Attack of the 40 MPG Cars


With gas prices hovering around $4 per gallon, many people are looking to ditch their gas guzzlers and buy more fuel efficient cars.

Nowadays, that means hybrid or electric vehicles. But those are expensive options, too rich for many people. But now affordable alternatives are hitting showrooms.

According to a report from Automotive News, many new cars that get 40 mpg on the highway are now for sale, and more are on the way. They range in price from $15,000 to $20,000 -- half the price of hybrids and electrics.

Hyundai is putting much of its hopes on its Elantra. At a Hyundai press event at the Chicago Auto Show last month, John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said that all Elantra models get 40 mpg. He pointed out that Ford and GM require buyers to buy an option package to get the 40 mpg.

Indeed, the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Fiesta and Focus are advertised to get 40 mpg. But those cars need the option package or manual transmission to achieve the lofty mileage.

Honda, Kia and Mazda will join the 40 mpg ranks later this year.

Tracy Handler, senior analyst at IHS Automotive said most automakers "can get to 40 mpg relatively cheaply. I think 40 mpg is kind of a magic mark, at least we believe it is in the industry."

It certainly was a magic number for Hyundai.

"As we realized that we had the technology to do it, then it became apparent that it was reasonable to try to hit 40 mpg," said Scott Margason, Hyundai Motor America's director of product planning. "A huge amount of work then went into the vehicle from that point on to make 40 mpg."

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