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Best 2011 cars for fuel economy that are not hybrids

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The recent rise in gas prices is making fuel economy a top priority for new car buyers. Again. Here are six of the most fuel efficient cars on the market – all of them gas powered, all of them rated at 40 MPG or better on the highway, and there’s not a single hybrid model among them.

Edmunds calls this group the 40 MPG Club.

2011 Chevy Cruze Eco - The impressive fuel economy is a result of improved aerodynamic design and lighter weight. It also gets 28 MPG city, and has a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). the 2011 Chevy Cruze also is a best buy under $20,000.

2011 Ford Fiesta SE SFE - The “Super Fuel Economy” package is available on both sedan and hatchback models and includes aerodynamic enhancements, automated manual transmission and electrically assisted steering. The Fiesta also is one of the most affordable 2011 models, with a starting price of under $14,000.

2012 Ford Focus SFE - The Focus SFE model adds low rolling resistance tires, high-pressure direct fuel injection, engine cooling shutters and the automated manual transmission also found in the Fiesta.

2012 Honda Civic HF - Honda recently announced that the 2012 Civic will be available in a “High Fuel economy” model that includes a five-speed automatic transmission, special aerodynamic components, and ECO Assist—a technology that uses visual aids on the dashboard to help the driver improve fuel efficiency.

2011 Hyundai Elantra - All styles of the affordable 2011 Elantra line earn 40 miles per gallon thanks to its aluminum engine and widespread use of lightweight steel.

2011 Smart Fortwo - Smart was the charter member of the 40 MPG Club, the first gasoline model to break the barrier, with its 2010 model. The Fortwo is still the quintessential lightweight car with a fuel-efficient engine, although Americans generally don’t consider it a car suited for freeways because of its size.

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