Just when it seemed that hybrid and smaller cars had really captured the public's heart, many buyers are returning to old bad habits. Gas prices are not as high as they were in recent memories, and a fickle public is less concerned with fuel economy as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Cars.com's recent Consumer Search Index shows that the Ford Escape Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius had the largest declines among searches for used cars by shoppers. The Buick Enclave, Ford Expedition EL and Chrysler Aspen, all SUVs, were among the vehicles displaying the biggest gains in search behavior.
The reality, however, is that it is more important than ever to limit the carbon emissions that are fueling global warming. As human population growth continues to skyrocket, and India and China, among other countries, continue their rapid economic expansion, it is clear that conservation and efficiency are more vital than ever.
Oil supplies continue to be extremely volatile, at the mercy of fragile international politics, rogue dictators, price wars and disruption by natural disasters. The debate over when the world will reach, if it hasn't already, peak oil looms large on the horizon. Auto industry-sponsored pundits and some commentators continue to troll out the old myths that the larger the car, the safer the folks on the road.
However, study after study has shown that when all factors are included (single car accidents, risks to other drivers and so on), the safest cars are not the largest SUVs. Rather, the most decorated cars for safety, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, are the Volkswagen Jetta and the Honda Civic. Both small, fuel efficient cars.
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