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Once Labor Day has passed, gas prices tend to decrease. However, TIME reports that national gas prices are hovering around $3.84 a gallon in many states. Hurricane Isaac and plant shut downs in the United Kingdom have slowed production and limited resources, according to GasBuddy.com. The gas-price tracking site expects prices to decline by the end of the month and “bottom out between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” but the cost of filling up is still a concern for most Americans. When gas prices go up, one of the best ways to curb your fuel costs is to purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle.

Earlier this week, AAA reported that Hawaii ($4.37), California ($4.17), Illinois ($4.09) and Connecticut ($4.07) have the highest average gas prices in the nation. Paying for a fill-up may be daunting in these states, but a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle can help you control what you pay. For the 2012 model year, Toyota expanded its Prius hybrid lineup to include four models: the third-generation Prius, Prius c, Prius Plug-in Hybrid and Prius V. The Prius c, for example, averages 53/46 mpg city/highway.

The Honda Civic, Insight, and CR-Z hybrids and the FCX Clarity electric vehicle round out Honda’s offerings, with fuel economy ratings as high as 41/44 mpg for the Insight. The automaker’s lineup will soon include the Honda Fit EV, as well as plug-in and conventional hybrid versions of its redesigned 2013 Honda Accord.

For the 2013 model year, Ford and Volkswagen will release hybrid versions of their Jetta and Fusion sedans. Ford will also debut the Ford Focus Electric, which will join the Mitsubishi i and Nissan Leaf EVs, which are already available.  

One drawback to hybrid and electric cars is that they’re among the most expensive vehicles on the market, but a number of gas-only cars have impressive ratings. Models by Hyundai and Kia such as the Elantra, Sonata, Rio and Optima lead their classes with some of the best fuel ratings. Ford has also boosted fuel economy by offering a special package that increases mileage to 29/40 mpg for the Ford Fiesta, as well as efficient EcoBoost engines in models like the 2013 Ford Escape. General Motors has also used fuel-saving technology in models like the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Buick LaCrosse eAssist.  

Shopping for a fuel-efficient affordable small car or affordable midsize car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. You can also find the best local prices in the area by using our Best Price Program. Also, be sure to follow us on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest.