From Mother Nature Network's Melissa Hincha-Ownby:

The results of the newest Consumer Reports National Research Center car-owner survey are in and fuel efficiency was the most important car-purchase factor according to 37 percent of respondents. Although only a little more than one-third of car owners cited fuel efficiency as the most important factor, the answer was well ahead of the second most popular choice, quality. Of the consumers surveyed, only 17 percent considered a vehicle’s quality as the most important car-purchase factor.

Safety came in just behind quality with 16 percent of the votes. The remaining car-purchase factors and their voting percentages include value (14 percent), performance (6 percent), design/style (6 percent) and technology/innovation (3 percent).

Consistently high gas prices are having an impact on the car-buying process. Survey results reveal that approximately two-thirds of respondents expect that their next vehicle will have the same, if not better, fuel efficiency than their current vehicle.

A vehicle’s fuel efficiency is so important to 60 percent of car owners that they would be willing to sacrifice on the size or the capacity of the vehicle in order to purchase a vehicle that has a better fuel efficiency rating.

The survey also examined what motivated car owners when they were researching or buying a new car. Motivations cited by survey respondents include:

Lower fuel costs – 90 percent
Latest fuel-saving technology – 69 percent
Environmentally friendly/green – 62 percent
Dependence on foreign oil – 56 percent
Change in lifestyle/family -34 percent

Car buyers aren’t just interested in fuel-efficient traditional gasoline engines; they are also interested in alternative fuel options. Hybrid vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles draw the most interest with 40 percent of survey respondents citing interest in these technologies. Interest in natural gas-powered vehicles and all-electric vehicles is also on the rise.

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