22 Cars with the Best Fuel Economy—and 5 with the Worst
With gas prices fluctuating more than ever and long road trips never more enticing, fuel-efficient cars are in demand. Here are the most—and least—fuel-efficient cars on the road today.
Most Fuel Efficient Hatchbacks
BMW i3 Giga
It technically ranks as the most fuel-efficient per a new Consumer Reports survey, and the way Car and Driver describes the i3’s Giga World package with its, “eucalyptus wood trim, leather-and-wool seating surfaces, and 19-inch wheels,” sounds eco-luxurious but this pricey electric BMW also comes standard with a heavy dose of range anxiety (fear that you won’t make it to your destination before your charge runs out). With a base price of $44, 450 and six-hours needed to fully charge before you start using another 153 miles of driving range, you may find yourself wishing there was a less-sexy eco-friendly vehicle in your driveway instead.
Toyota Prius Prime
The best-selling PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) year-to-date according to InsideEvs.com offers not only class-leading fuel-efficiency but also a long list of famous Toyota safety features and, surprisingly, ample cargo space for a small hatchback. However, those benefits come at a cost, specifically $27,350 for a base model Prius Prime, which while lofty compared to non-hybrid hatchbacks, is, in fact, comparable to its eco-peer group according to US News & World Report. Great gas mileage and guaranteed to last a long time? The Toyota Prius is one of the cars that will last you 250,000 miles.
Most Fuel Efficient Subcompact Cars
Mitsubishi Mirage ES
Fuel-efficiency at a low cost, would be the title of a Mitsubishi’s review but the very next line would reiterate, “but at a cost.” As Consumer Reports notes, “[the Mirage] rock-bottom sticker price (starting at under $14,000) and thrifty fuel economy of 37 mpg overall conjure an inviting image of an economical runabout. But that mirage quickly dissipates when driving this tiny, tinny car.” Most notably, this is because of a “weak, vibrating three-cylinder engine that delivers sluggish acceleration and a raspy chorus of lament, or the car’s clumsy handling.”
Per Motor Trend, you’ll appreciate the “nimble handling and forward collision avoidance tech that is standard,” and of course Toyota’s great fuel efficiency (35 mpg combined highway/city) all for a sub-$16,000 starting price. The Yaris is a terrific starter car that won’t break the bank at the dealer or at the pump—no surprise it’s one of the best car deals under $18,000.
Most Fuel Efficient Compact Cars
Chevrolet Cruze LT Diesel
To get the bonus mpg available in the LT Diesel edition of the Chevy Cruze, you must fork over roughly an additional $8,000 from the standard Cruze models. For that cost, you get marginally better fuel-efficiency that will likely only pay off if you drive for hundreds of thousands of miles. So yes, this model is the most fuel-efficient but probably not the most sensible on your pocketbook or wallet.
Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE
The Corolla is Toyota’s third-longest-serving nameplate, per Car and Driver, and as the trusted auto rag states, “consumers across much of the globe know pretty well what a Corolla is: an inexpensive and economical small car, sturdy and reliable but utterly devoid of frills and thrills.” And yet with its 2019 models, the Japanese manufacturer has aimed to spice up the life of its trusty ride. The result is a sportier Corolla hatchback that retains its stellar miles per gallon production. There’s nothing weird about a Toyota but the same cannot be said about these wacky cars.
Most Fuel Efficient Sports Cars
Mazda MX-5 Miata Club MT
According to Scott Evans, Motor Trend’s features editor, “[the Mazda MX-5 Miata Club] remains the best sports car for the money in the world, full stop. You cannot have more fun per dollar spent. They nailed it.” And he wasn’t even referring to the class-leading 34 combined mpg fuel-efficiency, which when added to the performance, look, comfort, and price (starting at $30,500), makes this Miata the greatest. Before you buy new, make sure the vehicle isn’t one of the cars depreciating the fastest!
Honda Civic Si
When comparing the Si trim to the Honda Civic Sport, Jalopnik says, “the Si may list at $3,150 more than the [Civic] Sport, but, it just pulls so much harder that the upgrade will feel worth it after one merge. And the Si doesn’t just add 47 HP and 54 lb-ft of torque. It also gets a limited-slip differential, much more supportive (and heated!) seats, a sunroof, a Sport mode button with a very tangible effect on suspension stiffness and steering weight, plus way more sporty nonsense like a shift light and throttle and brake position indicator.” Add in the fuel-efficiency of a combined 34 mpg and you have a fully satisfying Honda sports car.
Most Fuel Efficient Midsize Cars
Honda Accord Hybrid EX
With a base MSRP of just over $29,000 and a combined highway and city miles per gallon of 47, this sleek bullet of a midsize Honda offers consumers a handsome hybrid that blends in seamlessly with the traffic while keeping you away from the fuel pump more often than not.
Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
A complete redesign in 2019 has the trusted car site Auto Trader saying, “those who have previously dismissed the Camry as too conservative and boring, or who wrote off the Hybrid in particular for being dreary to drive or a poor value, it’s time to re-evaluate things. Its sharper handling, more composed ride and higher-quality interior result in a car that’s ultimately more competitive. Plus, the Camry’s traditional virtues of space, reliability, resale value and fuel economy have been maintained.” The LE trim’s 47 mpg make this popular Toyota even more attractive. A pre-owned Camry may be the best deal for you, here are cars you should—and shouldn’t—buy new.
Most Fuel Efficient Large Cars
Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE (42)
Of course, switching into it will diminish the industry best fuel-efficiency as “additional power is pulled from the hybrid system” per Motor Trend, but we love driving in the Avalon Hybrid‘s Sport mode (there are also Normal and Eco modes) during EV mode. Also worth loving are the premium accouterments on the XLE trim without sacrificing the money-saving 42 combined mpg. Thinking about leasing an Avalon? Find out the 11 things dealers won’t tell you about leasing first.
Just beating out the premium trim of the sneakily luxurious Kia Cadenza by a single mile-per-gallon, the Nissan Maxima wins with “comprehensively equipped, distinctive styling, robust engine” that offers “sufficient comfort to please a luxury buyer, enough athleticism to keep an enthusiast driver engaged, and ample gadgetry to appeal to tech connoisseurs” and is considered by Car and Driver to be a “modern, relatively comfortable, and quietly athletic sedan.”
Most Fuel-Efficient Upscale Luxury Cars
Tesla Model 3 Long Range
No surprise here as far as fuel-efficient luxury cars go, with Tesla taking the top two spots in Consumer Reports survey of mpg performance. The Model 3 Long Range delivers performance fitting of its name, with 325 miles of driving on a single charge available, which translates to 130 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) when compared to a non-electric vehicle.
Tesla Model S 100D
By focusing more on range than speed, Tesla “puts emphasis on going farther between recharges.” In fact, as Car and Driver goes on to note, “[this Model S version] boasts the longest EPA-estimated range of any current Tesla—and of any electric car—with its 335-mile rating, and with dual electric motors—one in the front and one in the rear—that supply a total of 483 horsepower.” In the end, expect 102 Miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) from this Tesla S 100D. Tesla has the best reputation of any car brand in America.
Most Fuel Efficient Small SUV
Chevrolet Equinox LT Diesel
An SUV, even a small one, that can deliver over 30-combined mpg needs to be considered when car shopping. The 5-seater Chevy Equinox LT Diesel does just that and all with a 1.6-liter turbo I-4 engine that produces an ample, if not exhilarating, 137-horsepower performance. Do you often forget which side of your car the gas tank is on? Here’s why all cars don’t have gas tanks on the same side.
Lexus NX 300h
The nearly 30 miles-per-gallon rating is respectable, and roomy seats comfortable, but US News & World Report dings this luxurious Lexus compact SUV for its underperforming engine, subpar cargo space, and awkward infotainment controls. The site goes on to add that, “many rivals have more energetic engines and superior handling,” while landing on a rather underwhelming “good” as the primary descriptive adjective for the NX Hybrid SUV.
Most Fuel Efficient Midsize/Large SUV
Tesla Model X 100D
As discussed with Model S 100D, the focus here is to take the comfort, class, tech, and reliability of the Model X and inject it with more range. According to Car and Driver, “[the X 100D] boasts an EPA-estimated 295 miles of range, thanks to its potent, 100.0-kWh battery pack tucked beneath the floor, making it the longest-range electrified crossover on the market. Most folks could probably skip any sort of overnight or workplace charging for a day or two.” The result, in fuel efficiency parlance, is 87 mpg equivalent performance.
Jaguar I-Pace HSE
Per Motor1.com, “as a full EV, the I-Pace nets a perfect fuel economy rating. According to the EPA, the I-Pace’s 90-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery carries enough electrons to cover 234 miles per charge.” That’s an impressive 76 miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe), however, the charging time may give consumers pause before ponying up a down payment. Jaguar’s I-Pace goes, “from zero to 80-percent charge on a 240-volt outlet in 10 hours, and zero to 80 percent in 85 minutes with 50-kilowatt charge rate at a DC fast charger.” Fuel efficiency is important but so is safety.
Most Fuel Efficient Minivan
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Regarding this sleek family car, AutoTrader says, “If you’re eco-conscious and seeking out a family hauler, there’s no better choice than the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Heck, there’s a case to be made that it’s actually the most appealing minivan, period—hybrid or not.” The range on electric-only is a big reason why this bold statement rings true—”this plug-in hybrid is capable of traveling 32 miles on electricity after its battery is recharged. For most people, that should be enough to drop the kids off at school, go to work, then pick them up again. As such, you’ll rarely need to fill up with gas. And even if you do exceed that 32-mile range, it’s still a hybrid that’ll greatly exceed every other minivan’s fuel economy” thanks to netting a combined 27 mpg on gas alone.
Honda Odyssey EX-L
The second-best minivan for fuel-efficiency delivers only 22 mpg combined highway and city, so clearly performance at the pump isn’t the primary concern of families looking for a comfortable people mover. Consumer Report’s runner-up, “packs in refinement, quietness, fuel economy, and a relatively intuitive infotainment system,” and has an “interior that’s very flexible, with the ability to slide the second-row outboard seats sideways.”
Most Fuel Efficient Pickup Trucks
Chevrolet Colorado LT Diesel
Called the “Swiss Army Truck” by Motor Trend, who also reports that, “the Colorado can do everything from off-road exploring and hefty towing to running school carpools.” The LT Diesel trim and engine nets a hefty 24 mpg according to the Consumer Reports fuel efficiency survey of pickup trucks, which is a substantial four miles per gallon better than the runner-up in this category.
Ford Ranger XLT
Blending a handsome exterior, comfortable interior, and rugged performance, the Ford Ranger XLT proudly takes the silver medal in this pickup truck fuel-efficiency competition. Not only will drivers enjoy 20 miles combined high and city per gallon of gas, but the Ranger also provides responsive voice-activated tech, available off-road 4×4 package and Ford’s innovative Co-Pilot360 blind spot driver-assist system.
Least Fuel Efficient Minivan
Dodge Grand Caravan GT
Already considered far from the most attractive minivan on the road, the Caravan GT brings up the rear of the Consumer Reports fuel efficiency ratings for family cars by delivering only 17 combined mpg when driving locally to and from school and the supermarket, as well as on the highway on long family road trips. (It’s no longer on the market, though other Caravans are.)
Least Fuel Efficient Upscale/Luxury Car
It is likely that if you can afford to spend six figures on a car, you’re not likely inclined to worry initially or at all about miles-per-gallon performance. Still, netting only 18 mpg locally thanks to an admittedly stunning 463-horsepower V8-engine should give even the fanciest of automotive consumers a moment’s pause about the Mercedes-Benz 560. After all, if you have $104,000 to spend, shouldn’t you at least consider a Tesla or the most luxurious of hybrid vehicles on the market?
Least Fuel Efficient Sports Car
Ford Mustang GT Premium V8
You know what you are getting when you’re shopping for and then driving a Mustang, and fuel efficiency isn’t it. That said, 19 mpg is better than you might expect for such a revved-up sports car and because you are likely not taking your GT on long road trips, you may actually not be filling her up too much despite its relative fuel inefficiency.
Least Fuel Efficient Hatchback
Miro Vrlik Photography/Shutterstock
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SE
A car that delivers mid-twenties in miles-per-gallon performance can only be considered poor when lined up against a peer group that likely can double the mpg efficiency. Sure, the VW Golf Alltrack provides just those 25 miles on each gallon but as Car and Driver says, “this wagon’s excellence shines through its SUV-inspired disguise.”
Least Fuel Efficient Midsized/Large SUV
With a staggeringly low 14 mpg on city streets, it can be argued rather convincingly that as we near the third decade of the supposedly smarter and greener 21st-century, the Nissan Armada (and similar vehicles) should not be on the road and should no longer be produced. A 28-gallon gas tank that will cost nearly $100 to fill (far more in certain states) yet only provide 400 miles of range, from a bulky SUV that initially will cost you upwards of $50,000, simply doesn’t add up anymore. Plus: Did you know you can do these 100 car maintenance tasks yourself? And you’ll save a ton of money, too!