or local driving. Even this past week, my wife got 29 mpg on a full tank at 27mph average speed. That means alot of stop-and-go traffic, yet she still got almost 30mpg average! Oh, and our Malibu is 700 lbs heavier than a base Honda Fit.
We paid about $16,000 for our Malibu last year, which is about the going price for a new, loaded Honda Fit. However, the Malibu has more shoulder room, front and back, an enclosed trunk to prevent your cargo from smacking into your head in an accident, and most importantly, can actually be found on a dealer lot. Good luck trying to find a Honda Fit in the color and specs you want without waiting a few weeks.

So the obvious question is, why does our Chevy Malibu get the same gas mileage as a vehicle 30 inches shorter and 700 lbs lighter? Or should I ask, why doesn’t the Fit get mileage in the 40s or 50s?

So folks, think carefully about your next vehicle purchase. Don’t automatically think smaller is more efficient. It may be better built and more durable, but think about your immediate budget and needs as well. You can always go used and save even more cash!

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Clever Dude

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