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Shoppers Want Higher MPGs, not Higher MSRPs

It’s not much of a surprise that poll numbers supported the recent federal government decision to raise CAFE (that stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Given the fact that fuel prices are only going to creep ever upward -- not to mention the environmental costs of getting the gas from the ground to the pump -- drivers are realizing the benefits of high-mileage vehicles. It helps, too, that technology is improving, with hybrid systems, valve shutoff systems, direct injection, and clean diesels that all deliver a fun driving experience with better fuel economy.

LeaseTrader.com has the numbers to prove what we’ve been hearing for some time now. Of more than 1,100 respondents polled in a recent study, 72.4 percent said they are in favor of higher fuel standards. Nearly as many -- 69.8 percent -- believe that automakers already have the technology necessary to raise fuel economy significantly. Almost half of the respondents, 47.2 percent, said they think American carmakers can comply with the fuel standards and still turn a profit.

But here’s the kicker: Only 34.2 percent of respondents approve of the higher CAFE standards if it means vehicle prices will go up by more than $2000. That would be about a 10 percent increase for many of the most popular new models at dealerships today.

LeaseTrader.com also asked folks which manufacturers they thought were most likely to meet the new standard by the target date. In this poll, Hyundai topped the list, followed closely by its sibling Kia. Honda came in third, followed by Ford, which was the top domestic carmaker on the list. It probably helps that Hyundai and Kia don’t make large, gas-guzzling pickup trucks: CAFE stands for corporate average fuel economy, so the average miles per gallon rating of all cars a brand sells has to hit that 54.5-mpg mark. If you sell a lot of large SUVs and pickups, you have to make up for it with sales of gas-sippers.

Fuel economy is only one item to consider when doing your car research, so check out our auto buying tips for more helpful advice.