Your guide to choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle

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Fuel efficiency and energy savings are more than just buzzwords — they’re a great way to save money at the pumps and make a significant positive impact on our environment. Here’s what to look out for when choosing a greener ride:

The smaller, the better. How many passengers do you usually drive? How much space do you normally need for tools, groceries, luggage, sports equipment, and other cargo? Choose the smallest vehicle that meets your everyday driving needs. They’re usually cheaper and more fuel-efficient than bigger models, saving you money in the showroom and on the road. If you end up needing to haul more passengers or gear, consider using a trailer or roof rack, or renting a bigger vehicle. The money you save by using a smaller vehicle should more than cover rental costs. Not to mention parking in a tight spot will be that much easier.

Take a look at the transmission. Steer towards a vehicle equipped with a continuously variable transmission or one with the most automatic gears. Manual transmissions may also be more fuel-efficient than automatic ones depending on the vehicle. Generally speaking, extra gears are better able to keep the engine running at or near its optimal speed.

Keep things simple. Don’t need four-wheel or all-wheel drive? Lose them if you can. They offer greater control in slippery conditions, but at a price. These drivetrains add weight to the vehicle and increase driveline resistance compared to two-wheel drive vehicles. Consider that all-wheel drive vehicles are constantly drawing power from the engine even when road conditions are dry and clear.

More power is not always better. Stick with the power you need for your everyday needs. A vehicle with a lots of power will typically weigh more, burn more fuel and cost more money to operate. However, if you expect to tow heavy loads or load up your car often, a higher horsepower engine can actually save you money. An engine that is too small for a load may be overworked, which can drive up gas use dramatically compared to an engine built for the task. Keep your needs in mind when choosing engine power. -NewsCanada

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