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Fuel-Efficient Car Options

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Many 2013 model cars can save you money at the pump

When gas prices rise, many of us take a closer look at the fuel efficiency — or lack thereof — of our vehicles. "Just how much gas money would I save," we ask ourselves, "if I bought a newer, more fuel-efficient car, truck, minivan or utility vehicle? Moreover, how can I find the most fuel efficient vehicle in my price range?"

Luckily, a number of automobile and consumer review publications and websites monitor the offerings of all vehicles across the automobile brand spectrum for both cost and fuel efficiency. So take a look below at this (incomplete) list, organized from least expensive to most expensive — you just might find a car that suits your needs.

Ford Fiesta

Kelley Blue Book characterizes the Fiesta as "the first American in the sub-compact segment that can actually run in the same circles as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa. If you're looking for a fuel-efficient small car, but you don't want to sacrifice the interior quality or modern features usually only found on larger, more expensive cars, the 2012 Ford Fiesta sub-compact is an easy choice."

The 2013 Fiesta (MSRP $13,200) registers an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. And as far as those modern features go, Kelley Blue Book notes the Fiesta's "wild interior and exterior colors, a version of Ford's SYNC audio and communications system, electronic stability control, remote engine start and a dual-clutch automatic transmission."

Hyundai Accent

Back in 2011, the website TheDailyGreen.com ranked the Hyundai Accent at the top of its "Most Affordable New Fuel Efficient Cars" list, and the Accent continues to rank high in the fuel-efficiency department and low in the pricing department. Says Kelley Blue Book, "If your limited budget has you thinking ‘used car,' you might be pleasantly surprised at just how much new car the 2013 Hyundai Accent can get you for around $15,000."

With an MSRP of $14,545 and an EPA-estimated 30 city mpg and 40 highway mpg, Kelley Blue Book says you'll be getting an affordable car with great gas mileage that doesn't sacrifice performance.

"The Accent's fuel-sipping engine isn't shy when it comes to delivering power … and it does so without much fuss or commotion," writes Kelley Blue Book. "While we found little to like about the Accent's rubbery feeling manual transmission, its six-speed automatic quickly won us over, delivering smooth and precise shifts and excellent fuel economy."

Toyota Prius

Stepping into the hybrid market and moving into the $20,000 range we find the Toyota Prius, with an MSRP of $24,000 and an estimated mpg of 51 in the city and 48 on the highway.

The Prius, says Edmunds.com, enjoys the greatest brand awareness of all the hybrids, and it backs that up with a solid product. Speaking of the 2012 model, the website declared, "The 2012 Toyota Prius is to hybrids what Kleenex is to tissues. Other brands may offer something similar, but the Prius is what people think of when they think hybrid."

And, writes Edmunds, the Prius delivers "superior fuel economy; abundant backseat room; spacious cargo area; comfortable ride; available high-tech luxury goodies; strong safety scores."

Lexus CT 200h

With the highest combined fuel economy in the luxury market, the Lexus CT 200h is another hybrid available to buyers in 2013, and it comes from the Toyota family.

"The CT 200h is the smallest Lexus hybrid, and the first dedicated hybrid in the Lexus range," explains GreenCarReports.com. "To the untrained eye it looks like any other Lexus, but beneath the skin is running gear from the all-conquering Toyota Prius, so efficiency is built-in. That means you still get a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle engine twinned with an electric motor, for a total system output of 134-horsepower."

The CT 200h, coming in with an MSRP of $31,850, gives drivers 43 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

Nissan Leaf

Lauded by critics and customers for its performance and fuel economy, past versions of the Leaf faced criticism for their price tags, but Nissan has made it more affordable by reducing the production cost of the Leaf's battery pack.

"The Nissan Leaf is the first fully electric car that can be purchased outright, seat five people and have enough cargo space for a shopping trip. The Leaf is a real car you can buy right now, and thanks to a hefty government tax credit, it won't cost that much to do so," according to Edmunds.

The Leaf starts at $35,200, but, according to Nissan, the final price tag after tax incentives can be as low as $27,700. What's more, the estimated MPG-e is an impressive 106, so owners should see savings after the purchase as well.

These are just a few of the fuel-efficient vehicles available today. They might be a good long-term investment in fuel cost savings.

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