Sell me a fuel-efficient car, please!

OK, I can maybe understand that American car makers thought there’s not much demand for small cars, and didn’t invest in developing them.

I suppose I can also understand that some small cars available overseas aren’t designed to meet US safety requirements.

But there are many small cars that are available in the US, but only with huge gas-guzzling engines. What the hell is the deal? Just sell me the same small car, with the same small engine you sell it with in Europe! Yes, it means providing repair/service support for one more engine, but surely there’s enough sales to justify that, especially with the high fuel cost?

Case in point: I love the look of the Volvo C30, and so does my wife, which never happens. I’d buy it in a heartbeat if they’d sell the 1.6-liter diesel version in the US. But no, the only engine available is the 2.5-liter turbo.

It’s even true for the Honda Fit. Yes, the US version is pretty fuel-efficient, but the base model sold in Japan - with 1.3 liter engine and CVT - is 50% more efficient than the US configuration (according to the specs on their Japanese web site). It’s a similar story for Smart Car!

I’m completely disgusted by this trend, and turned off of all new cars available today. I guess I’ll be keeping my 25-year old car for now, it gets 30 mpg city and nothing available new today is worth replacing it with.

Sorry, but you couldn’t pay me enough to drive the Euro-model Fit (Jazz) on American roads. Just the idea of merging onto a highway full of half-asleep people doing 80 mph in a car that takes 15 seconds to get to 60…


Are European highways really better in this respect? It’s been a while since I’ve been across the pond, but I seem to recall the British motorways were narrower than most American freeways, and people drove just as fast.

Also my current car takes over 20 seconds to get up to 60, and I’ve driven it across the US. It felt perfectly safe.

And in any case, I didn’t say you should drive a Euro/Japanese spec car. I just want it available as an option, for those of us who want to drive it.

Diesels have trouble meeting emissions standards for passenger cars here in the US, ironically enough, so they’re not usually an option except in trucks that most benefit from their efficiency and torque.

That’s changing. VWs coming out with them next year (if they haven’t already), and many of the other car makers have diesels in the works.

Can you really compare the mileage numbers from the Japanese website with those for US models? Because presumably the Japanese equivalent of the EPA has a different set of tests to determine MPG ratings.

I took both numbers from the Japanese web site; both engines are available in Japan. Though to be pedantic, not the exact same combination of engine and transmission - still, the 1.5-liter engine with 5-speed stickshift is listed as 17.2 km/l, and 1.3-liter engine with automatic CVT is listed as 24 km/l.

I bought a Saturn ION last year. Getting 30 mpg and loving it.

VW has sold diesels in the US for years. I see diesels in all sorts of passenger cars all over the place. Are they really still rare in some parts of the country?

Yes. There was a period of time in the US where VW didn’t sell any diesels here. Presently, there’s only one or two models that they sell in the US that are diesels, but that’s going to be changing with next year’s models.

I got the impression from your post that you were saying that VW was just now going to start selling Diesels in the US, not that they were going to expand the line. In that case, yes, I agree with your above statement.

They sell them in Europe and Japan because fuel costs 2 to 3 times as much there as it does in the US. There isn’t really a market for that sort of thing in North America. Fuel is just too cheap.

Each different engine/transmission combo also requires a separate slate of expensive tests, which is why cars that are available with manual transmissions in the rest of the world are often only available as automatics in North America.

It works in reverse too. You can’t buy cars like the Honda Accord coupe, Mitsubishi Eclipse, or Toyota Camry Solara in the rest of the world, people in other countries have little interest in enormous gas guzzling FWD 2 door coupes that Americans love. They are made in the US specifically for obese North Americans.

Point I think the OP is making is, 20 years ago, we used to be able to get 40 mpg cars over here, and you can still find plenty of them in Europe and Asia. So when did 30 (mpg) become the new 40?

The OP is obsolete. $4 gas is history - gas prices are heading back to $2/gallon and will never go up again so we can all go back to buying gas-guzzling SUVs.

You might think you’re joking. . .

Perversely, I would be glad if Americans were less interested in fuel-efficient vehicles. I was thinking about buying a Honda Fit but didn’t want to pay a premium just because they’re suddenly popular.

Too bad the carbon footprint of a gallon of gas remains the same.

Not necessarily.

I’m not sure what the complaint here is; Jim drives a 1999 Toyota Tercel that goes for about a month on a tank of gas. My 2005 Corolla is a bit more of a guzzler; it only goes for three weeks on a tank. My 5-speed Corolla is in the seventh most fuel efficient car for its year (ahead of a hybrid). Jim’s Tercel was the most fuel efficient car of its time (plus it’s almost 10 years old and not showing any signs of being even close to dying). These are two cars that are affordable, fuel efficient, comfortable to drive, and bulletproof. There are many other cars available in North America that are smaller, cheaper, better on gas, whatever you fancy.

Awwww, man.

You almost made it.