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If Americans can't buy fuel efficient vehicles, then they're not going to do so.

Between July and September, passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. averaged 22.2 miles per gallon, down from 22.5 mpg in the second quarter of 2011. It's believed that the decline in fuel economy was due to extremely low inventories, particularly of subcompacts and compacts, as a result of the quake in Japan on March 11.

Ward's Auto's Fuel Economy Index Rating shows us that Volkswagen led all automakers in the third quarter with an average fuel economy rating of 25.6 mpg. Toyota nabbed the number two spot with 25.1 mpg, and Nissan, with 24.9, rounded out the top three.

Despite the dip in quarterly fuel efficiency, sales of 2011 Model Year vehicles resulted in an average fuel economy rating of 22.4 mpg, which is a one-percent increase over the Model Year 2010 results. Slowly or surely, we're making slight progress on the fuel efficiency front.

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