8 Most Fuel-Efficient New Cars by EPA Size Class
The U.S. Department of Energy (USDoE) publishes fuel economy data for most production passenger vehicles. These are the eight most fuel-efficient non-electric cars on the list. Despite the incredible gas mileage of these vehicles, the financial barrier to entry is actually relatively low.
The 2022 Mazda MX-5 is another great Miata in a long line of Miatas. The 2022 model year benefits from the 2019 refresh that gave it a 7,500 rpm redline and brought the power and torque to 181 hp and 151 lb-ft, respectively. The Miata starts at $27,650 and, despite its legendary performance, still manages to get a combined 30 mpg.
If you don’t follow the mantra “Miata is always the answer,” the 2022 Mini Cooper Convertible is another efficient drop-top option. Starting at $27,900, the Mini is only a $300 jump from the Miata’s base price. However, the Mini is slightly less thirsty, returning 32 mpg combined.
The little convertible has a unique 1.5L 3-cylinder turbocharged motor that makes 134 hp and 162 lb-ft. Unfortunately, you don’t get GR Corolla power levels, but you get higher quality interior materials and a great little toy for the backroads. It should be noted that the car on this list is fitted with the 7-speed DCT. The Cooper Convertible offers a 6-speed manual, but you are penalized a few mpg.
The 2022 Chevrolet Spark may be in the last year of its existence, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an economical vehicle. The Spark is offered with either a 5-speed manual or a CVT. All trims offer a combined 33 mpg, but the manual gets a 1 mpg penalty in city driving. Similarly, the Activ trim gets a similar 1 mpg penalty for its highway rating.
The Spark is small and cheaply built, but they start at only $14,595. In the current market, the Spark is one of the few vehicles with a sub $20k MSRP, so even at $17,595 (starting at $14,595 ) for the Activ trim, you’re getting quite a lot for the money. What you aren’t getting a lot of is power. The Spark has a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder that only makes 98 hp and 94 lb-ft. Car and Driver suggest opting for the 5-speed manual and avoiding the Activ trim.
According to the U.S Department of Energy, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the third most efficient vehicle, with 52 mpg combined. The current generation Corolla is a Prius for those who don’t wish to be seen in a Prius. In hybrid guise, the Corolla utilizes the same 1.8-liter Atkinson-Cycle 4-cylinder and electric motor setup as the Prius. Though its 121 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque make for fairly conservative performance, the Corolla Hybrid is built to be the most efficient sedan. To get a nicely equipped Corolla Hybrid could be as much as $27,000, but prices start at a very reasonable $23,650.
Check out this article for more details on the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid.
The 2022 Toyota Prius Eco is the most efficient Prius lineup, with a combined 56 mpg. The Prius, like the Corolla Hybrid, uses the 1.8-liter electric motor combo that makes 121 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque. If you don’t mind driving the Prius, you get significantly more space than the Corolla for around the same price. The Prius Eco starts at $25,075.
The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq Blue is the most fuel-efficient non-electric vehicle on the market. Like the Chevrolet Spark, the Ioniq may have lived its last year, but that doesn’t mean the 59 combined mpg isn’t exceptional. Starting at $24,695, it just undercuts the Prius and has a bit more power with 139 hp and 109 lb-ft of torque. What makes the Ioniq unique in the world of CVTs is its 6-speed DCT, making for a marginally more sporty driving experience.
Small Station Wagons
The 2022 Kia Niro FE is very similar to the Ioniq. It uses the same 1.6L Kappa 4-cylinder engine, makes the same hp at 139, but produces significantly more torque at 195 lb-ft. The extra torque and cargo space provided by the Niro over the Ioniq is great, but you get slightly worse fuel economy at only 50 combined. The Niro starts at a very reasonable $24,690.
Large Station Wagons
The 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country B6 AWD is the most expensive car, with a starting price of $57,295. Not surprisingly, it is also the most luxurious, the biggest, and the most powerful. The V90’s party trick is its uniquely complicated drivetrain. The V90 B6 is equipped with Volvo’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder but is also fitted with a supercharger and a 48-volt hybrid system. Altogether, the V90 is good for 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Given the car’s size and power, the 25 combined miles per gallon rating is quite impressive.
Efficiency and fun are not mutually exclusive
This list clearly demonstrates that good fuel economy does not have to be expensive, nor does it need to be devoid of fun. Though the Prius, Ioniq, and Corolla Hybrid don’t scream fun, they will bring you incredible fuel savings. The Mini and the MX-5 can be exceptionally fun to drive and yet collectively cost less than a C8 Corvette.