If you're shopping for a new car next year (or wondering how much your gas-guzzling neighbors are spending on fuel), the EPA has just published your suggested reading: The 2009 Fuel Economy Guide. Hybrids swept the top four spots this time, with the 2009 Toyota Prius ranking as the most fuel efficient car for the third year in a row. The three-cylinder Smart Fortwo came in at number five, making it the most fuel efficient non-hybrid vehicle.
Other standouts: Volkswagen's new diesel-powered Jettas debuted in the top ten--a sign, perhaps, of more diesels to come. According to the LA Times blog Up to Speed, the Jetta TDI is "presumptively the first of a flood of European-made diesels to hit every one of our states." Described by insiders as "50-state compliant" diesels, the new vehicles have been engineered to meet more stringent emissions standards, which allow less particulate matter and nitrogen oxide, a key ingredient for smog formation and acid rain. (Hybridcars.com has a helpful comparison of diesel pros and cons on Yahoo! Auto's Green Center.)