5 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars According to KBB

Though gas prices across the country are slowly coming down, fuel economy remains an important factor in finding the best car. Luckily, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) has compiled lists of the most fuel-efficient models in every category for 2022. Here’s which models took the top spot in each category for cars. 

Most fuel-efficient convertible: 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata

The MX-5 Miata has a reputation as a fun-to-drive convertible at an appealing price point. It is powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder generating 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. That power unit also gets great gas mileage. It does differ slightly depending on the transmission; the standard manual transmission is rated for 26 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 34 on the highway and the optional automatic is rated for 26 and 35. It narrowly edges out the BMW Z4 (28 mpg combined) for the top spot on Kelley Blue Book’s list.

It’s one of the most fuel-efficient cars of 2022 despite being a gas-powered convertible. KBB highlights the styling, thrills behind the wheel, and impressive manual transmission. The MX-5 Miata is not the best option for taller drivers and those looking for lots of cargo space.

Most fuel-efficient coupe: 2022 BMW 4 Series

The BMW 4 Series, like the MX-5 Miata, is one of the most fuel-efficient cars of 2022 while also being a fun car to drive behind the wheel. The base 430i packs 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque into a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. There are two options for the 430i: rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (xDrive). The rear-wheel drive 430i gets 25 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway for a combined 28 mpg. The xDrive’s numbers are slightly lower at 23 and 33 to end up at 27 combined. 

Those fuel economy numbers do not change with a more powerful engine. The M440i’s turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder gives you the same figures — 25 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined — as the rear-wheel drive 430i. And that’s at 382 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque, the biggest power figures on this list. The BMW 4 Series beats out the BMW 2 Series for the top spot on the list of most fuel-efficient coupes. KBB reviewers highlight the engine choices, sporty driving quality, and body style options as the best aspects of the 4 Series. 

Most fuel-efficient hatchback: 2022 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

The first hybrid of this list comes from Hyundai’s hatchback Ioniq. There are three options for the Ioniq: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric. The hybrid model is one of the most fuel-efficient cars of 2022, challenging the likes of the iconic Toyota Prius.

All Ioniq Hybrid trims are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a 32kW electric motor to produce a total of 139 horsepower. That’s the lowest power figure on the list, but it gives you some of the best fuel economy numbers on the market. The Ioniq Hybrid Blue trim gets a combined 59 mpg (58 city, 60 highway). That’s well clear of the Prius and at a slightly lower starting price ($23,600 to the Prius’ $24,500).

KBB reviewers say the fuel economy figures are remarkable on the Ioniq Hybrid. Combine that with some of the best warranties on the market, impressive cargo space, and a reasonable price tag and the Ioniq Hybrid’s one of the best choices for fuel efficiency on the market.

Most fuel-efficient sedan: 2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

Hyundai takes another top spot on KBB’s lists with the Elantra Hybrid. Like the Ioniq Hybrid, the Elantra Hybrid has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor to produce 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Blue trim has the best fuel economy figures at 54 combined mpg (53 city, 56 highway). That takes the top spot of the non-fully electric vehicles over the Toyota Camry Hybrid at 52 combined mpg.

The fuel-efficient powertrain and attractive styling set the Elantra Hybrid apart in the class, per KBB reviewers. Inside the cabin, there’s plenty of room for a compact sedan and, despite the hybrid powertrain, there’s plenty of room in the trunk. KBB is not alone in its praise for the Elantra, either. TrueCar named it the best compact car of 2022 and 2023. 

Most fuel-efficient wagon: 2023 Kia Niro

Pictured is the 2023 Kia Niro, one of the most fuel efficient car of 2022
2023 Kia Niro | Kia
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Like the two Hyundai models on this list, the Kia Niro uses a 1.6-liter gas-electric hybrid engine to become one of the most fuel-efficient cars of 2022. The hybrid engine generates 139 combined horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, like the Elantra Hybrid, and the base LX trim gets a combined 53 mpg. All Niro models are hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric. 

There’s a lot to like beyond fuel economy in the Kia Niro. KBB reviewers point to the exterior styling — fully redesigned for 2023 — and the upscale cabin as other strong points. It does this while thoroughly outpacing other wagons in fuel economy; the Subaru Impreza is the next-best at 31 combined mpg. 

What is the most fuel-efficient car of 2022?

The most fuel-efficient car on this list from KBB is the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid. At up to 59 combined mpg, those numbers are very hard to beat. If you’re looking for 50+ mpg figures, the Elantra Hybrid and Niro both offer plenty of space, style, and comfort. But they won’t be nearly as fun behind the wheel as the MX-5 Miata or BMW 4 Series. Those two fall short in fuel economy but are a better option for driving experience.