The Most Efficient Car For City Driving Vs. Highway Driving

You often see gas mileage rated for city driving and highway driving. That’s because those are two totally different ways of tackling the road. One requires constant acceleration and braking, which burns more fuel, while the other has engines rev low for hours at a time. And while small city cars may have better mileage, their gas tanks aren’t big enough to tackle road trips. You wouldn’t want to take a city car on a long haul, and you wouldn’t want to drive a road tripper in the city. So which cars are best equipped to handle these different driving environments?

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is excellent for city driving
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage | Mitsubishi

The best car for the city: the Mistubishi Mirage

City driving is often slow, and the streets are often cluttered. That makes the small and somewhat lackluster Mitsubishi Mirage the most efficient city car you can get. With just 78 horsepower from a 1.2L three-cylinder engine, what it lacks in performance it makes up for in economy. Able to get 36 miles per gallon in the city (and 43 highway), it beats out the infamous Civic in terms of fuel efficiency. On top of that, the Mirage is dirt cheap.

Starting at just $15,565 ($16,565 if you don’t know how to drive a stick), it doesn’t have much, just a 7 inch infotainment screen and a cargo capacity better than that of the Chevy Spark. So for tooling around the city it’s a good pick. But its 9.2-gallon fuel tank means it’s only good for about 400 miles on the highway. And you probably don’t want to try accelerating up to 60mph in a car with just 78 horsepower. With that said, what’s the best car for the long haul?

The best car for the highway: the Ram 1500

Ram 1500 pickup truck at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on January 15, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.
The Ram 1500 | Scott Olson/Getty Images

You certainly wouldn’t want to drive this beast on narrow city roads, but on road trips, the Ram 1500 can just keep going. Granted, you have to purchase one with the 3.0L EcoDiesel engine if you want to get the best gas mileage: 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. While 32mpg doesn’t sound like much, but when paired to a 33-gallon fuel tank, the Ram 1500 can get over 1,000 miles (yes, 1,000 miles) on a single tank of gas. That makes this the most efficient car for long hauls, no questions asked. Just don’t look at the gas bill when you do have to fill up.

And that range is supplemented by an extremely capable truck. With 260 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, the Ram 1500 can tow upwards of 12,000lbs. That’d certainly affect the range, but if you ever needed to use it as a truck, you could use it as a truck. It all starts at just $33,000, featuring plenty of room for 4 and a bed capable of carrying 2,000lbs. You’ll have all the space you need for your friends and your stuff as you get from coast to coast in just 3 stops (4 stops if you take the long route).

But let’s say you don’t want a tiny hatch for the city, and you don’t want a large diesel truck for long highway drives. Luckily, there’s one car that’ll meet you in the middle.

The best of both worlds: the Hyundai Ioniq Blue

Hyundai Ioniq Blue Hybrid
Hyundai Ioniq Blue Hybrid | Hyundai

There’s no denying that hybrids can be more efficient in both city and highway scenarios. And the Hyundai Ioniq Blue beats out big-name competitors like the Toyota Prius when it comes to both city and highway efficiency. With 58 mpg in the city and 59 mpg on the highway, it’ll get you just over 700 miles of highway driving in a single fill-up thanks to the 12-gallon tank.

It also starts at just $23,000, making it an affordable sedan in general. With Apple CarPlay/Android Auto built-in, as well as a few safety features such as blind-spot detection, it’ll take on day to day life while using the least amount of gas possible. And Hyundai says that every 2021 Ioniq comes with 3 years of 36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance. In terms of bang for your buck, it doesn’t get much better than that.

So whether you’re driving a mile to the store, 1,000 miles across state lines, or somewhere in between, there’s a car out there with the best gas mileage for your lifestyle. And it’s ready to take you down whichever roads you choose.

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