A surge in gas prices has forced many Americans to reconsider their driving options, doing away with fuel-thirsty models in favor of fuel efficiency.
With gas prices lurching over $4 a gallon, drivers are looking for the most cost-effective options to maximize their dollars. After two years of staying home, people want to go out: to jobs, travel, and see friends and family. This latest surge in pricing is making people as angry as they were during the gas crisis in 2008.
However, purchasing a new car is not as simple as it used to be. There aren’t as many available.
“At the end of February, there were a little more than 1 million vehicles in transit or in stock at U.S. dealerships, compared with 2.7 million in the same month last year,” according to Wards Intelligence.
Production of small cars and sedans dwindled in the year before the pandemic, as lower gas prices meant buyers were invested in large vehicles that consumed more gas. When the pandemic halted production, there were even fewer small cars than there might have been in the previous five years.
This lack of production means used cars are more popular than ever.
As the war in Ukraine continues, many people are scrambling for car options – both used and new. So let’s take a look at some fuel-efficient options that can appeal to everyone.
Best Options for Families
Boasting a uniquely Japanese aesthetic and 39 combined mpg, the 2022 Lexus UX is the best new option for active families. With pricing starting at $36,425, this mid-size car is perfect for taking the kids to school or embarking on that long-awaited family vacation.
Check out the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, a compact SUV with 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway for those searching for something used. Pricing starts at $28,500. This family-friendly vehicle offers the space everyone needs with additional room for travel gear.
Best Options for Business People
The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage is an affordable, new option best suited for business professionals. A 37 mpg combined with a rock bottom ticket price range from $14,645 to $18,695 makes this subcompact a practical and affordable vehicle.
The 2019 Nissan Versa is a stylish and inexpensive subcompact, with pricing starting at $15,175. Its combined 32 mpg makes it an ideal and straightforward selection when hunting for a used vehicle. It stands out from its sedan competitors because of its active safety features: Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Automatic Emergency Brakes (AEB).
Best Options for People on a Budget
Everyone has different financial concerns when shopping for a vehicle. These two options are the most affordable while still providing the fuel efficiency consumers need in this highly volatile time for gas prices.
The 2022 Subaru Impreza, a roomier compact that is easy to drive, has an overall mpg of 30. Pricing starts at $18,795, making it one of the more inexpensive new cars on the market today.
The used options are numerous. However, the real standout is the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq. This rival to the Prius offers 52 combined mpg. It’s a hatchback hybrid, with pricing ranging from $15,375 to $18,850.
Whatever your circumstances, buying a new or used car might be the next step as gas prices continue to soar throughout the world.
On Wednesday, President Biden called out the oil and gas companies. “Last time oil was $96 a barrel, and gas was $3.62 a gallon. Now it is $4.31,” tweeted the President. He went on to say, “Oil and gas companies shouldn’t pad their profits at the expense of hard-working Americans.”
“Every 10-cent increase in the price of gasoline costs consumers at least 11 billion over the course of a year,” according to Moody’s Analytics. They told CNN, “annual average spending on gasoline would climb by roughly $1300 per U.S. household.”
Blame shifts from oil and gas companies to individual gas stations, which often have independent ownership despite signage advertising major companies like ExxonMobil. As a result, a lag between oil prices and what you encounter at your gas station is possible, with some stations trying not to lose profits for more expensive barrels of gas already purchased.
In the meantime, waiting as long as possible before filling the tank would be the wisest short-term financial decision.
The pre-pandemic world offered low gas prices and a shift in consumer choice: large gas guzzlers became more popular. Now, more Americans are on the hunt for fuel-efficient vehicles, a move that could shift the future popularity of large SUVs.
With gas prices going down one penny at a time, consumers would be smart to seek out fuel-efficient vehicles before their hard-earned money ends up in the hands of oil companies who care more about avarice than access to fair prices. A steep increase in cost followed by a gradual lowering of prices is a process called Rockets and Feathers, and we might be in the midst of it right now.
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Justin McDevitt is a playwright and essayist from New York City. His latest play HAUNT ME had its first public reading at Theater for the New City in September. He is a contributor for RUE MORGUE where he lends a queer eye to horror cinema in his column STAB ME GENTLY.