Looking for a fuel efficient and dependable car to replace your old gas guzzler? The City of New York knows exactly what you're going through.

For years the city has relied on taxis based on the Ford Crown Victoria to shuttle its residents and tourists around Manhattan. Growing concerns over oil use and global climate change have the city looking for new options to replace its yellow fleet.

Cab duties, especially in New York, are some of the toughest challenges for a car. The long hours and rough roads will put any car through the ringer, and cab owners are keen on keeping operation costs down.

The taxi service is closely regulated in New York, and not just any car is allowed to become a cab. Just recently, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a handful of new cars for use in the Big Apple.

One of the most interesting vehicles that made the list is Ford's Transit Connect van. The Transit Connect is a unique vehicle that's mostly favored by small businesses for its large size and versatile storage options, but when equipped with seats in the cargo area, the Transit Connect can be a very efficient people mover.

The Transit Connect uses Ford's 2.0-liter engine, shared with the new Focus, achieving an impressive 23-combined MPG. That, Ford says, is enough to create a 30 percent reduction in fuel use over the current crop of cabs.

But, that's not the only trick up this Ford van's sleeves. The company recently released a kit for the Transit Connect that allows the engine to run on either compressed natural gas or liquefied propane gas instead of normal gasoline.

The Transit Connect isn't the only Ford that is destined for New York yellow paint. The taxi commission also approved the Taurus sedan. The big four door isn't as radical of a departure for the Taxi cab role, but its 22 combined MPG is an improvement over the 19 MPG earned by the Crown Victoria.

Nissan also received good news from the NYTLC. The US-built Altima sedan has also been approved for use by the commission.

The Altima Hybrid has been in use in New York for a few years, so local cabbies know that the sedan is rugged enough to take on the city's pothole-marked streets and long hours. The base Altima is capable of an impressive 27-combined MPG, which is only six less than the hybrid model. This means the Altima will use almost half as much fuel as a current cab without the extra costs of buying a hybrid car.

Nissan is also working with the city to develop 'The Cab of Tomorrow'. The Japanese automaker recently won a competition for a 10-year, $1 billion contract with the city to supply the NV200, a cab that is purposebuilt to be a New York Taxi.

author photo

J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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