My best purchase to date has been the 89 Honda Wagovan I am driving. I paid $500 for it. I had to put about $300 in repairs into it and it has been a very dependable car. It has about 215,000 on it, it doesn't use hardly any oil and runs great.
My next best purchase was a 1987 Civic DX, which I paid $1500 for. I had one daughter who used it for college and then moved on to a Camry. I have a second daughter who is driving it for college, now. I can get a little better mileage out of my wagon, than she gets out of the DX, which is a reflection of the difference between fuel injection and carburated, as well as some engine head design differences.
The way I look at it is that if we can drive something that is using substantially less fuel, then the total emissions which are emitted have to be substantially less than in some other type of vehicle. In terms of cost, I look at it as the total cost/reliability of ownership. With what I've paid for these cars and with the mileage they get, I feel they have been a very good value.
For the sake of comparison I'll stick with the cars for which I have records.
96 VW Passat TDI sedan, purchased in 97: $20,000. 52.5 mpg (135,111.7 mi/2,573.76 gal). 68.6 mpg best tank. Total loss in 2000. Received $6,500 and kept the car. Sold the drive line for $900.
86 VW Golf diesel, purchased in 2000 as an interim: $700, 44.54 mpg (2058.2 mi/46.21 gal). 48.61 best tank. Sold for $500
96 VW Passat TDI sedan, purchased 2001: $6,500, 52.0 mpg (115,894 mi/2,228.7 gal) 82.3 mpg best (2003 Tour de Sol). Sold for $3,000.
96 VW Passat TDI wagon, purchased 2004: $4,500, 48.9 mpg (69,252 mi/1,417.57 gal). 77.5 mpg best (2005 Tour de Sol). Total loss in 2006. Received $5,000 and kept the car. Transferred the drive line into...
97 VW Passat GLX wagon, purchased 2006: $3,300 plus the drive line from above, 46+ mpg to date.
69 SAAB Sonett, purchased in 98: $5,500, consistently 450~480 miles per 12~14 gallon refill, so around 35 mpg to date.
My prior car's and bike's fuel records (and purchase costs) are non-existent or long forgotten. The CM450E was about 65 mpg, the 1500 Goldwing about 45, The Suburban was between 9 and 11. The Tempo was 40, but only once. The Volvo 760 was 20 average with a best of 27. The other dozen or so cars and bikes in the past 30 years are best forgotten.
Which do I choose? The poll says "most FE vehicle", the thread says "most fuel efficient car". If 'vehicle': My sailboat uses less 'fuel' per unit of distance than my bicycle.
And are you considering fuel efficiency based on one best measurement of distance per unit of fuel, or on the lifetime (or duration of ownership) average of all distances divided over total fuel? I've had cars that could be wrung out to a better mpg than the best of my motorcycles, but the cars were seldom driven that way. Their average was lower than the motorcycle's.
When I posted this thread, I had car/van/truck/wagon etc in mind (I guess any mass produced consumer-grade 4 wheeled contraption will work. Bikes and boats are in their own league considering weight, engine design, and purpose) I wanted it to be simple so "lifetime" FE will be the criteria, b/c anyone can throw a Ford Expedition SUV down a big hill w/ the engine off and claim "infinite mpg" based on a single run, despite a lifetime of 12.3 mpg (I use that specific figure b/c it's what my sister's Ford Ex displayed last time I talked to her...apparently fuel economy awareness does NOT run in my faimly)
PS - Mabe "V-Dub Nut" should have been a more suiting name Lug? I've always wanted a Baha Diesel Bug myself...
'85 CRX Si Original EW3 @ 254k...suck it Detroit
'89 CRX HF-Z1 ~ When haste is needed
'97 Civic DX Hatch ~ Formerly 600hp, now 0hp, soon 115hp.