We're barreling toward the 2011 New York Auto Show, where media days kick off in two weeks.

While concept cars like the Lexus LF-Gh luxury hybrid sports sedan will get lots of attention, once the media leave, actual car buyers will be just as curious about fuel efficient cars with high gas mileage.

2011 Hyundai Elantra

2011 Hyundai Elantra

And it's shaping up to be a great year for a new group of compact cars, which not only offer higher EPA ratings than before but also features and safety equipment never before found in this class.

All the new compact entries for 2011 offer at least one model or variant that achieves that crucial, magical 40-mpg highway gas mileage rating from the EPA.

The result promises to be better gas mileage, more features, and nicer compact entries in a segment that's increasingly important to the U.S. car market--second in sales volume only to midsize sedans.

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco Quick Drive and Live Photos

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco Quick Drive and Live Photos

With compact cars expected to take an increasing portion of total sales (along with compact and midsize crossovers) as corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) regulations tighten, the competition for this key segment will be fiercer than ever.

So here's the compact car sedan and hatchback you'll see at the New York Auto Show, along with the fuel-economy champs for each model:

  • 2012 Honda Civic: To be released at the New York Show, will offer HF high-efficiency, hybrid, and natural-gas versions
  • 2012 Nissan Versa: Whether reduced to subcompact size or not, will be previewed or released at the New York Auto Show
  • 2012 Ford Focus: Now in production and starting to reach dealerships, with one model rated at 40 mpg highway
  • 2011 Chevrolet Cruze: New for 2011, selling far better than Cobalt, Eco model with six-speed manual gets 42 mpg highway
  • 2011 Hyundai Elantra: Also redesigned for 2011, selling extremely well, all models rated at 40 mpg highway
  • 2011 Volkswagen Jetta: All-new for 2011, lower-priced base model, TDI clean-diesel option
  • 2011 Toyota Corolla: Best-selling model in class, but current version launched in 2007 is rapidly becoming outdated
  • 2011 Dodge Caliber: On its last legs, new in 2006, interior remodeled for 2010, neither car nor gas mileage is competitive

We'll have drive reports and more information on several of the more fuel-efficient entries coming up soon.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for our coverage of the 2011 New York Auto Show when media days begin on Wednesday, April 20.


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