Most fuel-efficient luxury cars

There’s no need for a gas-guzzler when it comes to riding in style, thanks to this selection of upscale fuel-sippers.

By Jim Gorzelany CTW Features

The price of a gallon of gas may have dropped by about a half a buck since its high point this past spring, but fuel economy remains the No. 1 consideration among new car buyers according to a recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports. Perhaps surprising to those who consider upscale cars to be inherent gasguzzlers, the number of fuel-efficient luxury cars — which we consider as getting 30 mpg or better in highway driving — has doubled in the past year to 20 models.

Both for the sake of affluent environmentalists who want to reduce their carbon footprints and wellheeled motorists who just resent paying high gas prices, here’s a quick look at the 10 most fuel-frugal luxury cars on the road.

 Tesla Model S. New-for-2012, the all-electric Tesla Model S is both stylish and luxurious. It’s powered by a quick 435-horsepower electric powertrain and boasts a maximum distance on a charge (with the optional high-output battery pack) at over 300 miles. MPG: 88/90 city/highway (electric equivalent).  Fisker Karma. Fisker’s “extended range” electric sedan uses a small gasoline engine to operate a generator that continues to power the car’s electric motors once the battery is depleted. It’s rated to run solely on electricity for around 32 miles on a charge. As the fuel economy numbers would suggest, the Karma’s realworld fuel economy can vary wildly depending on one’s daily commute. MPG: 52 combined city/highway (electric equivalent) on battery power, 20 on gas.

 Lexus CT 200h. This small and reasonably playful hybrid-powered hatchback teams a 1.8-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor-generator to deliver the equivalent of 134 horsepower. Selectable driving modes can maximize fuel economy or sporty driving characteristics. An optional FSport package affords enhanced cornering abilities. MPG: 43/40.

 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Lincoln’s luxurious midsize hybrid sedan teams a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine with an electric motor to generate a V6-like 191 horsepower, with compact car-like fuel economy. It remains the only hybrid model to be priced equivalently with its gas-only counterpart, at around $35,000. MPG: 41/36.

 Lexus HS 250h. This is the final model year for the short-lived HS 250h hybrid, which will be replaced in the automaker’s 2013 lineup by the new ES Hybrid. It’s essentially a posher version of the Toyota Prius, but without that model’s stellar 50 mpg fuel economy rating. MPG: 35/34.

 Lexus GS 450h. Redesigned as an early-2013 model, this hybrid version of the GS midsize sport sedan is both elegant and entertaining. A 3.5- liter gasoline engine is augmented by an electric motor/generator to deliver a V8-like 338 combined horsepower. It’s roomy and comfortable with a nicely styled interior, though it’s pricey. MPG: 29/34.

 Infiniti M35h. New-for-2012, Infiniti’s first hybrid boasts an impressive 360 horsepower, which makes it quicker than the conventionally powered M37, and with far better fuel economy. Rather than a gearless CVT transmission – as is used in most hybrids – the M35h utilizes a conventional seven-speed automatic for a more “normal” feel. MPG: 27/32.

 Audi A6. Sales of Audi’s redesigned midsize luxury sedan are booming and rightfully so. The standard 2.0-liter turbocharged fourcylinder engine produces 211 horsepower and, paired with an eightspeed automatic transmission, makes it the most fuel-efficient, conventionally powered luxury car on the market. It’s also comfortable and fun to drive. MPG: 25/33.

 BMW 328i. Recast for 2012, the BMW 3 Series remains the model to beat among small sports sedans for sheer driving pleasure. Here, a peppy 240-horsepower turbocharged fourcylinder engine can be mated to either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. MPG: 23/34.

 BMW 528i. Powered by the same turbo-four engine as in the base 3 Series model, the midsize 528i is only slightly slower and less efficient, given the added size and weight. As with its smaller sibling, its cornering abilities are hard to beat. MPG: 23/34.

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