Gasoline prices fell at the end of 2014, but don’t bet the farm they will stay that way for 2015. For now, the only way to guarantee you won’t be spending a ton of your monthly budget on gasoline is buying one of the most efficient cars on the market.
As you might guess, most are of the electrified variety, though one plug-in hybrid did make the list. Here are the 10 most efficient automobiles of the 2015 model year, according to the EPA ratings on Fueleconomy.gov. Only vehicles with a 2015 model count for this list. Any ties in fuel economy ratings were decided in favor of the vehicle with the higher city rating.
10. Chevrolet Volt
Chevy has a 2016 Volt in store for the Detroit Auto Show, but for now the 2015 model is efficient enough to claim 10th place for the 2015 model year. With 63 miles per gallon in the city and 61 miles per gallon in highway driving (for combined electric and gas use), the Volt remains a standout in economy. Its 38 miles of electric range give it the longest range of any plug-in hybrid for 2015.
9. Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive
At 85 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in the city and 82 miles per gallon in highway driving, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is a remarkable performer for a vehicle with 251 pounds-feet of torque. To guarantee the electric B-Class reduced emissions over its life cycle compared to a gasoline B-Class, independent testing agency TÜV made a detailed analysis of the two cars. The results proved emissions were reduced by 24% on the EU electricity grid and 64% on a hydroelectric grid. Electric range for the B-Class is 87 miles.
8. Ford Focus Electric
Ford’s low-volume electric model remains one of the country’s most efficient vehicles. The 2015 model is rated at 110 miles per gallon equivalent in the city and 99 miles per gallon in highway driving. Electric range is clocked at 76 miles. New 2015 Focus Electric models do not improve upon the prior model year’s numbers, but the prices are lower now than they have ever been. A Focus Electric now sells at $29,170 before any federal ($7,500) or state rebate is considered.
7. Kia Soul
In terms of overall economy, the 2015 Kia Soul EV ties the Focus Electric at 105 miles per gallon equivalent. For this list, the Soul EV gets the edge because of its impressive 120 miles per gallon in the city. After all, even with a range of 93 miles, these cars are basically city vehicles. Until they cross the 300-mile benchmark, we’ll continue to give the benefit of the doubt to electric vehicles with excellent city economy. For the record, a 2015 Soul EV gets 92 miles per gallon equivalent on the highway.
6. Smart Electric Drive Coupe (tie)
People can make fun of Smart cars for a variety of reasons, but fuel economy is not one of them. Two Smart models tied for fifth and sixth place among the most efficient automobiles of the 2015 model year. The Smart Electric Drive coupe is rated at 122 miles per gallon equivalent in the city and 93 miles per gallon on the highway. (If driving this car on the highway, please be very careful.) It all adds up to a combined 107 miles per gallon equivalent and 68 miles of range.
5. Smart Electric Drive Convertible (tie)
Drop the top on your cute little Smart Electric Drive and you have another fuel economy star. Just because you have the wind blowing through your hair doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a kilowatt of efficiency. You still get the 107 miles per gallon equivalent and 68 miles of range. You just do it in a sexier package. Who needs a Ferrari or a 2015 Mustang convertible? OK, maybe there are millions of people who prefer these cars, but in your Smart cabriolet you’ll never pay for gas again.
4. Nissan Leaf
In terms of efficiency, availability, value, and performance, there is no comparison for the Nissan Leaf. Holding down fourth place with 114 miles per gallon equivalent combined, the Leaf remains one of the two most-efficient cars that people car buy in auto markets across the country. (Others known as compliance cars often just sell in Oregon and California.) Perhaps this combination drove the Leaf to shatter the electric vehicle sales record in the U.S. in 2014.
3. Fiat 500e
Speaking of compliance cars, the Fiat 500e is “available only in California and Oregon at select Fiat studios.” For those with access, the little guy gets a remarkable 116 miles per gallon equivalent combined, which makes it second-best on the U.S. market. City driving is rated at 122 miles per gallon, while electric range is set at 87 miles by the EPA. Highway driving yields 108 miles per gallon, according to the EPA.
2. Volkswagen e-Golf
With a combined 116 miles per gallon equivalent, the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf tied the Fiat 500e with its overall rating. For this list, it gets the edge with the 126 miles per gallon equivalent in city driving and its conservative estimate of 83 miles in electric range. Bravo to the e-Golf for opening up availability to at least 10 U.S. markets. With a much higher price than the Nissan Leaf, we are curious to see how this very efficient car stacks up in the EV market.
1. Chevrolet Spark EV
General Motors bookends the list of most efficient 2015 cars with the Chevy Volt and Chevy Spark EV, the best performer in economy for the model year. Like several cars on this list, the Spark EV is one of the compliance cars that gives GM a way to sell more car in California, the nation’s largest auto market. Available in Oregon as well as the Golden State, a Spark EV is rated at a combined 119 miles per gallon equivalent and gets up to 82 miles of electric range.
Where do EV standouts Tesla and BMW stand with their respective 2014 models? The 2014 Tesla Model S is rated at a combined 95 miles per gallon equivalent, which would best the Mercedes B-Class ranked ninth for 2015. As for the BMW i3, its 124 miles per gallon combined rating (137 city MPGe) make it the most efficient vehicle for sale in the United States. It just doesn’t have a model wearing a 2015 badge.