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Honda Civic Ranked Most Fuel-Efficient of 1995 Cars : Autos: Geo Metro XFi dropped off listing by EPA. Luxury models were biggest gas guzzlers.

October 03, 1994|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — After five years of dominating the fuel economy derby, the Geo Metro is taking a back seat in 1995--to be replaced by a Honda.

The Honda Civic hatchback emerged as the stingiest gasoline miser on the road among 1995 model cars, with Honda subcompacts accounting for half of the 10 most fuel-efficient vehicles, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a report to be officially released today.

Two Geo Metro models of subcompacts still made the top-10 list. But missing was the Geo Metro XFi which had been No. 1 for five straight years. Last year, Geo Metro cars finished first, second and third.

A spokesman for General Motors said the Geo XFi model was discontinued for the 1995 model year.

The Honda Civic hatchback was rated at 56 miles per gallon on the highway and 47 m.p.g. in city driving, the best among the new 1995 model cars tested.

As has been the case in past years, a string of luxury and high-performance cars made up the list of biggest gas guzzlers. The Lamborghini Diablo had the worst gas mileage at 9 m.p.g. in city driving and 14 m.p.g. on the highway. Eight of the 10 worst mileage cars were various models of the Rolls-Royce.

The EPA estimated it costs $1,841 a year to fuel a Lamborghini, compared to $750 for a Ford Taurus (21 m.p.g.) and $338 for the Honda Civic hatchback. The estimates were based on 15,000 miles of travel and average gasoline prices.

The EPA list showed 39 cars that were subject to the "gas guzzler" tax because of poor mileage, about the same as last year. The vast majority of cars and lights trucks were in the 18 m.p.g. to 29 m.p.g. category in combined city and highway driving. The Mazda Protege (34 m.p.g.) was the stingiest compact car and the Mazda 626 (29 m.p.g.) had the best performance among mid-size automobiles.

And about 7% of the vehicles--or 61 cars among those tested --showed combined city and highway mileage of 30 m.p.g. or better. Nearly half of the cars and trucks tested had mileage of 20 m.p.g. or less, including 84 cars with mileage of less than 15 m.p.g.

The Suzuki Samurai (29 combined m.p.g.) and the Suzuki Sidekick and Geo Tracker convertible (both 27 m.p.g.) were the most fuel-efficient light trucks.

The EPA provided no overall average mileage figures for 1995 models; officials said no such analysis had yet been done. But it is believed the overall numbers have not changed much from the last few years when average mileage among all vehicles has been about 28 m.p.g.

"Nothing has jumped out that says there is a change here," said Tom Ball of the EPA's automobile fuel economy testing office in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Some critics of the auto industry said the figures show again that market forces are not enough to get auto makers to increase fuel economy.

President Clinton recently named an advisory commission to develop a plan to reduce automobile emissions, mainly carbon dioxide from burning gasoline, that are linked to global warming.

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