Fuel efficiency may depend on your point of view

A recent trip to an electronics store has me thinking about fuel economy.

It started with some open parking spots near the store’s front entrance with signs reserving them for fuel-efficient vehicles only.

My male companion and I were driving my Volvo C-30. I figured my car was fuel-efficient enough to park there. It earns about 27 mpg highway.

That’s when he told me he parks his Corvette in such spots regularly.

Hmmm, interesting.

I wouldn’t have considered a Corvette fuel efficient. Granted, the 2011 Corvette earns 26 mpg highway — not bad. But my companion’s Corvette is a late 1990s’ model.

So it got me thinking: Just what is considered a fuel-efficient vehicle, and could the definition of “fuel efficiency” vary by personal point of view?

There are some obvious fuel-efficiency leaders such as the Toyota Prius (48 mpg highway), the Ford Fiesta (40 mpg highway), and the Chevrolet Cruze (36 mpg highway).

But one also could argue that the 2011 Ford F-150’s estimated 23 mpg highway rating makes it fuel efficient, too -- for a full-sized pickup.

My companion would say so. In fact, at one point earlier this year, he wanted to buy a pickup, despite having no need to tow, haul or construct anything with it. When I pointed out that he’d earn about 18 or 19 mpg if he were lucky, he good-naturedly said: “That’s pretty good!”

Fortunately, that phase passed, and he bought a BMW 3-series coupe instead.

That car earns about 28 mpg highway, which I guess makes him more entitled to that parking spot than me.