Gas prices typically rise heading into the spring and summer driving seasons. But this year, it seems prices have already been steadily increasing and faster than in previous years. With prices expected to remain highest in California, the Midwest, and the Northeast, it's a sure bet that it will rise with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This news hits the tuner market especially hard, not only because we are dependent on gasoline to commute to and from work or school, but we have also picked up some nasty driving habits over the years. You know, driving like a man possessed. From checking if your car still has the ability to "chirp" Third gear or use the excuse of driving fast because his/her car's legs need to be stretched every now and then, we've admittedly done it one time or another. We have to drive fast cars; it's our job. But with the need for speed and owning a lead foot comes the heartache of a dwindling bank account. If reality hasn't set in yet, one day it will. If not today then perhaps a few months down the line, you will realize that the phrase "pay to play" means a trip to the local fuel station every time you step foot in your gas-guzzling street machine. Mazda is probably best known for launching its innovative, but gas-guzzling, rotary engine, which maintained an amazing 45-year run that finally ended production in 2012. Since then, Mazda has been touting its SkyActiv Technology engines for the past year with great success. Their newest Mazda3 i Grand Touring four-door models deliver an impressive 27 city/38 highway mpg (six-speed auto transmission). The 2.0L SkyActiv engine isn't the fastest on the block with its 155hp output, but it delivered enough power as tested firsthand when we decided to take press cars on a road trip out to San Francisco for a little R & R. We should mention that Mazda also has an S Grand Touring model with a 2.5L VVT engine that delivers 167 hp with a slightly less fuel-efficient 22 city/29 highway (automatic) mpg rating. Our seven-hour trip consisted of taking detours along the California coast to visit numerous scenic locations with a quick stop at Laguna Seca Raceway to take in some races before we finally made our way across the Golden Gate Bridge, all the while the Mazda kept chugging along without losing a beat. Impressive fuel economy is an understatement for the Mazda3. Our combined highway and street driving averaged 34.6 mpg while trailblazing more than 271 miles (combined city and highway) from a half tank of fuel. I would have never considered purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle, but after our road trip it got me thinking. The wife's fully built Evo IX MR (19 mpg on a good day) and my Subaru WRX (22 mpg) could become our weekend vehicles, while a more fuel-friendly car like the Mazda3 could hypothetically become a daily commuter car. Hey, you never know, it could happen! By Scott Tsuneishi Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!