Many American families are really feeling the pain at the pump. With oil prices soaring to new heights on a daily basis and budgets tightening at every turn, the fuel-efficiency of the cars we drive is becoming the top factor in automotive purchase decisions.

Since this is not a one-size fits all proposition, we have compiled the five most miserly offerings overall according to the new EPA estimates, plus some choices in the SUV and luxury segments.

It should be noted that starting with 2008 models, EPA mileage calculations have changed. The new EPA regimen consists of considerably higher speeds and quicker acceleration, air-conditioner use and cooler outside temperatures than the previous method.

This means that compared to an identical '07 model, window-sticker results will generally drop 1-3 mpg for the city rating, and 2-4 mpg for the highway tag. The higher the original mileage figure, the more that model will suffer under the new procedure.

View Pictures:  Fuel Economy Leaders

Here are the Top 5:

Toyota Prius

The pinnacle of hybrid development, the Prius has dazzled tree huggers and red-carpet celebs to no end. Toyota has improved the standard content of the Prius as well as the quality and quantity of optional fare, taking the compromise out of going green. A miserly 76-horsepower 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a 67-horsepower electric motor are the miracle workers. However, when it comes to electric motors torque reigns supreme and the Prius has a stout 295 lb-ft.

Honda Civic Hybrid

Click to enlarge pictureHonda Civic Hybrid (© American Honda Motor Co., Inc.)

Honda Civic Hybrid

The Civic Hybrid powertrain features a 1.3-liter gas engine, Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) and a continuously variable transmission. With both engines online, max output is 110 horsepower at 6000 rpm. With its Civic connection, this hybrid reaps eight generations worth of refinement and other benefits of a tried-and-proven commuter.

smart fortwo PURE

The essence of 'Euro cool,' smart's fortwo PURE trim level is a straight gasoline-engine, micro-size urban commuter. Motivation comes from a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine rated at 71 horsepower, teamed with a five-speed automated manual gearbox. The up-rated PASSION trim checks in at $13,590 and has more standard features, air conditioning among them. The PASSION CABRIOLET is also available with a $16,590 sticker. The smart's innovative Tridion Safety Cell is designed to ensure the fortwo can stand up to impacts from larger, conventional automobiles.

Toyota Yaris

The Yaris is available in hatchback or sedan configurations in base and S trim levels. The car's styling is a bit on the funky side, but with a highly configurable interior and 20 storage possibilities the Yaris is more roomy and comfortable than its diminutive dimensions might suggest. Its 106-horsepower 1.5-liter mill is peppy, especially when joined to a five-speed manual gearbox.

MINI Cooper

The original Mini Cooper made its name at the Monte Carlo Rally, winning the event three consecutive years in the mid '60s. The new MINI combines the moxie of the original with BMW's engine and construction technology. For 2008 MINI introduces the MINI Clubman, a stretched model with a longer wheelbase, integrated suicide-style rear door and a lot more interior space. Both hardtop and Clubman models produce the same 28/37 fuel economy rating, so let the good times roll.

Message board: With oil prices continuing to escalate, would you choose one of these fuel-sipping machines as your daily commuter? Why or why not?