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Precious Cargo: The Most Cost-Effective Cars To Hit The Road In 2005:

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Whether you’re (just) embarking on wedded bliss, or you’ve working on buying a house and/or starting a family, one way thing you’ve probably come to quickly realize is that the “game of life” can add up, and nothing (these days) in inexpensive, especially gas prices. While you may not want to compromise on eating (cooking), or keeping your family warm during the upcoming winter, you may be able to drive the cost of gas down, by being conscious about what you’re driving.

According to industry experts, the new technology and smaller vehicles (including hybrids) are your best options for sitting pretty (at least economically).

According to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which publishes fuel economy estimates for most new passenger cars sold within the United States, the three highest ranking cars for 2005 featured gas-electric hybrid models, including the Honda Insight (still at the top of its class), the Toyota Prius, and Honda’s newest gas-electric model, the Civic Hybrid.

The Honda Insight featuring a manual transmission rated highest with an approximate 61 miles per gallon (city driving) and 66 miles per gallon (highway). The vehicle offer a 1.0-liter 67 horsepower, 3-cylinder gas engine attached to an electric motor offering torque and additional power. The 5-speed manual transmission is standard, but a continuously variable transmission is also available. It offers fuel economy of 57/56 miles per gallon respectively and seats two.

The Toyota Prius is a five seater, restructured as a midsize sedan (2004) and offers 60 miles per gallon (city) and 51 miles per gallon (highway). The Prius has a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 76 horsepower and an electric motor. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard, but a manual transmission is also available.

The Honda Civic Hybrid (2005) received accolades on its delivery of 48 miles per gallon (city) and 47 miles per gallon highway and its 1.3-liter, 85 horsepower, 4-cylinder gas engine combined with an electric motor. Most models offer a continuously variable transmission as standard, but manuals are also available.

Professionals point out that with the initial success of hybrids, the market can only expect to see more such models hitting the streets and highways, including Toyota’s Highlander hybrid and the Lexus Rx 400h.

These sport utility vehicles join Ford’s Escape Hybrid which hit the market in 200 4 and which has been noted as the most economical SUV. It offers two wheel drive and 36/31 miles to the gallon respectively. It features a 2.3-liter, 133 horsepower, 4-cylinder engine adjoined to a 94 horsepower electric motor. This economical SUV is only available in a continuously variable transmission, but can be ordered in 4-wheel drive (as well), though it’s economic efficiency declines significantly to 33/39 mpg.

Other cost-effective cars noted for showing off their street smarts included those that featured more traditional engines and power plants. Among these 4 Volkswagens, fueled by a 1.9-liter, 4-cyliner turbodiesel engine and a 5-speed manual transmission. The new 2005 Beetle, Jetta, and Golf also received high marks rating an average of 38 mpg (city) and 46 mpg (highway).

Other vehicles that received recognition for being practical and economical included the Jetta Wagon, featuring a 1.9-liter, 4-cylinder tubodiesel engine and a 5-speed transmission and receiving 36 mpg in the city and about 47mpg on the highway; and the Honda Civic HX Coupe, which got the best rating for a gasoline only model for 2005. This frugal vehicle offers a 5-speed transmission and a 1.7-liter, 117 horsepower, 4-cyliner engine with VTEC-E Burn and gets about 36/44 miles to the gallon.

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