2010 Honda Insight - front three-quarterEnlarge Photo
Once again, Honda has the most fuel-efficient model range of the nine carmakers that sell a full lineup of vehicles in the U.S.
Preliminary figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed Honda averaging 23.6 miles per gallon across its 2009 vehicles, closely trailed by Hyundai (23.4 mpg) and Toyota (23.2 mpg). The 2009 average across all vehicles sold is 21.1 mpg.
Estimates track final figures
The EPA estimates are made using sales estimates and confidential information on model mix and engine options from the carmakers, as well as early sales data. Final figures based on actual sales will be released next year, but they don't vary much from the estimates.
2009 Honda CR-Z concept carEnlarge Photo
Honda unveils 2009 Civic and Civic HybridEnlarge Photo
2010 Honda Fit SportEnlarge Photo
The three U.S. carmakers were at the bottom of the list, due to their sales of full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. Ford was third-to-last, at 20.5 mpg, General Motors was second at 19.9 mpg, and Chrysler came in dead last, at a mere 18.7 mpg.
Honda: harder and faster
For the model year that's just started, the company launched the 2010 Honda Insight dedicated hybrid in February, which will be followed by the 2011 Honda CR-Z hybrid two-seat sports coupe and then by a future Honda Fit Hybrid as well.
But Honda is hardly standing still. Indeed, in the face of oil prices that have recently risen from $30 to $80 a barrel, and increased global regulation of carbon emissions and/or fuel economy, Honda is doubling down on efficiency improvements.
No V-8s, no big cars
It is changing plans for its model lineup, working harder and faster to take weight out of its new cars lighter, and make themless thirsty, even while keeping them nimble, clever, and fun to drive. It has already canceled a line of large rear-wheel-drive cars and a V-8 engine.
In addition to its hybrids, Honda's strength has always been its compact 2010 Honda Civic and midsize 2010 Honda Accord sedans. More recently, the well-received and versatile 2010 Honda Fit subcompact hatchback has been eagerly adopted by younger buyers.