Many factors influence one’s choice of a particular car, but if there’s one metric that’s increasingly essential to the car-buying public, it’s fuel mileage.
With the U.S.’s national average currently nearing $3.50 per gallon, it’s not hard to see why, but thankfully, economical vehicles are available regardless of whether shoppers are looking for gas-only, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid models.
The following vehicles rely solely on their gas engines to power them with no electric assistance whatsoever:
1. Mitsubishi Mirage
MPG: 36 City/43 Highway/39 Combined
While the Mitsubishi Mirage won’t win at the drag strip with its 78 hp, it will make a minimal dent in your fuel budget. As one of the few remaining inexpensive subcompact hatchbacks on the market, it delivers cheap, no-frills transportation.
2. Honda Civic
MPG: 33 City/42 Highway/36 Combined
Compared to the Mirage, the Honda Civic is a much more rounded car, but it’s important to note that the sporty R and Si trims won’t approach the incredible mileage of the most efficient Civic models. Achieving the 36 MPG combined rating means buyers must opt for the Civic EX, with its turbo 1.5-liter 4-cylinder and CVT transmission.
While plug-in hybrids will provide the longest range, these standard hybrids don’t require owners to hook up their cars to a charger:
1. Toyota Prius
MPG: 57 City/56 Highway/57 Combined
Once the darling of the environmentally-conscious, the Prius fell out of favor, primarily because pure EVs, such as the Tesla Model S, show that economical vehicles don’t have to be boring.
Toyota has since completely redesigned the Prius with a stunning exterior and nearly double the power at almost 200 horses. The best part is that — despite the new sheet metal and power increase — it still gets nearly 60 MPG.
2. Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
MPG: 53 City/56 Highway/54 Combined
While also available as a gas-only model, adding a hybrid system to the Hyundai Elantra dramatically decreases its already minuscule fuel thirst. While 139 hp certainly won’t excite drivers, current Elantra Hybrid models offer more passenger space than the Prius while returning the same highway mileage.
For owners who don’t mind installing a charging station at home, these plugin hybrids combine the incredible economy and performance of EVs with the range of a gas-powered car:
1. Toyota Prius Prime
Gas + Electric Efficiency: 114 MPGe
While the standard Toyota Prius is an excellent choice if finances are your only concern, moving up to the Prius Prime comes with some tangible and exciting benefits. Horsepower climbs to 220, and electric-only driving will take you 39 miles. While standard MPG ratings drop to 48/50/47, it’s the combined gas and electric figure of 114 MPGe that makes the Prime worth considering over its gas-powered counterpart.
2. Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Gas + Electric Efficiency: 82 MPGe
The Pacifica may be a minivan with a 3.6-liter V6 engine, but thanks to its dual electric motors, it makes 260 hp and gets incredible mileage. As much as 30 MPG is attainable in hybrid mode, and drivers can even travel 32 miles through purely electric power, making it the premier choice when cargo space is a bigger concern than efficiency.