When you’re planning on putting miles under your belt with a vehicle, having the most fuel-efficient car makes all the difference. Not only does fuel-efficiency help you save at the pump and put money back into your pocket, it also helps minimize your carbon footprint. Win-win!
Of course, when you are buying or even renting a vehicle, numerous factors play into your final decision. These factors include safety, price, size, utility and additional luxury features (such as heated seats and sunroofs). Once you start homing in on the exact price range you’ll be shopping in, you can then look to prioritize how fuel-efficient the car is.
Though nearly every vehicle manufacturer is moving toward creating more fuel-efficient cars, brands such as Toyota, are leading the charge, with Consumer Reports tagging five Toyota models to be included in their top ten most fuel-efficient cars in 2019.
When it comes to fuel-efficient cars, there isn’t a lot to choose from in the economy price range. Often, the model only becomes superbly fuel-efficient when you upgrade the system to a hybrid version of the car. Nonetheless, the Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai Sonata and Chevrolet Cruze offer a lot of bang for your buck.
Starting at $13,050, this car is the most affordable you’ll see on this list. Thankfully, Chevrolet put a lot of design effort into this little vehicle to make it worth your consideration. Packed with plenty of technology for enjoyment and safety, the Chevrolet Spark also manages to scoot around the city at 30 mpg and 38 mpg on the highway.
The Hyundai Sonata averages a solid 29 mpg with the SE model, though the Eco model is able to squeeze a little more efficiency out of the system, getting an average of 31 miles mpg. The versatile car enters the market at a very reasonable price of about $19,000. That price can significantly jump as you look at models other than the SE.
The Chevrolet Cruze is available as a sedan and as a hatchback, with the sedan starting at $17,850 and the hatchback coming in at a base level of $22,195. However, if getting the most fuel-efficient car is your primary goal, then you’ll need to upgrade from the 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine to the 1.6L Turbo Diesel 4-cylinder engine. By going with the diesel model, you’re able to score 41 mpg overall and an outstanding 60 mpg on the highway.
This is where you’ll find the majority of your most fuel-efficient vehicles. These cars are designed for middle and upper-middle class folks who aren’t a fan of needlessly burning money every time they go to the grocery store.
The Toyota Prius hybrid puts gas guzzlers and even gas sippers to shame, as it can last up to 58 city miles and 53 highway miles per gallon. When traveling less than 25 mph, the car can run entirely on electric. Two other variations of the Prius made Consumer Reports’ list, the Prius Prime, which can run about 23 miles on electric only, and the smaller, cheaper, Toyota Prius C.
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid comes in three models varying in price range: Blue, Sel, and Limited. The city and highway miles combine to result in what they claim are industry-leading numbers, with 58 mpg, 55 mpg and 55 mpg respectively.
The Toyota Camry is able to hang in the top ten of this list of the most fuel-efficient cars as a mid-sized vehicle, despite running on a standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. Despite this handicap, the car still manages to book an impressive 32 mpg overall. Though you’ll take a bit of a hit on fuel efficiency, it’s possible to get the Camry with a 2.5-liter V6. Or, if you want to bump up the number of miles you book between fill-ups, you can upgrade to the hybrid LE, which gets 47 mpg.
The Chevrolet Malibu leads the charge for fuel efficiency along with the Chevrolet Cruze. These are currently some of the most fuel-efficient cars manufactured by U.S. brands. The Malibu is competitive among mid-sized sedans, while the Cruze holds its own in the compact car world.
The standard four-cylinder turbo engine in the Malibu is only capable of getting an average of 29 mpg. However, the hybrid version, which utilizes some of the Chevrolet Volt’s technology, scores an impressive 41 mpg overall.
The standard Ford Fusion can’t compete in the way of fuel efficiency – it does about 25-27mpg on average. However, the Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid both arrived on the scene with some game, pulling in an average of 42 mpg. Unfortunately, the difference in cost between the Ford Fusion and the hybrid version is steep, with the Hybrid starting at $27,555, while the standard is only $22,850.
Luxury cars are built with things besides fuel-efficiency as a top priority, unless they’re an electric car, such as the Telsa Model X, which starts at nearly $80,000. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean all of them (or even most of them) are gas guzzlers. In fact, there are plenty of luxury cars that get between 35 and 42 mpg, with the Jaguar XF leading the charge.
The stunning Jaguar XF 20d (A8) RWD Sedan, with its powerful diesel engine, puts you in the lap of luxury for a base price of about $50,000. With 42 mpg on the highway, this sleek vehicle books a combined 35 mpg. Part of this boost in fuel-efficiency in this model comes from Jaguar lightening the load on the XF.
When considering fuel-efficient cars…
Though getting the most fuel-efficient car might not be your top priority when it comes to buying or renting a vehicle, it should be at the top of your list (assuming you’ve got safety covered). In some cases, such as with the Ford Fusion, you’ll be shelling out extra cash for the hybrid version of the car. But in the long run you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Do you have any preferences among the most fuel-efficient cars listed? Tell us why in the comment section below!
In the market for a new car? Learn about the AAA Auto Buying Program.
This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.