Search Cars for Sale

Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Popular Amid High Gas Prices

  • Used/CPO Car Insights Report shows rise in interest in efficient models
  • analysts cite higher gas prices as leading factor
  • Previous reports support their analysis

Analysts at reported a rise in interest in more fuel-efficient compact and midsize vehicles in the latest monthly Used/CPO Car Insights Report. The report from’s Trend Engine reflects activity by shoppers searching for used and certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. Analysts cite rising gas prices as a major factor in the trend toward more fuel efficient vehicles. The national average price for a gallon of fuel climbed to $3.40 in January, up $.30 per gallon versus January 2011.

Analysts at closely follow a list called Big Movers. It highlights vehicles that show a large month-to-month jump in shopper interest, often reflecting a rising trend. The latest report shows five fuel-efficient models in each of the CPO and Used (non-CPO) Big Movers categories. The Kia Optima and Chevrolet Cruze topped both lists. The Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Eos rounded out the CPO Big Movers while the Volkswagen Beetle, Toyota Prius and Dodge Caliber saw big jumps among used vehicles. Rick Wainschel, vice president of automotive insights at, says higher gas prices are largely responsible.

“Car shoppers are heavily influenced by economic factors, and the price of fuel has a strong correlation to the specific vehicles shoppers are considering,” said Wainschel. “With the spike in gas prices in January combined with forecasts for even higher prices, interest in fuel-efficient vehicles will very likely increase in the coming months.”

Other Insights Reports support this assessment. Lower gas prices last August coincided with a rise in searches for trucks and SUVs.

While gas prices are volatile, rising and falling with no apparent predictability, those who buy efficient vehicles while prices are up may be better prepared for any future swing. Even if gas prices drop, driving a more efficient automobile can still save drivers money. Aside from using less fuel, small cars are often less expensive to maintain, too. On the other hand, buying a gas-guzzling vehicle at a time when gas prices are low may later seem foolish when prices inevitably rise again.

What it means to you: High fuel prices remind car shoppers to consider the operating costs of a vehicle, resulting in more interest in fuel-efficient vehicles like the Chevy Cruze, Kia Optima, Ford Focus and Toyota Prius.


Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best New Cars for 2022

Here is our list of the best new cars for 2022 (presented in alphabetical order by manufacturer).

Best New Car Deals: September 2022

This month's best new car deals include several attractive offers for qualified shoppers.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This