ConsumerReports.org answers the question: Is it better for your bank account to buy a small, less-expensive nonhybrid that still provides good, if not great, fuel economy?
If your goal in getting better fuel economy is to make every dollar count, the following list can guide you to some of today’s best buys. Of the more than 260 vehicles that we’ve recently tested, these are the 10 cars that provide the best combination of low purchase price and high fuel economy.
But gas mileage isn’t everything. So, to ensure we aren’t guiding you to cars that are mediocre in other areas, we selected only ones that meet our stringent criteria in performance, reliability, and safety for being recommended. And to make sure, the cars aren’t going to blindside you with high ownership costs after you’ve signed on the dotted line, we selected only models that earn an excellent owner-cost rating.
Top 10 in price per mpg
Model As tested Price Overall mpg Price per mpg Honda Fit Sport (manual) $15,765 34 $464 Honda Fit (base) 15,245 32 476 Toyota Prius (base) 23,780 44 540 Mazda3 i (manual) 17,290 30 576 Toyota Prius Touring 24,803 42 591 Nissan Versa 1.8 SL 16,675 28 596 Honda Civic Hybrid 22,400 37 605 Honda Civic EX (manual) 18,810 31 607 Hyundai Elantra GLS 17,555 27 650 Scion tC (base) 17,115 26 658
If you want a roomier car than the subcompact Fit, several compact cars made the list, including the Mazda3, Honda Civic, and Hyundai Elantra. And, despite their higher cost, three hybrids-two versions of the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid-made the list, based on stellar fuel economy results.
The lowest price per mpg in our analysis came from the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent with manual transmissions ($370 and $425, respectively). But because they scored too low in our tests to be recommended, they didn’t make the cut. Which cars are highest? With the Dodge Viper SRT10 and Mercedes-Benz SL550, you’ll pay more than $6,000 for every mile-per-gallon. And you’ll have to feed these engines requiring Premium fuel, as well.