7 cheap alternatives to hybrids

Save money with our favorite fuel sippers

We've done the math. Sure, hybrid and diesel-powered cars get great mileage, but they cost more to buy. So much more that it can take seven or eight years to make back the extra cost in fuel savings.  That's why we think a traditional front-wheel-drive compact or subcompact with a four-cylinder engine is a better gas-saving alternative for many buyers.  Our seven favorite fuel sippers for 2014 get at least 32 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving yet cost no more than $20,290, including delivery fees. That's incredibly affordable when you consider that the average transaction price for new cars and trucks topped $30,000 last year. These aren't some dreary little rides, either. The nicely equipped versions we recommend seat at least four and come with automatic transmissions, air conditioning, cruise control, six or more air bags, Bluetooth connectivity and iPod interface, and power windows, locks and outside mirrors. Why spend extra for technology if one of these rides will fill your needs?

By Russ Heaps
Interest.com Contributing Editor