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The safest ways to get 40 mpg

Size still matters in a car crash, but an increasing number of fuel-sipping models are earning top marks for safety as well.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 9, 2011 2:02PM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site


The remarkable thing about getting 40 mpg is how safe it is.


Of the 18 models we found that hit the 40 mpg mark in either EPA city or highway tests, 15 carry the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's "Top Safety Pick" designation, a seal of approval that eventually finds its way into car insurance rates.


An IIHS Top Safety Pick earns a mark of "Good" in high-speed front and side crash tests, rollover tests, and prevention of head and neck injuries in rear crashes. It must offer electronic stability control. It's important to remember that "Good" is a relative measure -- no small and light car, however stout, will outduel something twice its size.


Yet the combination of safety and fuel economy isn't the pricey proposition it used to be.


You expect, of course, that hybrid cars and diesels should make the list, and they do. (In fact, the Chevrolet Volt gets not one but two EPA ratings, because its option of electric or gasoline power makes traditional measurements pointless.)


But a number of much cheaper, gasoline-only cars have begun to hit the magic numbers.


Take a look at the IIHS safety ratings for minicars. Only two of them make our 40 mpg list. And only one, the Ford Fiesta, gets a Top Pick designation. Rivals such as the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris not only don't get 40 mpg, they don't make the IIHS list, either. The difference? The Fiesta is a newer design. Post continues after video.

The same holds true in the small-car class, home to the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra: If it's new enough to have been tuned to get 40 mpg, it's been engineered to ace the crash tests as well.


There's no point in saving money at the gas pump, however, if you have to give it back to the insurance company. We compared online quotes for each car for a hypothetical young driver, a 22-year-old San Diego male with a ticket. The cheapest? The Fiesta, at $1,052 about $556 a year cheaper than a Smart ForTwo.


The chart below reflects mileage for 40 mpg models as calculated by the EPA, the least expensive annual auto insurance quote from's comparison tool, and its standing with the IIHS. The Hyundai Accent figures in the chart are for a 2011 model; a redesign is reaching showrooms now.


ModelCityHwyPremiumIIHS Pick?Class
Chevrolet Cruze Eco2842$1,114 YesSmall
Chevrolet Volt9590$2,282 YesSmall
Ford Fiesta2940$1,052 YesMinicars
Ford Focus2840$2,082 YesSmall
Ford Fusion Hybrid4136$1,240 YesMidsize
Honda Civic Hybrid4444$1,160 YesSmall
Honda Civic HF2941NAYesSmall
Honda Insight4043$1,142 NoSmall
Hyundai Accent3040$1,154 NoMinicars
Hyundai Elantra2940$1,746 YesSmall
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid3540$1,186 YesMidsize
Lexus CT 200h Hybrid4340$1,262 YesSmall
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid4136$1,578 YesMidsize
Nissan Leaf10692$1,302 YesSmall
Smart ForTwo3341$1,608 NoMicrocars
Toyota Prius5148$1,168 YesSmall
Volkswagen Golf TDI3042$1,542 YesSmall
Volkswagen Jetta TDI3042$1,206 YesMidsize


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Jun 9, 2011 7:43PM

In 1984 toyota offered a camery with a diesel engine that got 59 mpg highway.It probably

didnt have much power,and some people dont like the smell of diesel,so they didnt sell

very well.With todays tecnology that engine would get even more mpg and have plenty of



Jun 14, 2011 1:34PM
I don't understand where those insurance quotes came from ... WOW !!! Time to call Flo or the Gecko, someone's getting ripped off.
Jun 10, 2011 11:45AM


In the UK fuel is measured in imperial gallons.  An imperial gallon is 1.2 of a US gallon.  Hence the better miles per gallon.  50 miles per imperial gallon would equal 42 miles per US gallon.  This is the main reason "why".


Jun 9, 2011 7:08PM
40 mpg??  Easy,...put big tires in the back, and small tires up front.  That way you're always going downhill !! Party
Jun 9, 2011 8:45PM
Why is it that the cars in UK (usually diesel) get 50 plus miles to the gallon?  My daughter drives a Renault Meganne diesel and averages 58 mpg and it has plenty of go.  It needs it, the drivers over there drive fast.
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