A nationwide telephone survey by Consumer Reports shows that fuel economy is now the top purchase consideration among consumers in selecting their next vehicle. Fuel economy trumped all other factors, including quality, safety, value, performance, and design by a more than two-to-one margin.

Unsurprisingly, the small car segment was the biggest percentage gainer for purchase consideration, with 22 percent of respondents saying they're interested in such a vehicle, compared to 17 percent that currently own a small car, but the midsize and small SUV segments also showed increased interest among consumers. Of survey respondents, 11 percent currently owned a midsize SUV, but 15 percent said they were considering one for their next vehicle. For small SUVs, 9 percent currently owned one, and 11 percent said they were considering one. Even the pickup truck segment gained one point, with 13 percent currently owning one, and 14 percent saying they were considering one for their next vehicle purchase.

The survey also showed that women showed greater concern for fuel economy as a purchase factor than men, both from an environmental and foreign oil dependency standpoint. Only one in five respondents said they were considering a diesel model, with the study's authors citing the relative lack of affordably-priced options.

Source: Consumer Reports