While a burgeoning array of sophisticated gas-sipping small cars have become hot items in recent months, vehicles in all segments – including some of the most opulent rides on the road – are delivering unprecedented fuel economy. We found the number of reasonably fuel-efficient luxury cars on the market – meaning those that get 30 mpg or better in highway driving – has doubled over the last year. Searching the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy database we identified 20 separate luxury-car lines with one or more models that are rated at 30 mpg or more, compared to just 10 such vehicles for model year 2011.
“Drivers today have twice the fuel-efficient car options than just three years ago,” says Luke Tonachel, senior vehicles analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C. “As consumers look to trade in older cars over time, they will have the latest in fuel saving technology available to them, putting money back in their pockets.”
While consumer motivation is fueling the trend toward higher-mileage luxury cars to some degree – at least among affluent environmentalists who want to reduce their carbon footprints and upscale owners who just resent paying high gas prices – automakers here and in Europe have little choice but to boost their vehicles’ fuel economy. Federal regulations beginning to phase in for the 2012 model year will require car companies to boost their fleet-wide fuel economy incrementally to achieve an average 35.5 mpg by 2016. This amounts to a 40 percent increase over the previous standards. What’s more, a new set of rules that should be finalized in August will force automakers to further raise their fleet-wide fuel economy to an average of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
|English: Tesla Model S Prototype at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The just-released Tesla Model S tops our list of the most fuel-frugal luxury cars by not using any gasoline at all. Built by the Silicon Valley startup that developed the Tesla Roadster, the all-electric Model S sedan is a posh and playful ride that can seat five adults and two children, the latter via optional jump seats. The Environmental Protection Agency says it can run for as many as 300 miles on a charge with its highest-output battery pack and gets the equivalent of 90 mpg in highway driving.
|English: Fisker Karma at AutoRAI Amsterdam 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Several of the most fuel-efficient luxury cars on our list are hybrids, with Lexus accounting for three separate gas/electric-powered models, and high-mileage sedans from Lincoln and Infiniti also being represented. While fuel economy is indeed a consideration among such models, automakers in the luxury segment tend to likewise leverage the hybrid technology to boost their cars’ performance in a sort of high-tech turbocharging, without forcing owners to pay a penalty at the pump for the added thrust.
But luxury car buyers don’t necessarily have to choose a hybrid or electric-powered vehicle to get top fuel economy these days. Three out of the top 10 highest mileage luxury cars are conventionally powered, including the Audi A6 and the BMW 328i and 528i models, which are all rated just a few mpg lower than many of the hybrids on our list. In fact most of the remaining luxury cars that get 30 mpg or better on the highway pack gasoline powertrains tweaked for maximum mileage, with exceptions including the Porsche Panamera Hybrid and the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec. “Automakers are squeezing more out of vehicles with conventional gasoline engines than ever before,” says Alan Baum, principal at the automotive research firm Baum and Associates in West Bloomfield, Mich. “The internal combustion engine is far from dead; it’s just going through a major makeover. ”
A complete list of the most fuel efficient luxury cars currently available can be found here, with ratings for all makes and models further available on the EPA’s website, fueleconomy.gov.
In Pictures: 10 Most Fuel-Frugal Luxury Cars.
Taken from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2012/07/06/luxury-cars-that-get-32-mpg-or-better/
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