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12 Born-In-The-U.S.A. Fuel Sippers

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Badge on 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

Badge on 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

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Want American-made and fuel-efficient? A small car, too? You don't have many choices.

Shoppers are valuing fuel efficiency more than before, especially now that they might be able to take advantage of a $4,500 Cash-for-Clunkers incentive. While there are plenty of stars-and-stripes-waving larger vehicles, the list of smaller, frugal American-made cars is very limited.

And at a time when you're likely wondering how you can do your part to support the economy—whether locally or nationally—chances are the dealership salesperson will be of little help to some nagging shopping questions like "Where is this car built?"

Luckily, you'll find answers to those questions—along with the origin of the engine and transmission—on the window sticker. But beware, there are plenty of surprises.

The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is one car we would have loved to put on the list; it's one of our highest-scoring cars, at an 8.8 overall, and its fuel economy is an impressive 41 mpg city, 36 highway. To the point of this list, the Fusion Hybrid is assembled in Mexico. But buying one isn't entirely unpatriotic; even if you won't support your local economy by buying a Fusion, you do support a U.S.-based company and its national impact.

Then there are other U.S.-brand, foreign-made vehicles that we didn't feel the least bit bad not including on our list; for example, the Chevrolet Aveo is made in South Korea, using mostly foreign parts as well, and it's never been competitive against rival models like the 2009 Honda Fit or Nissan Versa.

In response to multiple car shoppers who asked for recent advice about which small, high-mileage vehicles are American-built—and with surprises like those we've mentioned in mind—TheCarConnection.com has put together this list. The simple requirements? A compact vehicle with 25-mpg EPA Combined figure and final assembly in the U.S.  Several mid-size sedans, including the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and new 2010 Subaru Legacy also achieve that figure, and we intend to cover them in a follow-up feature.

Those requirements narrowed the list down to just 12 compact contenders. To keep you from having to wade through lots of cars and window stickers, and save you from a lot of blank stares from salesman, here are TheCarConnection.com's Born-In-The-U.S.A. Fuel Sippers:


The trip from Detroit to Washington DC is expected to take Alan Mulally about nine hours

The trip from Detroit to Washington DC is expected to take Alan Mulally about nine hours

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Ford Escape Hybrid

EPA combined fuel economy: 32
Assembly: Kansas City, MO; UAW
Overall Rating: 7.4
Bottom Line: "Though it looks decidedly old-school, the Ford Escape is a solid and stylish five-passenger, compact SUV that has been kept up-to-date."

The Escape Hybrid has become an iconic vehicle in patriotic, petro-independence circles; politicians love it because it's a high-mpg SUV that looks all-American yet not too huge or over-the-top. A full hybrid system allows electric-only operation at low speed and an astounding City fuel economy figure of 34 mpg for front-wheel-drive versions.


2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Mercury Mariner Hybrid

EPA combined fuel economy: 32
Assembly: Kansas City, MO; UAW
Overall Rating: 7.4
Bottom Line: "The 2009 Mercury Mariner is an attractive and capable compact SUV, now with vastly improved performance."

Virtually identical to the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Mariner Hybrid has a sleeker 'waterfall' grille design, along with satin-finish trims inside. Between the two, it's all up to those small aesthetic details, but TheCarConnection.com's editors point out that you might also find a more satisfying, attentive dealership experience at Lincoln-Mercury stores.


2009 Chevrolet Cobalt

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt

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Chevrolet Cobalt XFE

EPA combined fuel economy: 30
Assembly: Lordstown, OH; UAW
Overall Rating: 6.8
Bottom Line: "The price is right for the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt, yet most of its competitors offer a better overall value."

The Cobalt is a rental-car favorite, and it's easy to see why. It's quite roomy, has a comfortable ride, is reasonably reliable, and starts at a sticker price of less than $16,000. GM managed to raise fuel economy to 25 mpg city, 37 highway for 2009 as well—first through a special XFE model. But TheCarConnection.com points out that the Cobalt's interior feels drab and its driving experience is unremarkable, and Consumer Reports has reported that the Cobalt has one of the lowest rates of satisfaction of any small car. Chevy's future in this segment looks brighter after 2010; the Cobalt is set to be replaced by an all-new 2011 Chevrolet Cruze that will still be built in Ohio.


2009 Pontiac G5

2009 Pontiac G5

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Pontiac G5 XFE


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Comments (6)
  1. How pathetic. Thie article more than anything sums up why the US car companies are failing.
     
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  2. How many G5s can there be left?
     
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  3. kiss those $50B goodbye. If they continue to produce such poor cars our tax paying $$ are gone
     
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  4. Jeep.... just to think that 40 years ago this was THE brand for off-road. Sad - but I do like their new Jeep Compass overall a good SUV with a very low price.
     
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  5. Bengt, like this story a lot. Straight to the point point regarding fuel economy AND where cars are made. All I can conclude is WOW, the US car manufacturers have a heck of a long way to go.
     
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  6. The Mercury Mariner is the best in styling and interior-we bought one and love it. As far as the Tesla, if you have $109,000 to spend on a car, why would you care about how much gas it uses-unless you are a super rich environmentalist and need to travel between several homes.
     
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