The 1988 Honda Civic CRX got 57 mpg! That’s better than any car on the road today, hybrids included. And it didn’t take any special research or new technology. It was just efficient. Plain and simple.
The ’88 Civic had optional air conditioning, but a/c doesn’t account for a 30+ mpg loss of efficiency. By my estimations (through watching my gas mileage average), you lose less than 5 mpg by running the a/c. So why the change? Because Americans want more, more, more. (but they don’t want to pay more at the pump)
Honda says that a small car like the CRX wouldn’t stand up to today’s crash testing. However, the Smart car gets a 4 star crash test rating because of its more durable design. Check out this video of a smart crash. And a video of an ’07 Civic. Neither look fun, but you can see that the Smart’s frame stays in shape. Small cars, with thoughtful design, can be safe.