Gas prices are dropping — precious good news in otherwise dismal economic times — but automakers clearly think we’re still in for a long-haul increase. To wit: The MPG war remains afoot, and the higher the gas mileage numbers you can put up, the better. General Motors markets XFE trims, for Extra Fuel Economy, of certain cars and trucks that have been tweaked to get better mileage. Ford has the makings of a similar lineup in its SFE, or Superior Fuel Economy, badging. Even Hyundai and Kia tout drivetrain revisions that yield incremental upticks in several of their ’09 models.
The ratings are sometimes impressive, especially among commuter cars, so for this fall’s mileage challenge we put four of them to the test. GM’s Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 twins now get an estimated 25/37 mpg city/highway in high-efficiency XFE trim, which only comes with a manual transmission. The redesigned Toyota Corolla gets a close 27/35 mpg city/highway rating with an automatic; that’s a slight increase over the prior-gen automatic. A number of other contenders post impressive highway figures, too.
Balk all you want about how your kid brother’s ’87 Tercel got 35 mpg going uphill, but we’ll remind you that today’s commuters can reach 60 mph in less than 10 seconds – with side curtain airbags and habitable backseats to boot.