With gas prices on the rise, many car buyers are asking “What are the cheapest vehicles to fuel?” Are the most fuel efficient cars really worth it, or are the numbers just good enough to top their competitors?
Most Efficient Small Car: Volkswagen Diesels
Three cars, one engine, one platform and one fuel rating: The VW Golf, VW Jetta, and Audi A3 diesels all get 30 city and 42 highway MPG. Think of it as one car in hatchback, sedan, and luxury wagon flavors. However, with diesel selling for more than gasoline, it may be cheaper to burn a little more fuel in the Hyundai Elantra, rated at 29 city and 40 highway MPG.
Most Efficient Family Sedan: Hyundai Sonata
When it finally reaches dealerships, the Hyundai Sonata will be hands down the most fuel efficient family sedan at 35 city and 40 highway MPG. Until then, the Sonata equipped with the normally-aspirated 4-cylinder and 6 speed manual holds the top spot at 24 city and 35 highway MPG.
Of course, this begs the question “Who buys a family sedan with a manual transmission?” The automatic Honda Accord 4-cylinder loses just 1MPG in the city and highway ratings over the manual Hyundai.
Most Efficient Full-Size Truck: Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra Hybrid 2WD
The practicality of full-size trucks has kept them at the top of U.S. sales for decades, but their size doesn’t mean they have to use a lot of fuel. The Chevy and GMC are rated 20 city and 23 highway MPG despite having GM’s 6.0l 332hp V8 under the hood. Unfortunately, the trucks are only available with a crew cab and short bed. Those looking for more configuration choices may want to check out Ford’s Ecoboost F-150 rated at 16 city and 22 highway MPG.
Most Efficient SUV: Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD
Although getting long in the tooth, the Escape has been a perennial favorite thanks to its roomy interior and truckish looks. The pair of hybrids manage to get 34 city and 31 highway MPG: Their nearest competitor, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2WD, gets the same highway MPG, but gets 10 MPG less in town due to its non-hybrid drivetrain.
Cheapest to Fuel: Nissan Leaf
How do you estimate how much fuel an electric car uses? The EPA has the “MPGe” rating with “e” standing for “equivalent” to help buyers compare electric vehicles to internal combustion vehicles. The Leaf is rated under this system as getting 106 city and 92 highway MPGe. At the U.S. average price for electricity of $0.11 per kWh, the Leaf will cost a little less than $3 to recharge for a range of 80-100 miles.
The Chevy Volt is a little less efficient using batter power, getting just 95 city 90 highway MPGe. However, once the battery has been drained after 30-40 miles of driving, a gas engine allows continued travel at 35 city and 40 highway MPG.