Gasoline Prices Reach All Time High: Kelley Blue Book Reports Most Fuel Efficient Gas/Diesel Vehicles

IRVINE, Calif.

Fuel economy has become a growing concern with gasoline prices rising to an all time high of more than $2 a gallon in some parts of the U.S. this week, however many consumers are still not ready to make the switch to a hybrid engine vehicle. According to a recent poll, 23 percent of consumers say they would consider buying a more fuel efficient vehicle to combat high pump prices and less than half considered buying a hybrid vehicle as their next car.* That being said, Kelley Blue Book has compiled a list of 2003's most fuel efficient, gas/diesel vehicles.

  Most Fuel Efficient, Gas/Diesel, 2003 Model Year Vehicles

  Rank            2003 Make/Model           City         Hwy
  1         VW Jetta Wagon Diesel             42          50
                 VW Beetle Diesel
                   VW Golf Diesel
  2         VW Jetta Sedan Diesel             42          49
  3                   Honda Civic             36          44
  4                   Toyota Echo             35          43
  5                Toyota Corolla             32          40
  6                   MINI Cooper             28          37
                       Dodge Neon
                     Pontiac Vibe
                    Toyota Matrix
  7                Toyota Celica*             29          36
  8                Hyundai Accent
                    Nissan Sentra             28          36
  9                    Ford Focus             27          36
  10                 Honda Accord             26          34

"Hybrid vehicles are gaining in popularity, but still only make up less than one percent of the vehicles on the road today," said Charlie Vogelheim, executive editor of Kelley Blue Book. "In the end, a consumer's final vehicle purchase tends to be more of an emotional or aesthetic decision rather than a practical one."

According to the company's Top 50 Most Researched Vehicles list for February 2003, not one hybrid vehicle appeared on the list, confirming that even in the wake of high fuel prices, in-market car-buyers are still not including green vehicles in their consideration set.

The average fuel economy for the nearly 500 vehicles in the 2003 model line-up is 23.5 mpg, a decline from 23.8 mpg in the 2002 model year and 24.2 mpg in 2001. Vogelheim said he was surprised that the Kelley Blue Book list of Most Fuel Efficient Gas/Diesel 2003 Model Year Vehicles included cars with an average city-miles per gallon less than 30. "I think we are moving in the wrong direction," he continued.

A few bright spots on the Kelley Blue Book list are the vehicles that secured the top two positions on the Most Fuel Efficient, Gas/Diesel Vehicles -- diesel fuel vehicles.

"While these vehicles still put out an average level of emissions today, diesel fuel engines have come a long way since the 60s and 70s," said Vogelheim. "Improving diesel engines and lowering their emissions will be a more likely solution in the near term than hydrogen engines or wide-spread consumer acceptance of hybrids."

Consumers can expect to see more diesel vehicles on the road in coming years as the United States Environmental Protection Agency has set forth new cleaner, lower emissions guidelines for diesel engine vehicle manufacturers. 'Tier 2' standards, as they are called, will be phased in next year, with automakers being fully compliant by 2007.

   * Poll results compiled by a Yahoo! Autos/ Harris Interactive survey
     released February 25, 2003.

  About Kelley Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book's has been named first visited and No. 1 automotive site according to J.D. Power and Associates five years running and is the most trusted vehicle information resource, providing comprehensive automotive research tools and up-to-date pricing on thousands of used and new vehicles. Since 1926, car buyers and sellers have relied upon Kelley Blue Book for timely and accurate information to make well-informed automotive decisions. The company also offers objective vehicle pricing via products and services for both the auto industry and consumers, including the famous Blue Book Official Guide, software and the Internet. Rated No. 1 automotive information site by Nielsen//NetRatings, no other medium reaches more in-market car-buyers than; one in every four people who purchase vehicles visit Kelley Blue Book.

Safe Harbor: This release contains some forward-looking statements based upon data and information currently available Kelley Blue Book Management. Actual results may differ from those anticipated and or stated in this release. The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

SOURCE: Kelley Blue Book

CONTACT: Robyn Eckard of Kelley Blue Book, +1-949-770-7704, ext. 8349,

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