Only a few years ago, a car that got 30 MPG was heralded as an outstanding achievement in miles per gallon, even on smaller cars. However, now it looks like the bar is beginning to be raised. Finally.
For instance, the Ford Fiesta has been EPA rated at 40 MPG (highway) with it's twin-clutch automatic (granted, it's rated 29 MPG in the city) and 33 MPG combined. The upcoming 2012 Ford Focus was also announced with a 40 MPG highway rating. The Chevrolet Cruze ECO will be rated at 42. Keep in mind folks, these are not hybrids.
The '11 Mazda 2 is rated at 29 city and 35 highway—I'd say that's very respectable. However, some are already saying that's not good enough, and it should get 40 MPG. Ditto this with the '11 Yaris, which is rated at 29/36 (manual). However, one can only assume the next generation of subcompacts—Accent, Rio, Yaris, Swift (?), 500—will all get outstanding mileage.
So is 40 MPG the new fuel standard at which small cars will be judged? Will certain subcompacts and even compacts be shunned if they're getting 35 on the highway?
It appears the bar is indeed being raised. The next few years should prove to be interesting.