Survey: Drivers want better fuel economy over lower price

SAN ANTONIO – Miles per gallon matter. That’s the upshot of a new Consumer Reports survey that found fuel efficiency is still a high priority for people choosing cars, even more important than the price.

Nina Fennell keeps a close eye on her fuel costs and drives a small, gas-stingy Toyota.

“It gets darn good gas mileage,” she said.  

But most drivers want better, especially those who drive larger, thirsty vehicles. Nearly three out of four people who drive pickup trucks and large SUVs said they want their wheels to go easier on the fuel next time around. They represent the largest segment of the new car market.

Nearly nine out of 10 people, or 88%, said carmakers should improve fuel economy for all types of vehicles. 

Consumer Reports asked 1,078 adults about their priorities for their next vehicle.

“The technology to make large vehicles more fuel efficient is already out there,” said Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Reports’ auto expert. “Hopefully, these survey results sent the message to carmakers that people want size but also want to go further on fewer miles per gallon.”

However, the federal government is finalizing a proposal that would relax a rule that requires car makers to meet fuel economy targets. The administration cites the cost of the technology and subsequent higher costs of cars for consumers.

But 62% of people surveyed said they are willing to pay extra for a more fuel-efficient vehicle if they can recover the extra costs through fewer fill-ups within five years.

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