In Texas, it seems 80 mph just isn’t fast enough. A bill passed in the state House of Representatives would raise the speed limit to 85 miles per hour on certain long stretches of road or designated lanes. The Senate is working on a similar proposal. If the bill becomes a law, Texas will have the highest speed limit in the country. More than 500 miles of interstate, particularly in West Texas, are already set at 80 miles per hour, and would be candidates for the change. Some worry raising the speed limit to 85 miles per hour would cause more accidents and could be unsafe. “The two things that contribute most to traffic accidents are speed and alcohol,” Jerry Johns, president of the Southwest Insurance Information Institute, told Reuters. “The higher the speed limit, the more accidents there are, the more injuries, and the more deaths.” But officials in Texas say they would study the conditions on the ground with safety in mind before determining where the speed limit would be increased. “You’re looking at the road. You’re looking at the safety features, slight distances and curvature,” Cynthia Northrop White, a Texas Department of Transportation representative told MyFoxDallas.com. “You’re looking at the 85th percentile of what people are actually traveling on that road.”
Texas isn’t the only state with a need for speed. Utah’s speed limit reaches 80 mph along certain segments. The limit was raised from 75 mph in 2009. “In Utah, after they adjusted from 75 to 80, nothing happened to the accident rate,” Gary Biller, executive director of the National Motorist’s Association, told Reuters. Many other western states have 75 mph speed limits including Arizona, Nebraska, Nevada, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Idaho, and Colorado, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Montana had its speed limit repealed in 1995, leaving the highways without any specific speed limit until 1999, according to the Montana Department of Justice. The speed limit is now 75.
With higher gas prices prompting Americans to seek better gas mileage, high-MPG cars are surging in sales: Small cars made up about 25% of sales in March. But amid all the mileage talk, very few drivers know the real answer to: What is my fuel bill going to be?
Car-shopping site Edmunds.com has done the math on monthly costs at recent gas prices; it recently ranked wallet-busters and super-savers in different categories of 2011 models. The range of costs was startling: Within the same size class, the thirstiest can run up a gas bill two to three times that of the best gas sippers. Edmunds assumed you drove a typical 1,250 miles a month (15,000 a year). Its analysts did these rankings after the national average price of gas calculated by AAA rose above $3.50; it is now nearly $3.70 (and above $4.00 in California). Obviously, monthly costs change as gas prices do. But the vehicles’ relative rankings won’t change much – and the Edmunds calculations give a good snapshot of how much an efficient car can brighten your gas budget. Additionally, these rankings provide comparable costs for alternate fuels such as natural gas and plug-in electrics.
Let’s have a closer look at the best and worst in four categories:
This ranking shows the most intriguing range of costs. The plug-in Nissan Leaf shows monthly charging costs of just $41 a month; its competitor theChevrolet Volt – which uses some gas for a back-up generator – takes $58 in monthly costs. The Honda Civic GX, fueled by natural gas, would cost $46 a month if you had a home fueling station and $87 a month if you bought from commercial stations. The monthly gas bill for a Toyota Prius hybrid (51 mpg city, 48 highway) would be $89.
Ranked worst for monthly gas costs among small cars is the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, a high-performance all-wheel drive car with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With just 17 mpg in city driving, 23 on the highway, its monthly gas bill would be $249 – six times the cost of the Nissan Leaf and 2.8 times that of the Prius.
With no plug-ins in this category, the lowest mid-size fuel costs belong to the Ford Fusion Hybrid, at right. Ranked by the EPA at 41 mpg city, 36 highway, its monthly fuel bill is $108. Just behind is the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (35 mpg city, 40 highway) at $111.
Most costly in this segment is the Volkswagen CC VR6 -another all-wheel-drive performance model with a six-cylinder engine ranked at 17 mpg in city, 15 highway. Its monthly fuel bill is $225 – just more than twice that of the hybrids.
Hybrids rule here too, with the Ford Escape Hybrid (34 mpg city, 31 highway) topping this list at $132 in monthly fuel costs.
That’s half as much as “worst” pick: off-roading champion Jeep Wrangler (15 mpg city, 17 highway), at $263. As Edmunds analyst John O’Dell notes, “Unless your daily commute is across the Rubicon Trail, it might make sense to bank the $131 a month you would save with a Ford hybrid and use it to rent a Wrangler for your annual two-week trek into the wilderness.”
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid (28 mpg city, 28 highway) tops this list at $158 monthly fuel costs but the Chevrolet Equinox with a standard gas engine ranked at 22 mpg city, 32 highway, is not far behind at $172.
The four-wheel-drive Nissan Pathfinder, with a 5.6-liter V-8 engine rated at 13 mpg city, 18 highway, is worst at $343 a month – among several Nissan, Toyota Mitsubishi and Mazda models in that part of the rankings. “You know it’s a brave new world out there when a list of the most fuel [efficient] midsize SUVs includes a domestic model – the Chevrolet Equinox – while the worst fuel economy in the segment is being racked up almost entirely by import models,” says analyst John O’Dell.
Of course, saving on fuel is only one aspect of automotive budgeting. The initial cost of that high-mileage car may take too long to pay back from gas savings. (See The Best Cars for High Gas Prices). But with the prospect of gas prices remaining high for the foreseeable future, it makes sense to at least consider cars with low fuel costs.
The Car Brand with the Worst Reputation In the U.S. is . . . One That’s Been On Sale Here For Only a Few Months
When you think of a Fiat, you either remember the crappy cars that people used to drive here in the ’70s and ’80s . . . or you think of them as the crappy cars that are a plague all over Europe. Well, the Fiat is back in the U.S. And we already hate it. Very quietly this year, the 2012 Fiat 500 subcompact car went on sale in America. Chrysler owns Fiat, and they’ve been selling it. And in a new study of the American car market, the car brand that got the lowest scores for reputation is . . . Fiat. Apparently, we have long memories. Even though very few people knew Fiat was back in the U.S., we only associate the brand with its mediocre ’70s fleet. In fact, the new Fiats are apparently getting pretty decent reviews.
Other car brands that scored just better than Fiat:
Cars with that got the highest scores for having the best reputations:
The Top Five Cars Purchased By Men and Women Show That Men Want Looks . . . And Women Want Practicality
A website called TrueCar.com analyzed more than eight million car purchases in the U.S. last year, to try to figure out how men and women approach the car-buying process. And they found . . . nothing but an old stereotype coming true. When it comes to car buying, men tend to favor cars that drive fast and look good . . . and women go for cars that cost less and are more practical. The lists of the top 10 cars that had the highest percentages of male buyers and female buyers are pretty comical illustrations of the findings.
The top 10 cars brands that have the highest percentage of male buyers are: Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, GMC, Jaguar, Dodge, Land Rover, Ford, Chevrolet, and Hummer.
The top 10 cars brands that have the highest percentage of female buyers are: Mini, Kia, Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Hyundai, Mercury, Mazda, and Mitsubishi.
The one model of car with the highest percentage of female buyers was the Volkswagen Beetle at 61%. For men, it was the Porsche 911 at 88%.
The hook of this story isn’t that police in caught a man driving 139 in a 55. That’s crazy, but not even close to crazy enough to end up on our radar. The reason we’re talking about this is because the guy was doing 139 in a 55 . . . IN A NEON. He was almost tripling the speed limit in one of the most generic, boring cars of the last three decades. We can’t even believe a Neon has a speedometer that goes to 139. The man is 23 years old and his name wasn’t released. He was driving through Saguenay, Quebec, Canada when he was caught. The car was a 2003 Dodge SX 2.0 they changed the name of the Neon to the “SX” in Canada that year in an attempt to get rid of the Neon stigma. It didn’t work, and Neons haven’t been made since 2005. The driver is looking at fines of $2,137 for speeding, $274 for worn out tires, and $1,267 because he had a PASSENGER at the time and was putting that person’s life in danger. He could also lose his license for two years. He was not under the influence at the time.
While most cars are supposedly designed for a wide range of physiques and statures, many vehicles don’t accommodate shorter or taller drivers very well. To find out which vehicles are better or worse for each, tall and short people recently tested vehicles, for seat comfort, driving position, access, and the view out. The shortest tester is 5 feet 1 inch, while the tallest is 6 feet 4 inches. A handful of cars are especially versatile and were rated very highly by both tall and short testers. Families with different-sized drivers might consider the Honda Accord or the Subaru Forester. Similarly, several models serve neither tall nor short drivers well, such as the Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Lotus Elise. Sports cars by their very nature cater poorly to both extremes: Tall people hit the roof, while short people can’t reach the clutch.
BEST FOR TALL PEOPLE WORST FOR TALL PEOPLE
|Ford Flex Limited||Chevrolet Colorado LS|
|Honda Accord EX-L||Dodge Nitro SLT|
|Honda Odyssey EX-L||Jeep Liberty Sport|
|Lexus LS 460L||Lotus Elise|
|Mercedes-Benz ML350||Mitsubishi Eclipse|
|Mercedes-Benz S550||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR|
|Nissan Murano SL||Nissan Z Touring|
|Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited||Porsche 911 Carrera S|
|Volvo S80||Porsche Boxster|
|Volvo XC70||Toyota FJ Cruiser|
BEST FOR SHORT PEOPLE WORST FOR SHORT PEOPLE
|Acura MDX||Ford Ranger Sport|
|BMW 750Li||Jeep Liberty Sport|
|Honda Accord EX-L||Lotus Elise|
|Honda Odyssey EX-L||Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring|
|Lexus ES 350||Mitsubishi Eclipse|
|Lexus LS 460L||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR|
|Mercedes-Benz S550||Nissan Titan SE|
|Nissan Maxima 3.5 SL||Nissan Z Touring|
|Saab 9-3||Porsche Boxster|
|Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited||Toyota FJ Cruiser|