Consumer Reports judges fuel-efficient cars

Gas prices are up 35 percent from a year ago and that has people seeing red. Consumer Reports says there are a growing number of cars that can bring you relief at the pump.

The Prius is the clear gas-saving leader, delivering 44 miles per gallon in tests. It costs anywhere from about $22,000 to $30,000.

The Hyundai Elantra isn't a hybrid, but Consumer Reports tests show that compact car gets an impressive 29 miles per gallon. And at about $18,000 it's a bargain compared to most vehicles.

"If you want a larger car like a family sedan, there are still some great gas-saving options," said Tom Mutchler from Consumer Reports.

Starting at $20,000, the Nissan Altima gets 26 miles per gallon and is roomy enough to fit five comfortably.

But what if you need an even bigger vehicle? The Toyota Highlander Hybrid tops SUVs, getting 27 miles per gallon, but its sticker price is steep at almost $50,000.

"Another great choice is a Subaru Outback. It's more of station wagon than an SUV, but it gets 24 miles per gallon, has all-wheel drive and a really roomy back seat," said Mutchler.

And at about $22,000, the Subaru Outback is much more reasonably priced than the Highlander.

If you have your heart set on an SUV, but you want better mileage, Consumer Reports says the Ford Escape Hybrid is another good option, delivering 26 miles per gallon.

You can find Consumer Reports' tips for improving your fuel economy, as well as the DMVs tips on choosing clean cars at the link above.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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