Consumer reports put together their list of cars with the Best fuel economy for the buck. I'm guessing they were tired of seeing the Prius at the top of every one of their fuel economy lists, and wanted to find a new way to present efficiency (price per mpg) so they could take the Prius down a peg. I say this as a perfectly reasonable Prius owner, not some sort of rabid fan.
@SPK A motorcycle is the way to go. I paid about 1000 for mine a year and a half ago, average about 80 mpg in heavy traffic (small displacement bike, not a scooter), insurance costs about 1000 a year, and there have been almost no maintenance or repair costs. Plus, its a hell of a lot more pleasant than driving a car (even during the summer in Texas).
I got a bike last summer (1999 Honda CBR 600 F4) because I wanted one, and if I don't get one now I never will. It's not THAT great, but I can get a solid 45-50 mpg on longer rides. and still get 35mpg on regular stop and go roads. Not that great, but still way more fun (and practical) to drive than a prius
Anyway, about your "pleasant to drive even during the summer thing: I guess it's not that humid in the Texas, but in DE and MA when it occasionally gets to 90+ there's no speed you can reach that will provide enough air to cool you off. Just my opinion...
And, as often happens, no TDI's in the list. Not sure if it's because they suspended selling them for a year in preparation for the 2009 model year, or if it's because you can't buy them in five of the fifty states. But I would think a simple Golf TDI would be in that range in sticker price over MPG.
@jjmatt33 - I live south of Houston, we're usually pretty close to 100% humidity (right on the Gulf Coast) and daily highs range between 90 and 100 F all summer. I have an '81 Honda CM200T that gets me about 80 mpg. The only time its unpleasant is standing still in heavy traffic, which in Texas usually includes at least one HD pickup blowing diesel exhaust in your face. To me, that is worth the ~23k I saved over buying a Prius (plus the extra 30 mpg or so).