The term "gas guzzler" usually evokes visions of those fabulous cars of the 1960s and '70s with big, block engines, mega-horsepower and flashy bodies like the Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz (with rear fins), Pontiac GTO, Chevy Camaro SS and Ford Mustang Boss 351.
These cars didn't just guzzle gas - they downed it in one gulp. But it didn't matter much, not with the average price of regular gas at 36 cents a gallon in the early 1970s.
Fast forward to the present with average gasoline prices hovering at just above $4 a gallon, the Environmental Protection Agency hollering for more fuel-efficient vehicles, and the nation's economy still in low gear. For the most part, manufacturers have responded with vehicles that perform with fewer trips to the pump. The age of hybrid and electric cars is upon us. But despite the call for a more economical ride, there remains a stable of high-performance vehicles with insatiable appetites for fuel - and consumers who want them.
Take note that exotic vehicles (race cars or those with 16 cylinders, for example) and super-expensive custom models (more than $100,000) are not on the list. Several reports, including Car & Driver, named Ferrari and Bentley among the worst fuel-efficient offenders for 2010. Here we focus on cars the average consumer might buy.
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1. The Porsche Cayenne S
This is definitely a throwback to the muscle cars of yore with its 4.8-liter V8 engine, 400 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Its sleek body and German-built vroom are very appealing - even at about $65,000 - but oh boy, with just 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway this baby is one of the top gas hogs around. (Driving is often the most convenient way to get around, but it'll cost you. For more, see The True Cost Of Owning A Car.)
2. Land Rover LR4 and Range Rover
It's no surprise that SUVs dominate the list. Land Rover makes several models that are neck-and-neck when it comes to voracious gas appetites. The Land Rover LR4 (5.0-liter V8, 375 hp) and supercharged Range Rover (5.0-liter V8, 510 hp) make for fun driving, but each gets only an average 14 mpg, which translates to a lot of pain at the pump, not to mention sticker shock. Base prices run between $50,000 to $95,000. (These loans provide fast cash, but they could leave you deeper in debt. For more, see Car Title Loans: Good Option For Fast Cash?)
3. Infiniti QX56 (AKA a 5.6-liter engine)
This monster weighs in at more than three tons, with a towing capacity one-and-a-half times that, if you are so inclined to move some hefty cargo. But beware, all that brawn will cost you: This baby gets a measly 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway. (Don't get taken for a ride. For more, see Car Shopping: New Or Used?)
4. Nissan's Titan 4WD
Nissan is known for small, fuel sipping vehicles. But here we have a full-sized pickup that is quite the opposite. The EPA lists Nissan's Titan 4WD in its top-10 list of biggest gas guzzlers for 2010, and with good reason. It's huge 5.6-liter V8 engine, four-wheel drive and 14 mpg average makes this truck live up to its name.
5. Mercedes' GL 550 and Lexus' LX 570
Luxury auto makers Lexus and Mercedes-Benz have joined in on the SUV craze. So in addition to forking over some big bucks at the dealer, you can drain your wallet at the station, too. Mercedes' GL 550 and Lexus' LX 570 carry a sticker price of $80,000 each (before delivery charges), have enough interior room to cart around seven passengers and some gear, and manage just 14 mpg. These are definitely not the sleek and luxurious Mercedes and Lexus models you've come to expect over the years. (Find out what steps you can take to reduce the depreciation of your vehicle. For more, see Top 10 Ways To Get Top Dollar For Your Car.)
This tank-like vehicle, based on military styling and converted to civilian status, popped onto the consumer scene in the early 1990s, but aside from its enormity and off-road capability, who wants one in his driveway? For a while, they were everywhere - or maybe it seemed that way because they were so darn big. More than 54,000 Hummers were sold in the U.S. in 2006. But sales dropped drastically in the ensuing years and by spring 2010, GM closed up its Hummer shops. But they're still out there, marauding the streets in short stints before hustling to the nearest gas station for costly fill ups.
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The Bottom Line
For all the efforts to curb fuel consumption, there seems to be a cyclical desire for bigger, badder, faster vehicles, known as gas guzzlers. While there are those who require fuel-thirsty vehicles, such as the Nissan Titan, for hauling and towing, many Americans simply enjoy the feeling of operating a powerful and imposing machine. And as long as consumers are buying these high-horsepower vehicles, manufacturers will keep on making them. (Find out tips that'll save the haggling and get you a great price at the dealership. For more, see How To Get The Best Price On A New Car.)