Don't Wait For Hydrogen

Drive what's on the road today. Here are the three best adventure-ready fuel sippers.

Gear Hauler

Readers Speak!

How expensive would gas have to be before you sold your car?
: 8%
: 27%
: 26%
Never I'd rather drive my '78 Ford Bronco right into my own grave: 38%

Need a truck, not an ego lift? The 2WD, four-cylinder Ford Ranger is your pickup. With a lightweight body and fuel-sipping 2.3-liter engine, it gets a respectable 26 miles per gallon on the highway. It's not just about efficiency; the Ranger is the EPA's top-ranked pickup for its cleaner emissions, too. The 143-horsepower engine's 1,600 pounds of towing capacity might not be enough to cart around an Airstream, but with 7.9 inches of ground clearance, four-wheel ABS brakes, and an optional seven-foot bed, there's still plenty of truck to get you and your gear to the put-in. Base price, $14,880; MPG, 21 city/26 hwy (manual);

Weekend Warrior
The minivan-esque Highlander Hybrid might not do much to bolster your macho image, but it gets better gas mileage (27 mpg around town) than almost any hybrid SUV on the market, even with its mountain-pass-ready V-6 engine and 4WD. The reasons: a trimmed-down size, aerodynamic shape, and an "Econ" mode that limits gas-guzzling accelerations. Plus you get seats for seven adults, up to 94 cubic feet of cargo space, and 7.3 inches of clearance. Base price, $33,700; MPG, 27 city/25 hwy;

While the Toyota Prius may rule the city, where constant braking recharges its batteries, the greenest car for the open road is the Civic Hybrid. Honda's zippy classic now boasts a hyperefficient 1.3-liter, 110-horsepower engine that accelerates much faster at highway speeds than the Prius's anemic 1.5-liter, 76-horsepower engine. Even so, it still gets 45 mpg on the highway—meaning you can make it a bladder-stretching 550 miles between fuel stops. And thanks to its continuously variable transmission and tight handling, at speeds over 30 mph you'll completely forget you're in a hybrid. Base price, $22,600; MPG, 40 city/45 hwy;

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