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12 Born-In-The-U.S.A. Fuel Sippers Page 3

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The 2009 Dodge Caliber might look good on screen, or even at a few paces back, but it somehow fails to have much allure up close. That's a shame, as the Caliber has a lot going for it, with a very roomy interior, folding back-seat cargo versatility, and innovative features—like tailgate speakers and a cooler box—that you won't find in other small cars. Once you get behind the wheel it's hard not to be disappointed though with the cheap, plasticky interior, buzzy engine, and abnormally sluggish CVT. Anyway, to be the most patriotic (and fuel-efficient), you'll want the manual transmission; the CVT is sourced from Mexico.


2009 Jeep Patriot

2009 Jeep Patriot

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Jeep Patriot

EPA combined fuel economy: 25
Assembly: Belvidere, IL
Overall Rating: 7.4
Bottom Line: "The 2009 Jeep Patriot offers a safe, city-friendly package for a bargain price; if the most off-roading you'll be doing is to the weekend campsite, it's a good frugal choice."

Don't let the Jeep name scare you; the often-overlooked Patriot is based on the Caliber, reasonably good on gas, and all car underneath. And its shape allows an incredibly roomy interior. With the available Freedom Drive II system the Patriot has a low range and actually gets enough toughness for conquering muddy inclines or deep snow, or even for occasional boulder-crawling. Now that Subaru has upsized its Forester, the Patriot really is in a class of its own and the best of Chrysler's Belvidere trio.


2009 Jeep Compass Sport

2009 Jeep Compass Sport

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Jeep Compass

EPA combined fuel economy: 25
Assembly: Belvidere, IL
Overall Rating: 6.6
Bottom Line: "The Jeep Compass steers the brand toward a new on-road audience but falls short, pleasing neither off-roaders nor drivers who never hit the trails."

As the Bottom Line above hints, TheCarConnection.com's editors aren't Compass fans and can't see much of a point to the vehicle. Trademark Jeep grille aside, its styling is somewhat anonymous; squint and you'll see a less attractive version of the Caliber, or a more compromised alternative to the Patriot. The 2009 Jeep Compass' performance is unremarkable, like the Caliber, and the interior feels cheap. Fuel economy figures are good but not great—23 mpg city, 28 highway at the best, with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and five-speed manual gearbox.


2009 Tesla Roadster

2009 Tesla Roadster

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Tesla Roadster

EPA combined fuel economy: Over 100 mpg, gasoline-equivalent
Assembly: Menlo Park, CA
Overall Rating: 7.4
Bottom Line: "The 2009 Tesla Roadster delivers jaw-dropping green performance and handling in a classic open two-seater, but the aggressive driving it encourages may cut range to less than 200 miles."

Chances are you've heard of the Tesla Roadster, but you probably didn't think of it as a fuel-efficient American car. It's complicated; Tesla's complete running chassis is assembled in England, and other significant parts are sourced from overseas, but final assembly is in Silicon Valley. In a drive of the $109,000 Roadster, TheCarConnection.com criticized its primitive amenities and lack of storage space in the cockpit but found its handling excellent and its smooth rush of power intoxicating. And the idea of having a 200-mile range between charges, combined with the acceleration of an exotic, somehow feels very patriotic.


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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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