If you're looking for the cars with the best gas mileage, your best bets are hybrids and EVs, and with the latter, then it's a case of energy efficiency considering the lack of gasoline. But maybe you don't like the idea of an electrified vehicle. Maybe you're concerned about more complicated powertrains or new technologies. Maybe you're put off by the extra up-front cost of those vehicles. So what's the best way to get good fuel economy, without batteries? Well, we've pulled together the 10 most fuel-efficient cars that only run on gasoline.
Mitsubishi Mirage: 39 mpg combined
When you can't be electrified, you need to achieve high efficiency with other strategies. In the case of the Mitsubishi Mirage, those come from low weight (just 2,084 pounds) and low power (just 78 horsepower). That's how the Mirage manages to top the list at 39 mpg combined. In the city it gets 36 mpg, and on the highway it manages 43, both of which are tops in this list, too. That just applies to the hatchback, though. The sedan would technically be second on the list with 37 mpg combined, but we're generally lumping together body styles.
The other big draw of the Mirage is that it's incredibly cheap and has a long warranty. The base hatchback starts at $18,110 with destination, making it one of the cheapest cars on the road. And it has a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. So if you're looking for maximum frugality above literally all else, it's hard to top the Mirage.
Honda Civic: 36 mpg combined
While the Mirage wins technically, it makes many compromises to achieve its price and fuel economy. The rest of the list provides far better balancing of economy with being quality modern automobiles. And coming in second is the Honda Civic sedan in EX trim with the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder and CVT. This variant manages 33 mpg in the city, 42 on the highway and 36 combined. Going to the Touring trim drops fuel economy to 34 combined, and the 2.0-liter non-turbo engine gets between 33 and 35. The most efficient hatchback gets 35 mpg combined. The hatch is even available with a manual transmission, but it's also the least efficient (31 mpg).
Then there's the Si and Type R, but with much more power and handling upgrades, they're basically different models. Regardless, almost every version of the Civic is quite frugal. But, and in particular the turbo engine, the Civic is smooth, peppy enough, comfortable and handles well. Plus it has a huge cabin for its class and good cargo space. The hatchback is naturally the most practical. There's a reason we call it the best compact car.
Hyundai Elantra: 36 mpg combined
Nearly tying the Civic is the Elantra. The CVT-equipped 2.0-liter SE model has the same combined mileage, though at 32 city and 41 highway, it's a little bit behind in those specific categories. Higher trims dip to 34 mpg combined. But otherwise, the Elantra does basically everything the Civic does with loads of space and impressive refinement. It's a bit slow with just a 147-horsepower naturally aspirated engine, and it's not quite as engaging to drive. But otherwise, the Elantra is another excellent small sedan choice, regardless of fuel economy. We're not discussing the N Line and N models that get notably worse fuel economy and are arguably different models.
Kia Rio: 36 mpg combined
In an actual tie, the Kia Rio matches the Hyundai Elantra with the same combined fuel economy, as well as city and highway (32, 41). That applies to both the sedan and hatchback. And being a subcompact competing with the Mirage, it's very cheap, starting at just under $18,000. With a small body and 120 horsepower, it's peppy, and it has surprisingly engaging handling. Basically, it's far less compromised than the Mirage, and thus a better choice for the segment.
Toyota Corolla: 35 mpg combined
Next up is the Toyota Corolla, and in SE trim with its 2.0-liter four-cylinder, it gets 35 mpg combined, 32 in the city and 41 on the highway. That puts it nearly tied with the Elantra, though with more horsepower. Fuel economy does dip to 34 combined with higher trims. Impressively, the hatchback matches the sedan in most trims, with the XSE dipping to 33 mpg combined. That's certainly appreciated as the hatchback offers some extra versatility with cargo capability. The Corolla is a rather sporty-looking thing and isn't too bad to drive. Though the engine is a bit coarse, and the interior is a bit small compared to the Honda and Hyundai.
Nissan Versa: 35 mpg combined
Once again, we have another close competitor in fuel economy with 35 mpg combined. In the city the Nissan Versa gets 32, and on the highway it gets 40. This is another rare vehicle available with a manual transmission, though it comes with a big hit to fuel economy, dropping to 30 combined. The Versa is also extremely cheap, competing in the subcompact space against the Mitsubishi Mirage. The manual one is actually cheaper, starting just over $17,000, and adding the CVT bumps it to just over $19,000. While it may not be as efficient as the Mirage, it's a far nicer vehicle to drive. In fact, it's a surprisingly comfortable and refined car for this price point. It's still not quick, but it feels like a solid car.
Volkswagen Jetta: 34 mpg combined
The sole German representative here is the Jetta. And for once, the top 34 mpg combined rating applies to both the automatic and manual models. The auto gets 30 mpg city and 41 on the highway, and the manual gets 29 city and 42 highway. Higher automatic trims get 33 combined. The Jetta also happens to be the most efficient manual car on the market. We also learned not too long ago that the plain, manual Jetta is surprisingly enjoyable. Its turbo engine punches above its rated output, and the car is one of the most quiet and comfortable cars in its class. It also manages to retain just enough handling prowess to be fun in that regard, too. With a base price of right around $23,000, it's affordable, too.
Kia Forte: 34 mpg combined
Kia appears again, this time with the larger Forte compact sedan. It's closely related to the Elantra, using the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder and CVT. On the base trim, you get the maximum 34 mpg combined, with 30 city and 41 on the highway. The other trims drop to 32 combined. There's a turbocharged 1.6-liter GT trim, but that's almost a whole other model with that engine (sort of like the Civic Si and Type R, or the Elantra N, that we left out in discussion of the Honda and Hyundai above), and it of course gets worse fuel economy. The Forte isn't a particularly exciting vehicle, but it gets the job done admirably, and it's also seriously cheap for the segment, coming in at just $21,000.
Nissan Sentra: 34 mpg combined
Just as the Forte is the bigger option to the Rio, the Nissan Sentra is the bigger option to the Versa. Most versions of it have the listed 34 mpg combined with 30 in the city and 40 on the highway. The SR gets 33 combined. It has a clean, handsome design, and the interior in particular is a standout for the segment. It handles decently and is fairly comfortable. Its 149 horsepower, though, feels sluggish, and the CVT doesn't help. But like the Forte, the Sentra is cheap with a $22,000 base price.
Nissan Kicks: 33 mpg combined
Wrapping up this list is the sole crossover: the Nissan Kicks. Calling it a crossover is arguably generous, as it doesn't offer all-wheel drive, but we call the Chevy Trax a crossover, too, and it's the same deal. In many ways, the Kicks is basically a Versa hatchback. It's definitely slow, and there's no manual option. But it is comfortable, and even more so, it's practical. The cargo space is shockingly generous, and the rear seat is even fairly livable. In addition to the 33 mpg combined, it gets 31 in the city and 36 on the highway.
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