In a survey conducted for the CFA by market research firm ORC International, 81 percent of respondents said that gas mileage will be an important factor the next time they purchase a new car, while 54 percent rated mileage as very important.
The study found that fuel economy was a particular concern for women, 60 percent of whom rated it as very important, as well as for respondents under the age of 45 (59 percent) and those with annual incomes in the $25,000-$50,000 range (64 percent).
In addition, more than 80 percent of those surveyed said they support federal fuel economy standards and 52 percent strongly support the regulations.
According to the CFA, support for standards was highest among 35-44-year-old respondents, with 63 percent of that age group saying they strongly support federal requirements. Also expressing strong support were those with college degrees (60 percent) and those with incomes above $100,000 (59 percent).
One reason consumers are concerned about fuel economy, according to the survey, is that they don't expect the recent trend of low gas prices to continue.
The study found that respondents think fuel prices will be at or above $3.00 per gallon within five years, and one-third say they believe pump prices will hit $4.00 per gallon within that time frame.
"Consumers are understandably wary of gas price swings," said Dr. Mark Cooper, CFA's director of research, in a statement. "Thankfully, purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle remains a practical, sensible way to save money and protect your household against gas price spikes."
Cooper has determined that the cost of the latest fuel-efficient technology would more than pay for itself over a vehicle's lifetime, even if the price of gas dropped as low as $1.30 per gallon.
To help shoppers identify the most fuel-efficient vehicles available in 2016, Edmunds.com publishes a list of ten gasoline- and diesel-powered models that get at least 40 mpg on the highway.
The high-mileage club includes the 2016 Ford Fiesta SE (with the EcoBoost fuel economy package), 2016 Scion iA, 2016 Honda Civic, 2016 BMW 328d, 2016 Ford Focus, 2016 Mercedes-Benz E250 Bluetec, 2016 Honda Fit, 2016 Mazda 3, 2016 Chevrolet Sonic and the 2016 Mazda 6.
Adding hybrids into the mix gives shoppers an even wider range of fuel-efficient models from which to choose, including the 2016 Ford Fusion Hybrid, 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, 2016 Lexus ES 300h, 2016 Toyota Prius and the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid.
Or it's possible to bypass the gas station entirely with an electric vehicle, such as the 2016 BMW i3, 2016 Chevrolet Spark EV, 2016 Fiat 500e, 2016 Ford Focus Electric, 2016 Kia Soul EV, 2016 Nissan Leaf, 2016 Tesla Model X or the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf.
Edmunds says: Consumers clearly want fuel-efficient vehicles, according to this study, and luckily there are a lot of models at local dealerships that fit the bill.