With gasoline at record-setting prices, it’s natural to look at vehicles with good gas mileage. With this in mind, we’ll explore new gas-efficient cars (according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). We’ll also look at the best fuel-efficient used cars.
Before diving into the details, let’s answer a frequent question, “What is good gas mileage?” Unfortunately, this isn’t addressed with a few numbers. In short, it depends on the vehicle. While 41 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway is an impressive performance from the Kia Rio sedan, it won’t do you much good if driving duties require hauling around six or seven people.
So, think of good gas mileage as how it relates to the vehicle you need. For example, in the case of a minivan, the best non-hybrid fuel economy comes from either a Chrysler Pacifica or Honda Odyssey (both get 28 mpg on the highway). Yes, Rio’s gas mileage is exceptional, but it won’t help much if one or two people can’t come along.
For 2022 models, here’s a summary of good gas mileage cars (by category). These are the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars.
|Toyota Avalon XLE
|MINI Cooper Convertible
|Mazda MX-5 Miata
|Kia Soul Eco
|RAM 1500 HFE
|Chrysler Voyager/Pacifica, Honda Odyssey (tie)
|Ford Transit Connect
While hybrid technology isn’t available for every vehicle type, these systems can provide significant fuel savings. Here are the best gas-sipping hybrids for the 2022 model year. For simplicity, these are vehicles without plug-in capability.
|Hyundai Ioniq Blue
|Toyota Prius Eco
|Lexus ES 300h
|Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE
|BMW M440i Coupe
|Audi A5 Cabriolet
|Lexus LC 500h
|Kia Niro FE
|Ford Maverick HEV
|Lexus UX 250h
Now that we’ve covered the best fuel-efficient cars for the 2022 model year, let’s check out the most fuel-efficient used cars. We’ll look at examples from 2010-2016 (mpg and other specs may vary by model year). Any mpg references come from the EPA and refer to when that particular vehicle was new. Fuel economy details are shown as combined/city/highway. For example, 39/36/42 means a combined mpg of 39, a 36 city mpg, and 42 mpg on the highway.
There’s nothing wrong with a basic car that saves gas while getting you from point A to point B without any fuss or fanfare.
This five-door hatchback won’t win any races, but it will help budget-minded drivers stay away from gas stations as long as possible. The Mirage’s spartan interior is no surprise given the vehicle’s “cheap car” mission. Likewise, the tiny 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine is all about sipping gas, as proven by impressive mpg rankings that approach hybrid cars.
Sadly, Honda discontinued the capable Fit hatchback after 2020. But, this subcompact five-seater is readily available in the used car market. Its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine offers peppy performance while still taking it easy on the gas tank. The Fit gets high marks for typical Honda build quality and a surprisingly spacious and functional interior.
Another victim of automaker cutbacks, the Mazda 2, is also only available in the pre-owned form. The car blends Mazda’s highly regarded driving characteristics and road manners with a stylish five-door hatchback body. Like the Mistubishi Mirage, there’s not a lot of cargo space, but a quick flip of the rear seat is fine for the occasional trip to the home improvement store.
Not every small-car shopper wants a used hatchback, and fortunately, smaller sedans still exist.
Despite VW’s Dieselgate controversy, the Jetta and similar TDI-powered cars represent solid results when it comes to fuel economy (and VW offers no-charge emissions fix for affected cars). Aside from the TDI Diesel engine, the Jetta offers a crisp, upscale exterior, a generous cabin that can fit five in a pinch, and a luggage-capable trunk.
You’re forgiven for being unfamiliar with the Scion brand. It was Toyota’s short-lived attempt at reaching young car buyers. But, Scion-branded cars offer something different for a buyer that doesn’t want a Corolla. The iA is actually the sedan version of the Mazda 2 hatchback (and built by Mazda, too), so it has driving dynamics similar to the 2.
Tiny but mighty is the best way to describe the Fiesta SFE sedan (there’s also a five-door hatchback version). Not only does this diminutive Ford offer stellar gas mileage, but the turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine offers a fun driving experience. Careful control of the five-speed manual transmission enables tire chirping and engaging acceleration when the stoplight turns green.
Searching for the best fuel-efficient luxury cars includes numerous choices that provide upscale accommodations with minimal stops at the pump. Hint: it’s an all-Diesel, all-German lineup.
BMW’s venerable 3 Series with a Diesel combines impressive fuel economy with legendary handling. Plus, casual observers would be hard-pressed to tell this car is not powered by a conventional gas engine. The turbocharged four-cylinder Diesel offers a peppy driving experience with mileage usually associated with smaller economy cars.
A notch below the 3 Series in size, the Audi A3 (in Diesel configuration) shares a 2.0-liter engine with its Jetta TDI cousin. So the A3 Diesel offers an alternative for sedan shoppers who might think that the Jetta is too plain Jane.
If the BMW or Audi Diesel isn’t your cup of tea, check out a Mercedes-Benz E250 Bluetec. It’s larger than these rivals, and 42 mpg on the highway is impressive for any vehicle. Among quintessential German executive sedans, an E-Class ranks with the BMW 5 Series.
More Reading: Diesel vs. Gasoline: All You Need to Know.
You don’t have to pay extra at the pump if you need room for five and cargo, as virtually every automaker offers a compact SUV. We use “SUV” as a generic term for a raised wagon-like utility vehicle with five doors. For more details, read SUV Vs. Crossover: What’s The Difference?
Mazda gets high marks for giving the CX-5 car-like qualities. It won’t handle like a Mustang or a Porsche, but this Mazda feels more engaging behind the wheel. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a front-wheel-drive setup and six-speed manual transmission offers the best fuel economy. Versions with the larger 2.5-liter engine, all-wheel drive, and an automatic gearbox will exact a mileage penalty.
Build it, and they will come. Well, that’s what Nissan did with the Rogue, which continues to be the automaker’s best seller. While the Rogue doesn’t have one area of particular distinction, it’s better known for doing most things well. That means good cabin space, decent gas mileage, and admirable handling. Stick to the front-drive version to maximize fuel economy.
Of course, any list of fuel-efficient SUVs has to include a Honda CR-V. It’s not as sporty to drive as the Mazda, but even when equipped with all-wheel drive, the CR-V’s mileage almost matches a front-driver CX-5 (and ties the Rouge). This Honda gets bonus points for a spacious back seat and excellent cargo space.
People don’t buy pickups to save on gas, but that doesn’t mean some models aren’t better on the wallet than others. For these purposes, we’ll skip most full-sized offerings (Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and GMC Sierra) in favor of primarily smaller trucks.
30 mpg on the highway is impressive for most vehicles, but kudos go out to Chevy for putting a turbocharged four-cylinder Diesel engine in a medium-sized pickup (its corporate cousin, the GMC Canyon, also comes similarly equipped). The Duramax Diesel’s horsepower (181) may not impress, but the stump-pulling 369 lb-ft of torque will.
You’ll need to head back to the previous generation of the Ford Ranger for better mileage (the latest Ranger is much larger). A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine won’t excite anyone, but it gets the job done without drama. As with all trucks, rear-wheel-drive drinks less fuel than four-wheel drive.
A careful review of the 1500 HFE’s mileage numbers reveals results almost approaching the Colorado Diesel. It’s an impressive effort, especially considering that the RAM 1500 is a full-sized truck. But, that’s the advantage of a Diesel engine in these types of vehicles. The HFE uses a turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder Diesel.
Pickup Shopping? Check out The Ultimate Pickup Truck Buyer’s Guide.
It’s not fair to have a conversation about the most fuel-efficient cars without talking about hybrids. So, let’s look at how this technology helps at the gas station. As plug-in hybrids are relatively new, we’ll cover traditional hybrid vehicles.
If one look at the Prius Eco’s mpg numbers doesn’t impress, then maybe it’s time to just go for an all-electric vehicle. Add in that this Toyota can run on regular gas, and you’re looking at a car with extremely low operating costs. Plus, up to 633 miles of range makes driving past the pump easy.
To avoid having this section dominated by the Toyota Prius, we stretched the search parameters to include newer models. Hyundai’s Ioniq Blue four-door hatchback tops the stalwart Prius on mileage, especially highway travel.
The gas mileage for a Toyota Camry gets exceptional when hybrid technology finds a place under the hood. While not quite as good mpg-wise as what a Prius offers, a Camry, on the other hand, benefits from conventional looks. Perfect for someone who prefers not to stand out in a crowd.
Learn More: Toyota Prius 101: All The Basics You Need To Know.
The need for three rows doesn’t have to cause too much pain during fill-up time.
The CX-9’s last row may not work for basketball players, but it can easily handle grade-schoolers. And its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine won’t win any races, but that’s the price to pay for one of the most fuel-efficient three-row crossovers on the road.
It’s hard to top the Pilot when it comes to a spacious three-row vehicle that’s not too big. Occupants enjoy plenty of legroom, and the high roofline creates a bright and airy cabin. A 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine offers a nice balance between performance and fuel economy. The front-wheel-drive version sips the least amount of fuel, as we’ve said before.
The Explorer is one of the foundational vehicles that helped launch the SUV craze. Looking at the fifth generation, the Explorer holds its own against the Pilot. But, it relies on a turbocharged four-cylinder engine to max out fuel economy.
Whether you’re shopping for a pre-owned car, SUV, or truck, the professionals at Trust Auto can help you find the perfect fuel-efficient vehicle. Stop by our conveniently located dealership in Sykesville, Maryland, or shop completely online.
Posted Monday, March 14, 2022