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Posted: 1:13 p.m. Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fuel-efficient vehicles: Best and worst payback

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


The high price of gas is making a lot of people consider fuel-efficient vehicles. But which ones are worth your money?

A new analysis from TrueCar.com analysis shows that my car, the Nissan Leaf, takes 8+ years to make back its cost vs. the Nissan Versa. So I'm looking pretty silly right now!

Of course, I didn't buy the Leaf (or the first hybrid ever sold in America, the original Honda Insight, back in 2000) for return on investment. Instead, I bought these cars as a symbol to get us to think about ways to get independent of foreign oil.

If you think the payback on the Nissan Leaf is bad, the Chevy Volt takes 27 years for payback vs. the gas engine equivalent of the Chevy Cruze, according to TrueCar.com!

Which vehicles offer payback almost immediately? The third generation Prius, the Lincoln MKZ hybrid and the VW Jetta TDI.

In other news, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that fuel-efficient traditional gas engine vehicles are in ample supply. So being able to get one somewhere in the mid to upper teens or low 20s is very possible as a lot of dealerships sit on a 70-day supply of vehicles.

In the auto business, a 55-day supply is considered ideal. That's the theoretical number of cars that if manufacturers didn't make another, dealers could sell what they have on the lot for 55 straight days. Fifty-five days represents a healthy inventory cycle. When you get up to a 60, 65 or 70-day supply, you'll find that dealers will be willing to wheel and deal on vehicles that get 30 to 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

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