Highest Mileage Non-Hybrid Cars
Image caption: The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage is the most environmentally friendly non-hybrid car, averaging 37/43 mpg and emitting 226 grams of CO2 per mile.
Though gas prices remain reasonably affordable, it behooves budget-minded new-vehicle shoppers to pay close attention to a car’s fuel economy when comparing makes and models. Not only will choosing a fuel-sipper instead of a gas-guzzler save money at the pump, it will leave behind a smaller carbon footprint, for those who likewise want to choose a vehicle that’s kinder to the environment.
But while gas-electric hybrid models like the Toyota Prius get top fuel economy ratings (the Prius gets 50/54 mpg city/highway) they usually cost anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars more than comparable standard-powered models, given the added mechanical complexity. And higher-mileage plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles can cost thousands more, though they come with one-time federal tax credits as rich as $7,500.
So, in the spirit of environmentalism, simplicity and sheer frugality, we’ve dug deep into the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual new-vehicle ratings to identify the 10 most fuel-efficient non-hybrid or electric-powered vehicles in the U.S. in the accompanying box.
Of course, our list includes a number of super-economical small cars, but also includes a few unexpected entries, including a trio of sporty diesel-powered luxury cars, the compact BMW 3 Series and the Jaguar XE, and the midsize Jaguar XF sedan. Though Volkswagen may have tainted the market for diesels with its recent emissions scandal, they remain more fuel efficient and deliver stronger acceleration than comparable gasoline-powered models. The leader here is the turbodiesel version of the compact Chevrolet Cruze, which is rated at a hybrid-like 42 mpg on the highway.
How much can a cost and environmentally cautious buyer save, both in terms of his or her personal finances and the vehicle’s effects on Mother Nature, by choosing a more fuel-efficient model? The top car on our list, the subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage, starts out frugally with a base price at around $14,000; while it’s three-cylinder engine provides only token acceleration, it’s rated at 37/43 mpg, which yields an average annual fuel cost of just $950.
By comparison, the top model in Mitsubishi’s line, the compact Outlander GT crossover SUV with AWD and a 3.0-liter engine, is rated at 20/27 mpg with an annual fuel cost of $1,900. That’s a difference of $950 per year and $4,750 over a five-year ownership period, based on both cars driven 15,000 miles per year and consuming regular-grade gas at an average $2.44 a gallon.
In terms of environmental effects, the Mirage is estimated to consume 8.5 barrels of crude oil each year versus 14.3 for the Outlander, and be responsible for 226 grams per mile of tailpipe CO2 emissions versus 388 grams per mile.
And the savings become more pronounced when comparing any of the cars on our fuel-sippers list with some of the industry’s largest and most powerful models. For example, the full-size V8-powered Chevrolet Tahoe SUV is rated at 16/23 mpg, which means it will cost an owner $1,950 and use 17.3 barrels of crude oil each year to keep running, while emitting 477 grams of CO2 per mile driven.
No matter which type, make or model of vehicle you’re looking for, log onto the EPA’s fueleconomy.gov website to handily research fuel economy and environmental impact information for all current and past models from as far back as the 1984 model year.
10 Most Fuel-Efficient Non-Hybrid Cars
1. Mitsubishi Mirage/Mirage G4: 37/43 mpg; $950 annual fuel cost; uses 8.5 barrels of oil annually; emits 226 grams of CO2 per mile.
2. Chevrolet Cruze Diesel: 31/47 $1,050 annual fuel cost; uses 10.3 barrels of oil annually; emits 276 grams of CO2 per mile.
3. Honda Fit: 33/40 mpg; $1,000 annual fuel cost; uses 9.2 barrels of oil annually; emits 247 grams of CO2 per mile.
4. Honda Civic: 32/42 mpg: $1,000 annual fuel cost; uses 9.2 barrels of oil; emits 248 grams of CO2 per mile.
5. Jaguar XE 20d Diesel: 32/42 mpg; $1,100 annual fuel cost; uses 10.6 barrels of oil; emits 284 grams of CO2 per mile.
6. BMW 328d Diesel: 31/43 mpg; $1,100 annual fuel cost; uses 10.6 barrels of oil annually; emits 285 grams of CO2 per mile.
7. Smart Fortwo: 33/39 mpg: $1,250 annual fuel cost: uses 9.4 barrels of oil annually; emits 256 grams of CO2 per mile.
8. Hyundai Elantra: 32/40 mpg; $1,050 annual fuel cost; uses 9.4 barrels of oil annually; emits 256 grams of CO2 per mile.
9. Toyota Yaris iA: 32/40 mpg; $1,050 annual fuel cost; uses 9.4 barrels of oil annually; emits 249 grams of CO2 per mile.
10. Jaguar XF 20d Diesel: 31/42 mpg: $1,100 annual fuel cost; uses 10.9 barrels of oil annually; emits 289 grams of CO2 emissions per mile.
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