It was Earth Day, and I pulled up to a noodle joint and parked next to an old Geo Metro. The diminutive little car stood out in a sea of pickups and SUVs, like a defiant statement against the modern status quo.
As I exited my vehicle, the owner of the Metro approached his.
“Great car,” I said.
“Thanks,” he replied, ”I get 46 miles per gallon, I’ll keep ‘er till she stops running. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.”
I smiled, nodded, and went into the restaurant thinking about his claim. Was he right? Are there any cars like the Metro that are still available for purchase in the United States?
I can think of at least one.
The Metro was a 3-cylinder 55-horsepower gas-powered Suzuki marketed in the U.S. by General Motors as a Geo and later as a Chevy. It was dirt cheap and managed to return fuel economy that no modern non-hybrid car can touch. There are even folks who modify Metros to get up to 100 miles per gallon!
The Metro driver was right in that there isn’t a modern-day gas-powered vehicle that returns 46 miles per gallon. However, there is a turbocharged Chevy Cruze that is good for 42mpg without the help of any electrons.
Even more similar to the old Metro, though, is the humble Mitsubishi Mirage, which has an EPA rating of 39mpg in combined city and highway driving. The Mirage has a starting price of just $12,995 and comes with a 78-hp 3-cylinder gas engine. That puts it within easy reach of the vast majority of U.S. car-buying adults whose only requirement when buying a vehicle is fuel economy.
Reviews from owners of the Metro show just how loved the old car remains. They take a certain pride in commuting in a car that costs virtually nothing to acquire or operate. Will the Mirage gain the same acclaim over time?
I think so. Right now it’s hard to find much positive written about the smallest Mitsubishi, but used versions should be easy to buy if gas prices rise and technology continues to increase the cost of modern, fuel-efficient cars.
What’s the highest fuel economy you’ve ever achieved, and what were you driving?