) -- This spring's mix of 70- and 80-degree days in places usually contending with snow and high gas prices for travelers considering warm-weather road trips have drivers stuck in a seasonal slow lane.
A different car could help ease that congestion.
J.D. Power and Associates
are predicting total new vehicle sales for March will increase 7% from March 2011, to 1.08 million units. That would be the highest monthly volume in nearly two and a half years and would help increase total vehicle sales for the month to 1.37 million, or 6% more than last March.
This spring, however, not just any car will do. Through the first 18 days of March, compact and subcompact cars accounted for 23% of the vehicle market. That's the highest percentage since the "Cash For Clunkers" program began in 2009 and isn't entirely unexpected considering that the average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. hovers around $3.87, or 30 cents more than it was a year ago.
If car buyers can somehow combine low fuel mileage with a good look at the blue skies and early hints of green around them, perhaps prices at the pump won't completely dampen their unseasonably warm spring days. We huddled with experts from automotive sites Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and TrueCar to come up with a garage full of cars that give drivers not only a convertible top or panoramic sunroof to enjoy on a warm spring day, but fuel efficiency to make sure their spring drive isn't cut short stopping for gas. The following 10 vehicles fit the bill quite nicely: