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Top 10 Efficient Non-Hybrids: The New Renaissance

A car that sips gas rather than gulps, looks good in dim light, and is lively to drive is the new renaissance in motoring. The coolest cars today are the green Hybrids, and fuel- efficient non-Hybrids, that share an unconventional styling. Here are 10 non-Hybrids that save on fuel while being practical, good looking, and fun to drive.

Acura RSX

The future of the automotive universe is in the garden. The 2006 Acura RSX is a luxurious, well engineered sports car, that has a green thumb. The car averages 27/34 mpg and has a MSRP of $20,325 to $23,845. Historically, the RSX is the successor to the ever popular Acura Integra, which was an entry level sports car in Acura’s line up; while the top of the line, NSX, boasted a top speed of 155 mph.
The 2006 RSX is quick by modern standards while being incredibly frugal on fuel. In a recent shootout, sponsored by Car & Driver magazine, the RSX beat out the Dodge SRT-4, Subaru Impreza WRX, Chevrolet Cobalt SS, and the Saturn Ion Redline. In terms of horsepower, two versions of the RSX and RSX-S are available in either 155 horsepower, or 201 horsepower respectively. The steady refinement of Honda’s VTEC technology makes it possible to deliver torque at both low and high rpm’s. Consequently, the RSX-S is able to rev up to 7,000 rpm – much like a motorbike and still be effective saving fuel.

Unfortunately, RSX’s dominion of the two-door sporty segment is being phased out in 2007 to give way to the Honda Civic Si and the Honda Civic Hybrid. Acura believes this will prevent intra-brand competition with other Honda products, namely the Civic. For now, the 2006 RSX is a reputable earth-friendly vehicle worth owning on its own merit.


Once you’ve sampled higher fuel efficiency of Japanese engineering, there’s no going back. The 2007 Mazda3 is a compact sports car that averages 28/35 mpg. Unlike the retro sensibility of the Mini Cooper, VW GTI, and the Honda Civic – the Mazda3 serves up a fresh perspective in design. The external aesthetic purity, functional cabin ergonomics, and the indescribably “zoom-zoom” sound from the peppy engine make it stand out from the crowd.

In our test drive, we sampled the larger 2.3-liter engine that has 160 horsepower from a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine. Our verdict: the 2007 Mazda3 is a sensational, fun-loving car to drive. The engine is happy zooming up to 7000 rpm in no time. The low- end torque could be better below 2000 rpm, but once you reach mid revs, the engine is eager to please. Mazda has done well applying variable valve timing and variable-length intake runners to the 2.0-liter engine as well, giving it 150 horsepower at 6500 rpm peak torque. Additionally, the standard five-speed manual shifter is smooth due to frictionless synchronizers and cable linkages.

For 2007, the Mazda3 is also available as a hatchback offering an additional 17.1 cubic feet of storage compared to 11.4 cubic feet for the 4-door sedan. Mazda3’s price of $13,750 to $17,500 makes it well positioned for the fresh out of college crowd, and driving enthusiasts alike.

Honda Civic Coupe

You don’t have to be a South American dictator to enjoy power, good looks, and fuel efficiency that distinguishes the 2007 Honda Civic Coupe from other cars on the road. The fast, safe, and elegant Civic embodies Soichiro Honda’s personal philosophy of an uncompromising sports car everyone can own. For MSRP of $14,810 to $18,710, the 2007 Civic lives up to the hype of exhilarating performance, while achieving 40 mpg on regular gasoline (and 51 mpg for the Hybrid).

The Honda Civic delivers vicarious fun in both its regular and Si iterations. The regular Civic delivers 140 horsepower from an i-VTEC, 16-valve, 1.8-liter engine that’s mated to a drive-by-wire throttle to make sure you arrive early at your meetings on time; and the Si unloads 197 horsepower from a 6-speed manual transmission.

An alternative to the VW GTI, Mitsubishi Eclipse, and the Mazda RX-8, is that the 2007 Civic possesses an assertive personality to successfully capture its share of the compact sports car limelight.

Mitsubishi Eclipse

More curves than a wonder bra commercial – defines the wholesome look of the 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse. After16 years of refinement, things are looking up for the fourth generation 2007 Eclipse, but there is a lot at stake for Mitsubishi. When the Eclipse debuted in 1990, it became an instant sensation in the rave young car buyers’ demographic, paving the way for launch of mid-sized Gallant and the compact Lancer Evolution. In 1995, the Eclipse was redesigned to compete more aggressively with higher priced cars from Honda and Acura. Although the 2007 Eclipse has curb appeal with shapely wheel wells, a lavishly appointed interior and a torque rich, powerful engine (263 horsepower in GT and 162 horsepower in the GS), there are a lot of cars in the $19,699 –$23,399 price point. It is also a lot heavier with a curb weight at more than 3,300 lbs.

Facing competition from the Acura RSX, Mazda RX-8, and Toyota Scion; the 2007 Eclipse works harder to retain its share of the pie.


What happens when you place a mighty fat epinephrine needle in the rear quarters of a thin, frisky rabbit? Does it run faster? Does it look edgy? Scared? In this case, the mighty fat epinephrine needle is the highly responsive 197 horsepower engine that utilizes Audi’s R8 racing technology to create a fuel-efficient turbo peaking at 5,100 rpm. And the Rabbit, totally redesigned VW GTI, is bigger and tighter than the vehicle it replaces. VW claims rigidity is up by 80 percent, due to high-strength steel panels and 230 feet of laser- welded seams. You certainly will not hear many squeaks and whistles in this vehicle. Step on the accelerator and the car responds immediately. There’s virtually no lag from the turbo as the car accelerates from 0 – 60 in 6.5 seconds while averaging 24/31 mpg.

When the first VW GTI was introduced, it was 1983, Michael Jackson was doing the moonwalk and the GTI was competing with the Chevy Camaro Z-28, and the Datsun 280 ZX. Today, the VW GTI has a MSRP of $20,340 and is competing with the Mazda3, Mitsubishi Eclipse, and the BMW 3 Series.

Toyota Camry

There was once a popular notion that highbrow luxury belonged only in the hallowed grounds of the German and Italian auto manufacturers. This might have been true ten or even twenty years ago, but not today. The caliber of vehicles emerging from the Toyota Motor Company, and Honda – even those made in American manufacturing plants, are second to none. It’s now possible to own a fully-loaded, emotionally charged 2007 Toyota Camry mid-size sedan for less than it costs for an entry level BMW 3 Series, or the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and even the Honda Accord.

The redesigned 2007 Camry picks up the pace with an art deco inspired interior. Power windows, door locks and multi-adjustable seats with lumbar support are standard in all trims. This is to drive a message home not only to BMW and Mercedes, but also to the Honda – the new Camry makes viable economical sense.

Bold new exterior shape make the new Camry appear as if it is draped in fine Eastern apparel. The look has a more of a landscape-inspired feel, the larger than normal headlights, integrated bumpers and dual crease lines on the nose make the front appear more prominent. Aerodynamics of 0.28 Cd further enhances the Camry’s fuel efficiency which averages 24/34 mpg (or 40 mpg in the Hybrid.)

The Camry has always been a popular selling car in the USA. The new version takes the game to a higher playing field. With a MSRP of $18,270 to $27,820, the new Camry is indeed a valid challenger to the anointed position enjoyed by the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Honda Accord and the Mazda6.


If space is an important criterion in choosing your next car, the 2007 Mazda6 is a valid argument for the buyer who seeks ubiquitous design in a purposeful family-oriented new car. The 2007 Mazda6 has more leg room than a VW Passat, Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and the Audi A4. It is also the only car in the line up that’s available as a sedan, wagon, hatchback, and race (Mazdaspeed6) version. With a MSRP of $19,000 to $30,000, you get a vehicle that satisfies your needs for an uncompromising design while understanding your family obligations.

The Mazda6 is a somewhat larger version of the popular Mazda3. The top of the line Mazdaspeed6 has a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-4, gorgeous trim, and choice of two exceptional exterior colors: smokestone and violet gray. Unfortunately, there’s no Mazdaspeed6 wagon, but regardless which version you choose you’ll get a responsive car that averages 24/32 mpg.

Acura TSX

Imagine waking up one morning to find a 2007 Acura TSX parked in your garage. You would probably grab the keys and head out for a test drive. Within moments, you realize this sharp-looking, well handling, and exceptionally powered 2007 Acura TSX is a resourceful lean machine.

The beauty of the new TSX is the invulnerability of build quality and the variability of torque. The TSX is not a muscle car, but the availability of torque across the full range of the rpm will have to think twice about the popularity of more expensive German sedans.

With the discontinuation of the Acura RSX in 2007, the TSX will become the new entry-level car in the Acura lineup. An alternative to the BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the Audi A4, the 2007 TSX is competitively priced to give all the thrills with a MSRP of $27,890 to $29,890. An edgier version of the Honda Accord, the TSX averages 22/30 mpg. Acura plans to sell 15,000 units per annum.

Honda Fit

Neither palm readers nor psychics can predict just how much room is inside the 2007 Honda Fit. Rumor has it, the Fit is 19.3 inches shorter than the new Civic sedan, but designed to feel bigger. An innovative 60/40 split 2nd-row seat enables this task, and also makes for distinct interior configurations. The 109 horsepower 1.5-liter, with VTEC technology gives 31/37 mpg.

Although the Honda Fit may be new to the USA, it has sold in Japan since 2001 and in Europe since 2002. This implies that a redesign may be in the works soon. Other cars in this market segment include the Toyota Scion xA and xB; and the upcoming Smart car. The Fit has a MSRP of $13,850; and can go from 0 – 60 mph in 9.3 seconds.

Honda Accord Coupe

With more cars on the road today than at any moment in history, Honda is aware of the many environmental challenges we face ahead. Maximizing efficiency and reducing pollutants is the new paradigm that all car companies need to address. The 2007 Honda Accord coupe, for example, has a clean, distinguished look, choice of two intelligent engines of 166 horsepower and 244 horsepower respectively, (25/34 mpg) and the 253 horsepower hybrid that averages 26/34 mpg. The new Accord, in either the regular or Hybrid version, makes a statement – each vehicle has the power to change the world.

Where the 2007 Honda Accord really shines is in the styling, handling, safety, fuel efficiency, and the strong residual department. These are vital components of the success of the Accord in the USA. While the fuel efficiency of the Honda Accord Coupe is not as good as those of the Toyota Prius, or even the Honda Civic, they are better than most family cars on the road. The 2007 Honda Accord Coupe has a MSRP of $20,475 – $29,500 and is available in 13 trims.

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