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Good Cars for Fuel Efficiency
March 10, 2011

As gas prices continue to climb above $3.50 a gallon, the point at more than half of consumers would consider buying a more fuel-efficient car, many wonder which models are best. CBS Money Watch offers their top picks.

Sales of hybrid and electric cars rose an astounding 19% in the month of February. However, before buying one of these models, it is important to think about how much money it will actually save you in the long-run. Try calculating the “payback time,” the point at which the money you save on gas exceeds the extra amount you pay for the hybrid or electronic car. For instance, Nissan Altima Hybrid, with a list price of $26,800 has a payback time from extra mileage over the gas Altima of 10.3 years, longer than most people would own the car.

CBS Money Watch recommends the following vehicles based on their payback times:

1.) Toyota Prius-This hybrid car gets an impressive 51 mpg in city driving and 48 mpg on the highway. At $23,050, it costs only $620 more than the comparable gasoline Toyota Camry. They payback time is only about eight months.

2.) Lincoln MKZ Hybrid- This sedan costs the same amount as the gasoline version-$34,605. Instead of a payback time, buyers must choose between a car that gets better gas mileage (the hybrid) or a car that is more powerful (the gasoline version).

3.) Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Diesel-The diesel version of this car starts at $61,950, or about $1,000 less than the gas model. However, buyers in this price league probably do not need to worry about the cost of diesel fuel, which can be pricier than regular gas.

4.) Audi A3 Diesel- At $29, 950, the Audi A3 Diesel costs $1,432 more than the gas model. But with its rating of 30 mpg in city driving, 42 mpg on the highway, it will pay back the difference in 2.3 years.