Consumer Reports: Fuel Economy Trumps Safety in New Car Shopping

More than a third of Americans surveyed said fuel economy is the primary factor in shopping for their next vehicle, even trumping quality (17 percent) and safety (16 percent), according to Consumer Reports.
Nearly two-thirds of current owners surveyed said they expected their next vehicle to register better fuel mileage than the one they’re driving now.
While gasoline costs (90 percent) were the number one reason cited for wanting a more fuel-efficient vehicle, more than half of respondents also had other reasons, including a desire to be more environmentally friendly (62 percent) and concern about dependence on foreign oil (56 percent).
To a much greater extent, women said they were motivated by the environmental benefit of better fuel economy – 65 percent vs. 58 percent of men. Women were also more concerned about dependence on foreign oil (63 percent vs. 49 percent of men), and affected by changes on the home front (38 percent vs. 31 percent).
“These results make it clear that high fuel prices are continuing to impact driver behavior and influencing future purchase considerations,” said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy auto editor.  “While quality, safety and value are still important, this may be foreshadowing a market shift by folks seeking relief at the pump.”
Some 90 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “Auto manufacturers should offer a greater variety of cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles in the near future.”
The federal government is expected to finalize new fuel efficiency standards later this year that would require manufacturers’ average fuel economy to reach 54.5 miles-per-gallon by 2025.
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