August 15, 2014 at 11:20 am EST | by Joe Phillips
Easy on the gas
fuel-friendly vehicles, gay news, Washington Blade

Ford Fiesta

Size matters when it comes to fuel-friendly vehicles, right? Compacts are eco-friendly, mid-sizers are mediocre and SUVs are major gas guzzlers. But that’s not as true as it used to be. Today’s models generally get better mileage than their predecessors.

FORD FIESTA
$18,000
Mpg: 28 city/36 highway
0-to-60 mph: 8.9 seconds

The feisty Fiesta isn’t a tuner car, but it’s close. Spiffy, spry and loaded with standard features (including seven airbags) this entry-level hottie is a nice surprise. There’s blind-spot monitoring, hill-start assist (to prevent roll-back on an incline) and an emergency function that automatically connects your cell phone to a 911 operator. Luxe-like options: heated seats, rearview camera and parking sensors. Available as sedan or hatchback, the Fiesta comes with choice of three fuel-efficient engines. One is capable but pokey and the other two are spunky turbos. This year there’s also the kickin’ ST model (hatchback only), with sport-tuned suspension, muscular cladding and dual exhaust tips.

fuel-friendly vehicles, gay news, Washington Blade

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

LINCOLN MKZ HYBRID
$39,000
Mpg: 22 city/33 highway
0-to-60 mph: 7.2 seconds

How to bring Lincoln back from extinction? That’s the question as the brand — known as a mainstay for livery services and funerals — tries to re-build its luxury-car cred. Gone are the dowdy designs of Town Cars and such, replaced on the MKZ with a fresh, mod look that boasts a severe grille and ground-hugging profile. There’s also a sharply sloped rear roof, though it greatly reduces rear-seat headroom. And while the interior is techy and road-trip comfy (check out the power massaging front seats), there’s some cheap plastic that fights with the upscale wood trim and an oh-so-slow infotainment system. Still, this mid-size hybrid handles corners like a pro, is full of the latest safety gear and even has an automated parallel-parking system.

fuel-friendly vehicles, gay news, Washington Blade

Mercedes E250 BlueTec

MERCEDES E250 BLUETEC
$51,000
Mpg: 28 city/45 highway
0-to-60 mph: 7.8 seconds

After driving this Mercedes BlueTec to New York City and back on just one tank of gas, who wouldn’t be a clean-diesel fan? All the Benz niceties are here: swanky interior, sure steering, safety features galore (including automatic braking with pedestrian protection). Just don’t expect racecar thrills — 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds is tepid, at best. But then, this is a 4,400-pound, mid-size sedan with only a four-cylinder diesel (the last time Mercedes sold one of those engines in the U.S. was 1985). This E-Class really is more eco-chic than sport-sedan savvy like, say, a BMW or Audi. But the bolstered seats do have a tight Euro feel, and the 14-speaker Harman Kardon stereo is superb.

fuel-friendly vehicles, gay news, Washington Blade

Subaru XV Crosstrek

SUBARU XV CROSSTREK HYBRID
$25,000
Mpg: 22 city/30 highway
0-to-60 mph: 9.9 mph

Subaru’s small, well-rounded crossover gets a hybrid model this year. Styling on the Crosstrek is fun, but not off-putting (like the ill-fated Honda Crosstour or — yikes! — that bizarro Pontiac Aztec). And high ground clearance gives the driver great visibility. While acceleration can be slow, especially from a standing start, the paddle shifters really help. As with all Subaru sound systems, this one isn’t crisp or powerful enough for aspiring DJs. But the cabin is quiet and the manual seats are surprisingly comfortable. There’s also plenty of leg room, even in the backseat, though cargo space is practically nil. This pint-size hauler fits in almost any parking spot and gets high ratings in crash tests and reliability.

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