I suspect that most middle-class consumers aren’t ready to bet five years of car payments that a gallon of unleaded will stay around $2. Many won’t be betting on a new car at all.
That makes the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI a smart hedge play.
This diesel-powered sedan or wagon is frugal on the front end, starting at $22,640 with a six-speed manual transmission. A $1,300 alternative-fuel tax credit becomes a de facto rebate, cutting the base price to about $21,000.
The Jetta is frugal in the middle years, with a rating of 30 miles a gallon in town and 41 on the highway. The tiny two-seat Smart is the only nonhybrid car that can match the 41 m.p.g. rating.
But like many new clean diesels, which meet even California’s tough emissions rules, the Jetta scoffs at its sticker. Hoarding fuel like a mobile Scrooge, I averaged a remarkable 48 m.p.g. over more than 150 miles of freeway driving. That’s the best mileage of any American-market car I’ve tested — gas, diesel or hybrid.
Source: NY Times