If you are in the market for a new car, there is a very good chance that fuel efficiency is at the top of your list of priorities.
With gas prices still above $3 per gallon for the vast majority of America, the everyday expense of owning a car continues to rise.
Fuel economy on everyday cars has gotten better and better over the past few years, and it’s at the point where many economy cars can regularly return close to 40 miles per gallon.
In the past, we have excoriated the electric car because we just do not feel that it is ready for mass consumption. We found that the limited range, long charging times, upfront expense of batteries, and the energy that goes into building them were not cost effective tradeoffs for people to make the switch.
And while we still believe that the electric car has its share of issues, there are definitely alternatives available to help you pay less at the pump while still having a good time.
To guide our choices, we are using the most up-to-date version of the Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy Guide. While they provide the winners based solely on fuel economy in each class, we decided to take other factors into account when creating our list.
We wanted cars that were also fun to drive and looked good. They had to be on the market for the 2012 model year, as well. The cars on the list are also powered by gas or diesel without hybrid or battery assists.
For each car we have provided the combined city/highway MPG, the manufacturer’s base price, and the average annual fuel cost as calculated by the Department of Energy.
Combined MPG: 28
Base Price: $31,900
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $1,960
But why?: The new Mini Coupe is not for everyone. The design has been quite polarising; we happen to love it.
We put this on our list because a quick little car that will put a smile on your face while returning 28 miles per gallon can only be a good thing. The John Cooper Works is the fastest model. Opt for one of the cheaper models for even better fuel efficiency.
Combined MPG: 33
Base Price: $15,670
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $1,541
But why?: The Fiesta is actually the overall leader in this segment.
We've driven the Fiesta's cousin, the Mazda2, and would expect nothing different from the driving experience in this car.
Combined MPG: 32
Base Price: $17,300
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $1,592
But why?: The little Veloster is one cool looking car. The unique three door layout is also the only of its kind on the road.
It can fit all your stuff and get you around town quickly; a practical and fun ride.
Combined MPG: 30
Base Price: $16,800
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $1,693
But why?: The Cruze is earning Chevy a lot of credibility in the midsize class.
We think the car looks great and the interior is definitely up to snuff with the competitors from around the globe. We have not driven one yet, but do not expect anything different from what we can see.
Combined MPG: 27
Base Price: $21,380
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $1,881
But why?: Yes, the Honda Accord is a bit vanilla.
But amongst it's competition, it returns the best fuel mileage, looks the best, and is one of the best sellers. Sure, you'll see them all over the road, but there may not be a more reliable car on the market. A safe and economical choice.
Combined MPG: 34
Base Price: $25,540
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $1,698
But why?: While the rest of the Jetta lineup was restyled for 2012, the SportWagen soldiers on.
And that's ok, because this is one great little workhorse. It may not be the fastest, but it should not be tough to exceed 40 miles per gallon on a regular basis.
Combined MPG: 17
Base Price: $25,190
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $2,990
But why?: The turbocharged F150 is bringing economy to the bestselling truck of all time.
Fuel mileage in pickups is rarely good, so even a paltry 17 MPG is a big win.
Combined MPG: 25
Base Price: $92,550
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $2,310
But why?: The S-Class has never been considered a performance car, so why does it need a big V8?
A smaller diesel engine provides plenty of torque for smooth acceleration off the line and it loses none of the tech on the inside. A great compromise.
Combined MPG: 22
Base Price: $46,875
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $2,628
But why?: This was a tough choice.
Since the traditional SUV is going the way of the dinosaur, we included high riding crossovers in our search too. The TDI Touareg has enough torque to uproot a tree and will do it while the driver is supremely comfortable.
Combined MPG: 18
Base Price: $229,000
Average Annual Fuel Cost: $3,052
But why?: 18 miles per gallon in a car that has almost 600 horsepower. Wow.
If you are buying a supercar, fuel mileage is probably your last consideration. But just know that the McLaren gets a whopping 8 MPG more than a Bugatti Veyron.
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