Even the new Mustang promises 30 miles to the gallon.
James B. Stewart - April 13, 2010
Two years ago, I approached the New York International Auto Show with what seemed a simple goal: a comfortable, attractive, reasonably high-performance car that got at least 30 miles to the gallon. The pickings were slim. The finalists were the Mini Cooper Clubman, the Ford Escape Hybrid, and the diesel Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen. But there weren’t many other contenders. Even some hybrids didn’t meet the 30-mpg standard.
What a difference in just two years. Despite the debilitating financial crisis and recession, car makers seem to have poured their R&D budgets into exactly what I was looking for. There’s even a new category for such cars: an environmental performance segment. My previous finalists were all there, still boasting 30-plus fuel efficiency, luxury touches and a fun driving experience. Mini is even introducing what I suppose could be called an SUV — the Countryman, which goes on sale next year and features all-wheel drive. (Its fuel-efficiency ratings haven’t been released yet.)
The new Ford “world car,” a single design for a multinational market, easily fits the bill. The car, christened the Fiesta, goes on sale this summer in the U.S. and features an estimated mpg of 40 on the highway and 30 in the city. The model I sat in sported leather seating with contrasting piping, ample legroom and a hatchback leading to a surprisingly large cargo space. It made me eager to drive it. (Ford has also brought its hybrid technology to the luxurious Lincoln MKZ.) Crowds at the show were also admiring the hybrid version of Ford’s Fusion (Motor Trend’s 2010 Car of the Year), as well as several new Focus models. Even the new Mustang promises 30 miles to the gallon, at least on the highway. As a Ford shareholder, I keep worrying the news can’t get much better for Ford. But that’s a nice problem to have, and after this visit, I feel my investment is in sound hands... [Read More]