Buying a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

 
Buying a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

Fuel consumption can vary widely from one vehicle to the next. Whether you're buying new or used, the choices you make today will either save you money (through reduced fuel consumption) or cost you money for years to come.
How big is big enough? It's always a good idea to avoid buying more vehicle than you need. Larger vehicles tend to be heavier and have bigger and more powerful engines, so consider buying the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your everyday needs.
If you're buying a new vehicle, check the EnerGuide label for its fuel consumption rating. EnerGuide labels are now affixed to all new light-duty vehicles sold in Canada.
Fuel consumption ratings for all new cars, light-duty trucks and vans sold in Canada are also available in the free Fuel Consumption Guide. You can download a PDF version of the Guide, or call 1800387-2000 to order your free copy. Past editions are available, so you can also check fuel consumption ratings for used vehicles.
Have a look at the list of the most recent winners of the EnerGuide Awards, presented each model year to the manufacturers of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in different classes C two-seater, subcompact, compact, mid-sized and large cars, as well as station wagons, vans, pickup trucks and special purpose vehicles.
Your choice of transmission will directly affect the cost of the vehicle and its fuel consumption. As a general rule, a manual transmission is more fuel efficient than an automatic, assuming you shift properly. If you buy an automatic, the more gears, the better.
Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive offer superior traction and braking under slippery conditions, but the weight and friction of additional drivetrain parts can increase fuel consumption by 5 to 10percent compared with two-wheel drive vehicles. How often would you need to use this option, and is it worth the extra fuel cost for as long as you own the vehicle?
Under normal driving conditions, smaller engines deliver better fuel economy than larger engines. Choose the smallest engine that meets your everyday needs.
Are you willing to pay a fuel penalty for as long as you own your vehicle just to have the convenience of options such as power windows, seats and mirrors? Many options increase fuel consumption by adding weight, increasing aerodynamic drag, or drawing extra power from the engine.
Do you really need an air conditioner? Operating an air conditioner in hot weather can increase fuel consumption by more than 20percent in city driving. Consider using the car's ventilation system and options such as a sunroof and tinted glass.
For most drivers, cruise control saves fuel on the highway by keeping your speed constant and avoiding inadvertent speeding.
Explore your fuel options. Will a fuel-efficient diesel vehicle meet your needs? What about propane or natural gas, which produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and are cheaper to use than gasoline or diesel fuel? Ethanol fuel blends are also widely used by Canadian motorists. And hybrid vehicles, which use a combination of high-power batteries and an internal combustion engine, are beginning to appear on the North American market.