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Video: Fuel-Efficient Daily Drivers

02:48 min
By Editors
September 8, 2009

About the video

Patrick Olsen and Kelsey Mays drive six fuel sippers to see which one works best for the daily grind.


<v Narrator> Auto Reviews. With a lot of drivers worried about the high cost of fuel these days, there's more than one way to save gas in the type of car you buy. You're right, Kelsey.
while people have heard a lot about hybrids, there are some other choices out there. There's some new diesels and, of course, there's still the high-mileage gas cars available. So we've come here to check out three hybrids, two diesels, and the EPA's highest rated regular gasoline car, the Smart Fortwo, to see how they do as regular drivers. Let's take a look. To make our decision, we looked at seven separate categories. <v Kelsey>The Smart Fortwo was actually the cheapest car as tested, but the Toyota Prius had the lowest annual estimated fuel costs. But we didn't give those categories as much weight as the others. <v Patrick>That's Right, Kelsey. For us, the most important categories were comfort, ride quality and driving fun. Let's start with comfort. <v Kelsey>In this category, we took a hard look at roominess and seating comfort. <v Patrick>And the winner for us was the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Had really comfortable seats and a nice, roomy cockpit. And it just edged out the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Next up, we looked at ride quality. <v Kelsey>Yeah, Patrick. And that's where we looked at, how the suspension felt, as well as road, wind and engine noise. <v Patrick>And we found in this category, the Audi A3 TDI was our big winner. It was very quiet and silent, and smoothed out all the bumps on our multi-state trip. In second place was the Audi's cousin, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. <v Kelsey>And moving on, our next category is driving fun. Now, Patrick, tell me what were the criteria in that? <v Patrick>Well, Kelsey, we looked at each car's acceleration, it's handling and it's breaking. <v Kelsey>And our winner for this category was the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Now, after driving this, we all agreed that its burly diesel engine, and just the way it handled, made it the funnest car to drive. <v Patrick>I agree. In second place in this category was something of a surprise for me, was the Ford Fusion Hybrid, which also held the road very well. <v Kelsey>We took a quick look at cargo room by checking out if each car could carry two suitcases and a suit bag. The only car that really didn't carry those was the Smart Fortwo. All the rest of 'em did. And so we scored that accordingly. Our final category was interior quality. Patrick, what did we look at for that? <v Patrick>We looked at ergonomics, material quality, you know, all the stuff that makes a car feel upscale or not. <v Kelsey>And our winner in this category was the Audi A3. Its mix of cabin refinement and high rent materials really gave it a richer feeling than the others. Although, because it's an Audi, we weren't all that surprised. <v Patrick>You know what we were surprised by, though, in the third generation Prius, Toyota has really stepped up their game and that's why it took second place. Prius may have the lowest annual fuel costs, but for the best combination of practicality and driving fun, the Jetta TDI was our clear winner. Thanks very much to motor week for helping us to make this happen. Make sure you watch their take on these same six cars on your local PBS station and here on <v Narrator>For more car-related news, go to or our blog,