The Datsun 200SX for '79 didn't have TURRRRRBO power yet, but it packed a not-too-shabby-for-its-time 92 fuel-injected horsepower. Weighing just 2,268 pounds (about 650 pounds less than the '08 Sentra), the 200SX didn't feel particularly Malaise-y, and it even came with a Sky Roof! It wanted you to open it up and watch its moves!
@brandegee: Agreed, it's comparing apples to roller-coaster squatting oranges, but my point was that there is nothing available in this day and age that gets the kind of mileage the small and mid-size cars from the late '70s through early '90s were able to achieve.
Now, I realize that we are saddled with a lot of mandated weight on our cars today, and I'd much rather get T-boned in that 23MPG Altima than a '79 200 SX, but I really would like to have some high-mileage options in the market these days, and not just $30K toyota Prius'.