While hybrids have gotten most of the attention from American drivers looking for better fuel economy in the last few years, they are far from the only solution and very likely not even the best solution especially if you spend any significant amount driving on the highway. Hybrids are generally not cheap and often fall outside of the budget of most lower income drivers. There are plenty of used small cars that can achieve real world mileage comparable to or better than hybrids.

A writer for the Economist found that after moving from England to Texas a few years ago, hybrids were in short supply so he checked out used cars instead. A 2001 Honda Civic turned up with 35,000 miles and a $10,800 price tag. It was immediately getting 30/34mpg city/highway and after some basic maintenance like new filters the highway mileage jumped to 40mpg even at 78mph on Texas highways. Just having a lighter, smaller engined car combined with regular maintenance can give you pretty much the same real world mileage as a hybrid.

[Source: The Economist via Autoblog]