Consumer Reports: Fuel economy now the most important factor for drivers

May 22, 2012 12:00 AM

A new poll by Consumer Reports finds that fuel economy is the most important consideration for Americans buying a car - though it hasn't been in the past.

For years, many drivers ignored fuel economy in favor of features like overall power or safety. The compact and fuel-efficient cars from Europe and Japan regularly lagged behind in sales compared to pickup trucks, SUVs, and high-powered sports cars. However, the new survey shows the recession and heightened gas prices has many Americans thinking differently.

According to the survey, 37 percent ranked fuel efficiency as their highest priority, beating quality (17 percent), safety (16 percent), value (14 percent) and performance (6 percent). In addition, approximately two-thirds of respondents said they expected their next vehicle to get better fuel efficiency than their current one.

"These results make it clear that high fuel prices are continuing to impact driver behavior and influencing future purchase considerations," said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy auto editor. "While quality, safety and value are still important, this may be foreshadowing a market shift by folks seeking relief at the pump."

Those who want to improve the fuel economy on their current car should invest in vehicle maintenance. A car tune-up or properly-inflated tires can go a long way toward improving MPGs on your car, especially if these tasks haven't been performed in some times.

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