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Fuel Economy Ranks Higher Than All Other Considerations For Buyers

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On: Wed, May 30, 2012 at 9:51AM | By: Chris Weiss

Fuel Economy Ranks Higher Than All Other Considerations For Buyers

A new Consumer Reports study shows that fuel economy is a leading consideration among new car buyers. In fact, it surpasses all other considerations, leaving factors like quality, capacity and value in the dust.

Consumer Reports' survey, which is based on responses from 1700 people nationwide contacted at random, shows that 37 percent of car buyers consider fuel economy the most important factor in a new car purchase. Only 17 percent of those surveyed pick quality as the most important consideration, with 16 percent citing safety and 14 percent citing value. That's a pretty strong statement in favor of fuel economy.

Not only are car buyers looking closely at the ever-important 'mpg' figure, but they're sacrificing other specs to get it. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed say that they'd sacrifice size and cargo room to gain mpgs. Fifty-two percent are willing to scale back on amenities and comfort, and 37 percent don't mind sacrificing some performance for better fuel economy.

While fuel costs may not end up as high as originally feared, they have been on quite a tear this year. Not surprisingly, those fuel costs are the main motivator in inspiring people to look for better fuel economy. Ninety percent of respondents cite lower fuel cost as the factor driving their decision. Just over 60 percent say that the environmental benefit is a consideration, while 56 percent cite a perceived need to cut dependence on foreign oil.

Consumers may be looking for better fuel economy, but that can be quite relative. While small cars lead the pack of cars that people plan to buy (22 percent), mid-size SUVs (15 percent) are third and lead small SUVs (11 percent). So, while there's a clear need for fuel economy, not everyone is prepared to contort into a small crossover or tiny city car just yet. Small cars show growth from the 17 percent that own them now to the aforementioned 22 percent, while larger sedans show a near-opposite move from 24 percent of current owners to 18 percent of prospective buyers.

Seventy-three percent of respondents express a willingness to consider alternative powertrains like hybrids, flex fuels and electrics.

Consumer Reports says that you're better off holding onto a car that's under three years old than trading it in for something more efficient, citing research that new-car depreciation will cost more than you'll save on gas.


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