Survey: Fuel Economy The Leading Consideration In Picking A Car

While I have an affection for cars with after-market, clumsily welded spoilers, it appears I am in the minority, as a new survey by our test-driving in-laws at Consumer Reports says that fuel economy — and not undercarriage lighting — is the leading consideration for folks looking to buy a vehicle.

According to the survey, 37% of respondents put fuel economy at the top of their list, more than double the number of people (17%) who listed “quality.” Safety considerations were a close third with 16%, followed by value (14%) and performance (6%).

“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.”

And while fewer than half the respondents put fuel economy as their primary concern, around 2/3 of them told CR they expect their next vehicle purchase will get more miles to the gallon. In addition to gas costs, being eco-friendly and reducing our dependence on foreign oil were among the top reasons for wanting a more fuel-efficient car.

73% of participants said they would at least consider buying a flex-fuel, hybrid or electric vehicle.

Though some survey participants expressed a desire to trade in their relatively new gas-guzzlers for something more fuel-efficient, CR advises that consumers do the math before rushing out to buy a new car:

When gas prices are high, it’s always tempting to rush to trade-in for a more fuel-efficient car to save at the pump. But our research has shown that you’re often better off financially to stick it out with the vehicle you have if it’s less than three years old, because a new vehicle will cost you more in depreciation than you would save on gas.

You can check out more of the report at