Four Fuel-Sipping Vehicles Coming Soon to the U.S.

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Future Fuel-Saving Cars

For fans of green cars, or those simply looking for a fuel-efficient vehicle so they can save a little at the pump, these are exciting times; between alternative fuels, engine management advancements and hybrid/electric technology, there are many options for both manufacturers and consumers to explore.

There is a wave of fuel-saving vehicles ready to hit showroom floors that offer new levels of efficiency, practicality, and fun. For those in the market for a vehicle with great mileage, look for these cars in the near future:

2011 Chevrolet Volt

There are few vehicles that have received as much pre-launch hype and anticipation as the Chevy Volt, and rightfully so; the Volt promises to be groundbreaking in terms of fuel mileage and technology.

Technically, the Volt is an electric car, but with a twist; once the advanced Lithium-Ion battery pack runs out of power at the end of its 40-mile range, an onboard 1.4L motor kicks on to recharge the batteries, extending the range to almost 400 miles, according to Chevrolet. The Volt’s batteries can also be recharged from an electrical outlet, further reducing the need to refuel.

The Volt’s unique configuration has made it difficult for the EPA to pin down a realistic fuel mileage rating. According to a September 2008 article on Motor Trend magazine’s website by Mike Connor, the Volt averages 100 mpg in the City loop with a fully charged battery, but that number falls to 48 mpg when taking into consideration the fuel needed to recharge the battery after the test. One way or the other, the fuel mileage should be great, and the all-electric operation means drivers with a short commute may almost never need a gas station.

With upscale styling, batteries that should last 150,000 miles and a $40,000 price tag, the Volt should be popular when it finally arrives. The launch has been pushed back several times, but Chevy is now saying on their Volt website to expect the Volt sometime in 2010 as a 2011 model.

2011 Ford Fiesta

With all the talk of electric, hybrid and alternative fuel cars, it is easy to forget that fuel-efficient gasoline cars are still a step in the right direction for manufacturers, and Ford is about to take a big leap with the 2011 Fiesta – proving that a small gasoline car can be fuel-efficient, high-quality and fun.

Thanks to a heavy dose of dynamics and a tinge of styling inspiration from corporate partner Mazda, the Fiesta features crisp European styling, quality interior materials, and according to reports – a driving experience that belies its price tag, which should be in the mid to upper teens.

Ford’s website features a sharp 4-door Fiesta sedan along with a 5-door hatchback (but no mention of the sporty 3-door hatchback sold in Europe) powered by a 1.6L 4-cylinder motor that makes what should be a peppy 118 hp and turn in somewhere around 40 mpg.

Ford’s Fiesta website says that the Fiesta should hit dealerships “early 2010” as a 2011 model.

2011 FIAT 500

The FIAT 500 has been a wild success in Europe – there is actually a waiting list to get one – and although there has been no official announcement, according to a June 4, 2009 report by Kevin Krolicki ar Reuters.com, FIAT CEO Sergio Marchionne has already started preparing the 500 for a U.S. release by late 2010.

The easiest way to describe the FIAT 500 is by calling it an “Italian MINI”. It is about the same size as a Mini, and features retro-cool styling that has more than a passing resemblance to the iconic car from the 60’s and 70’s that is its namesake. The 500 was even designed by the same person who penned the MINI.

In addition to its diminutive size, the FIAT 500 also has diminutive motors in Europe, as small as 1.2L. That probably will not be suitable for the U.S. market, though. More likely is the 1.4L engine that is an option on the European car, but the good news is that the 94hp power plant should turn in fuel mileage in the mid to upper 30’s, similar to the base Mini.

Again, no official announcement has been made, but now that FIAT has access to Chrysler’s manufacturing and distribution network, an Americanized version of the 500 could show up as early as late 2010 as a 2011 model, and likely priced a few thousand less than the BMW-built MINI.

2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI

American drivers have not been terribly receptive to diesel vehicles over the years, but there will be a lot of converts to the oil-burning contingent once the Golf TDI hits showrooms for 2010.

After a three year absence, the Golf (VW is changing the name back from Rabbit for 2010) will once again have a diesel power plant, and one that is far superior to the previous generation 100hp version.

The new TDI motor, currently available in the Jetta, will offer 140hp and a pavement-bending 236 ft-lbs of torque while getting an expected 35mpg city and 49mpg highway – leaving lovers of German engineering with a fuel-saving vehicle that is downright fast.

The Golf has always been known for great driving dynamics, sporty handling and high-quality materials shared with its upscale cousins, the Jetta and Passat. Add in the utility from its semi-box shaped hatchback design, and the Golf should be a sporty, fun and efficient option for diesel fans.

VW’s website says that the Golf TDI should be in showrooms by fall 2009 as a 2010 model.

With the uncertain future of gas prices and increasing environmental awareness, these upcoming vehicles are proof that some manufacturers are listening to the requests of consumers and developing new automotive technology.

They all save gas and reduce emissions while offering practicality and fun, as well as offering new options for those that want something different in both technology and attitude than the current hybrid vehicle offerings.

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