Car buyers are faced with a number of vehicle attributes at purchase time, including styling, performance, safety and quality just to name a few of the popular ones. However, the one attribute considered above all else by consumers according to a new study conducted by America’s AAA is a car’s fuel-economy.

The results show that a majority of consumers, in the U.S. at least, are not buying cars based mostly on emotional decisions such as looks and brand, but rather financial reasons in order to fight back at the fuel station. Respondents of the survey were also asked whether they think that legislators should impose stricter fuel-efficiency for new cars, and unsurprisingly 61% agreed.

The shift in attitude can be explained by the fact that while previously fuel price hikes were seen as temporary by consumers, the current fuel crisis is being seen as the way things are going to be for some time now. This is now having a direct affect on purchasing decisions of consumers. As J.D. Power and Associates' Bob Schnobus pointed out in an interview with The Detroit News, "increasingly, consumers are recognizing that prices are probably not going to go back."

Schnobus also explained that consumers have been downsizing to smaller vehicles in droves. Where previously, someone would have been more inclined to purchase a V8, they may now look at a V6 or turbo four-cylinder.

Carmakers are catching on. Most of America’s domestic brands intend to shrink their V8 offerings in the near future and are planning the introduction of frugal diesel engines and compact turbos.