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Will $5 Gas Make You Switch to A Smaller Car?


2011 Chevrolet Cruze (Courtesy: GM)

2011 Chevrolet Cruze (Courtesy: GM)

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No one here predicted all the unrest in the Middle East. Now it’s spread to North Africa with a military crack-down on anti-government protesters and clashes in Bahrain and Libya. Crude oil prices per barrel are spiking and speculation is rampant that gasoline prices will spike to $4, $5, even $6 or $7 per barrel by summer’s end. It’s clear that no one has any crystal ball to accurately figure out the future.

But one thing is clear. America is too dependent on foreign oil. The question is: What are we going to do about it?

Some may recall gasoline rationing in the 1970s, when lines at the pump were long and prices were high. Many people used alternate modes of transportation to get to and from work or school. Today, if gasoline prices skyrocket, there still are buses and subways and bicycles and walking (for some lucky few who live close enough and are healthy enough to do so) to keep us moving. But the penalties are stiff. Not only will we be limited in what we can do and where we can go, but we can’t very well cart the family around on a bicycle.

Maybe we’ll be encouraged – by necessity – to switch to smaller cars. At least, that’s a reasonable option and one that doesn’t require anyone else’s approval except the potential buyer and his or her family.

Long-term, of course, we’d have to have more concrete plans to wean off dependence on foreign oil. That takes time, and in the short-term, we’ll need to be ready.

Americans are plucky and resourceful. We certainly can get this done. But, in the meantime, if gasoline prices get to and remain steady at $5-plus per gallon, the good news is that there are good choices for fuel-efficient cars in the marketplace now and coming this spring and fall that we can switch to. These include hybrids, electrics, and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles.

Here are just a few fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars to consider.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic. Photo by Joe Nuxoll

2012 Chevrolet Sonic. Photo by Joe Nuxoll

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback, the all-new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is a subcompact that is powered by a 135-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder or optional 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Chevy hints at 40 mpg for the turbocharged model and says that the subcompact Sonic will also boast the best-in-class interior room (better than Honda Fit). See more on the 2012 Sonic here.

2011 Chevrolet Cruze (Courtesy: GM)

2011 Chevrolet Cruze (Courtesy: GM)

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze

Already in the marketplace, the compact 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is Sonic’s big brother. In fact, they share the same powerplants. The Cruze Eco, equipped with the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg city/42 mpg highway, while other Cruze models achieve 36 mpg highway. Boasting the interior room of mid-size, Cruze provides outstanding standard safety features, including 10 standard airbags. Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is $16,995. See why The Car Connection editors give Cruze an 8.3 (out of 10) overall rating in this review.

2011 Ford Fiesta

2011 Ford Fiesta

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2011 Ford Fiesta

The minicompact 2011 Ford Fiesta, with seating for five, a Top Safety Pick designation by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and highway fuel economy up to 40 mpg, starts at just $13,320 MSRP. The Car Connection editors give Fiesta an 8.0 (out of 10) rating in this review.


 
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