With gas prices on the rise again, many car shoppers are searching for the most fuel-efficient vehicles. CNET is here to help with its list of cars with the best gas mileage or longest electric range. This year’s models offer some of the best gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in electric drivetrains to date. An updated Toyota Prius leads the pack and the Highlander is surprisingly efficient. Tesla and BMW are taking opposite approaches to solve range anxiety. Tesla is forging ahead with a Supercharger network spanning the country. BMW is offering internal combustion “range extenders” (engines) that can power its electric cars in a pinch.
2021 Toyota Prius Prime: one of the cars with the best gas mileage upgrades to a plug-in
The Toyota Prius is the original efficient car. But it didn’t make CNET’s 2021 list for nostalgic reasons. The Japanese automaker has stayed with the times, upgrading the beloved Prius to a plug-in electric vehicle with the available Prius Prime drivetrain. The 2021 Prius Prime is one of the most compelling automobiles available. It offers enough all-electric range for most people’s daily commute. Its gasoline hybrid drivetrain ensures it is also always ready for a road trip. It is also one of the cars with the best gas mileage in its class. Here’s the Prius Prime by the numbers:
- 83 city/72 highway MPG (78 combined)
- 25-mile battery range
- 640-mile combined range
2021 BMW i3 (Range Extender): EV with a retro twist
While the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime is a gasoline hybrid with an optional plug-in battery, the i3 is the exact opposite. The 2021 BMW i3 is an electric vehicle, but when you select the “Range Extender” option, BMW adds a two-cylinder gasoline engine to the vehicle. The plug-in hybrid package does not have a huge overall range. But unlike all-electric i3’s, you can fill it up at any gas station. BMW has made the i3 since 2013 but is finally discontinuing the electric car next year to make room for new EVs. If you want an i3, you had better buy it now.
- 92 city/ 79 highway mpg (86 combined)
- 126-mile battery range
- 200-mile combined range
2021 Tesla Model X Long Range Plus
The Tesla Model X is a beloved electric vehicle that shows no signs of slowing down. The iconic SUV with its gullwing doors always offered a longer range than many EVs. But the new Long Range Plus package pushes the limits of what an EV can do. This next evolution of the Model X aims to put range anxiety to bed for good. Pair that with Tesla’s coast-to-coast Supercharger network and the switch to electric has never looked more compelling.
- 109 city/101 MPGe highway (105 combined)
- 371 mile range
2021 Toyota Highlander: SUV with the best gas mileage
There are many SUVs with an available third row on the market. But not many of them put fuel efficiency first and foremost. The incredible Highlander Hybrid puts Toyota on CNET’s efficiency list again. This SUV offers all-wheel-drive, plenty of cargo space, or seating for eight people. Best of all, it gets the best fuel economy in its class. CNET points out that its fuel mileage is equal to what compact cars bragged about just a few years ago:
- 35 city/35 highway MPG (35 combined)
- 598-mile range
Conclusion: 2022 will be a whole new year.
CNET’s 2021 efficiency winners are some of the best optimized electric and hybrids on the market. But a pack of new, efficient vehicles is hot on their heels. The launch edition of the 2022 Lucid Air boasts an unprecedented 520 mile all-electric range. The world’s first production electric truck debuted from Rivian. Toyota will even launch a hybrid drivetrain Tundra full-size truck.