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Owning a fuel efficient car is great for your savings account, great for Mother Earth and bad for people with small bladders. For drivers who accumulate miles faster thanFirst Edition supercars sold out, a fuel-efficient car could drastically improve your quality of life.
There are also plenty of options, which makes finding a high-performance car easier than ever. If emissions are your primary concern for driving an internal combustion vehicle, then it may be time to consider an electric vehicle. If price and variety are more important, hybrid powertrains are now available for almost every vehicle class and type except trucks, though those are starting to trickle in as well.
To take the guesswork out of determining the best options available,A driveThe crack intelligence team has put together a list of the most affordable cars on the market today. Let us figure out your next ride.
What is fuel efficiency and why is it important?
Fuel efficiency is a measurement of how efficiently a vehicle uses an energy source to travel a certain distance. For gas cars, this is measured in MPG, or miles per gallon, while electric-assisted hybrids and pure electric vehicles are measured in MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent.
Fuel efficiency is important from a personal perspective, as well as from a global perspective. The macro perspective sees a fuel-efficient vehicle benefiting the planet by using less gasoline and releasing fewer harmful gas emissions into the atmosphere. From an individual perspective, a fuel-efficient car benefits its owner by reducing trips to the gas station, which keeps money in your pockets.
What is MPGe?
MPG is a measurement of how many miles a vehicle can travel on one gallon of gas. MPGe, which is used to measure the "fuel economy" of hybrid and electric vehicles, is miles per gallon equivalent. According to the United States Department of Energy, 33.70 kWh of electricity has 100 percent of the energy of a gallon of gasoline. So if a vehicle is able to run 100 miles on 33.70 kWh, it is rated at 100 MPGe.
If you want to read more about hybrids and EVs, you canA driveextensive guides toadvantages and disadvantages of a hybrid carandcharging electric cars.
What factors affect the fuel efficiency of cars?
Fuel economy is not a fixed, unchanging number. It is determined by how you drive, where you drive and various other factors. If your goal is optimal fuel efficiency, take note.
Driving around town like you're in BowserMario Kartputs stress on the engine and its components. When the drivetrain is forced to work harder to meet demands outside of the typical daily routine, performance suffers. More power requires more fuel, so the engine absorbs it faster.
If extra people or extra cargo weigh the vehicle down, it needs more energy to pull or push itself. More power means more fuel, which means worse performance.
Both extremely hot and cold conditions can stress an engine's components and make it harder to do its job. If the fluids or fuel system cannot function properly, the vehicle's fuel efficiency will suffer.
Driving in places like San Francisco, where the earth undulates to the rhythm of Rhythm Nation, a vehicle will likely underperform in its EPA ratings. Going up hills puts a lot of stress on an engine, especially if it's underpowered.
The 10 most economical cars
Every car on this list is a plug-in hybrid that requires battery charging via a public or personal charger. This also means that every vehicle on this list has a tiny all-electric range that doesn't use a single drop of gas.
2020 Subaru Crosstrek PHEV (90 MPGe combined)
The Subaru Crosstrek is a small four-door crossover hatchback. It is estimated to have an electric range of 17 miles and is one of the only PHEVs available with all-wheel drive.
Toyota Rav4 Prime PHEV 2021 (94 MPGe)
Okay, we cheated by including it2021 Rav4 Prime, but it's too good to leave out. With 302 horsepower, a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds, and roughly 40 miles of all-electric range, the plug-in four-door crossover proves once again that Toyota owns the hybrid game.
BMW i3 2020 with range extender (100 MPGe)
The BMW i3 is essentially a true electric city car that can be optioned with a gas generator to become a hybrid. The EV version has a range of 153 miles, while the range-extended version can go up to 200 miles. Although expensive when new, the i3 and its stylish interior are plenty on the used market.
2020 Kia Optima PHEV (101 MPGe)
The brand new generation2021 K5(new name, same heritage), but the current Optima remains a good choice. Although the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are available as regular hybrids, the Optima PHEV has the advantage of up to 28 miles of pure electric driving.
2020 Ford Escape PHEV (102 MPGe)
All of Ford's recent fanfare has predictably focused on the all-new Bronco, the all-electricMustang Mach-Ecrossover and the upcoming F-150 electric truck, but the new Escape plug-in hybrid deserves attention. Ford has taken a much more sophisticated approach to its design, inside and out, and the clever packaging makes it practical and versatile. On electricity alone, the Escape PHEV can drive up to 37 miles, Ford says.
2020 Ford Fusion Energi PHEV (103 MPGe)
Technically, the Ford Fusion is dead, but you'll likely see leftovers in dealerships for months to come. However, the Fusion Energi's range is almost exclusively positive. Its looks are dated, the interior is terrible, and it has perhaps the worst hybrid packaging on the market today. The battery blocks the trunk space and prevents the possibility of using the rear seat pass. This immediately makes this car a difficult pass.
2020 Kia Niro PHEV (105 MPGe)
The Kia Niro is a bit like a hatchback, a bit like a wagon, a bit like a crossover and a bit like a sedan. The result is a no-nonsense design with excellent practicality that is available as a regular hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric version. The EV is rated at 239 miles of range, while the PHEV has an electric range of up to 26 miles.
Honda Clarity PHEV 2020 (110 MPGe)
The Honda Clarity is available as a futuristic hydrogen fuel cell vehicle or as a plug-in hybrid. The PHEV's total range of 340 miles falls well short of many competitors, but its battery electric range is among the best. Using only battery power, Clarity can drive up to 47 miles in peace and quiet. If you live in a city, you may never need gas.
Hyundai Ioniq PHEV 2020 (119 MPGe)
The Ioniq is Hyundai's swiss army knife. It's available as a 133 MPGe all-electric vehicle, a 58 mpg regular hybrid, or a plug-in hybrid. The four-door hatchback PHEV has a quieter look than the Prius, can drive up to 29 miles on electric power, and has a total range of 630 miles. It's almost impossible to beat the value of the Ioniq.
Toyota Prius Prime PHEV 2020 (133 MPGe)
In 2010, the Toyota Prius was the flagship hybrid to beat, and in 2020, that remains true, this time with a word added to its name: Prime. The four-door Prius Prime hatchback can drive up to 25 miles on silent electric power and has an impressive total range of 610 miles. This is basically Detroit in New York without interruption. Its wild style is a unique positive or an obnoxious negative, depending on who you ask.
The 3 most economical cars without a plug
Not everyone can install an outlet in their homes, don't have access to public outlets, or don't want to plug in their cars at all. That's what regular hybrids are for.
Honda Insight (52 mpg combined)
The Honda Insight is basically a hybrid Honda Civic, and we say that with a highly positive regard. The Insight has a classy, if not invisible, design, solid tech value and decent driving characteristics. It's rated at 55 mpg city, 49 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined. Who doesn't like a more economical Civic?
Toyota Prius Eco (56 mpg)
Customers who decide "I want a hybrid" and just buy a Toyota Prius are in luck. The cult car continues to represent a standard for fuel efficiency with 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 56 mpg combined.
Hyundai Ioniq Blue (58 mpg)
As mentioned earlier, the Ioniq is also available as a regular hybrid that does not require a plug or charger. The lower trim level Ioniq is rated at 55 mpg city, 54 mpg highway, 55 mpg combined, while the Blue trim is rated at 57 mpg city, 59 mpg highway, 58 mpg combined. Its total range of 690 miles will take you about a quarter of the way across the country on one tank.
The most efficient non-hybrid cars
Some people just want their keys and their gas engines, and there's nothing wrong with that. These are some fuel efficient budget vehicles.
2020 Hyundai Accent/2020 Kia Rio/2020 Honda Fit/2020 Honda Civic (36 MPG combined)
As a larger vehicle class, the Civic keeps up impressively with smaller vehicles in performance. The 1.5-liter Civic turbo sedan is rated at 32 mpg city, 42 mpg highway, 36 mpg combined.
2021 Hyundai Elantra (37 mpg)
Hyundai recently introduced a brand new generationElantrawith radical angular designs and hybrid option available. But the regular gas Elantra can hold its own. The EPA rates the four-cylinder Elantra at 33 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, 37 mpg combined. There's no reason to sleep on Hyundai at this point.
Mitsubishi Mirage Hatchback 2020 (39 mpg)
So many look down on the Mitsubishi Mirage, but there's one thing it can always defend: gas mileage. Without the help of any fancy hybrid technology, its little 1.3-liter three-cylinder is EPA-rated for 36 mpg city, 43 mpg highway and 39 mpg combined. Introducing your king of gas performance.
The Mirage G4 sedan is similarly rated at 35 mpg city, 41 mpg highway and 37 mpg combined.
What is the cheapest fuel efficient car?
The BMW i3 is one of the best kept secrets in the used car market. Light movement examples with the range extension regularly list for around $15,000-$20,000. The i3 remains one of the most unique vehicles on the road and its gorgeous interior is virtually unparalleled, especially in a proper small city car. The only major downsides are the need for a plug and the relatively limited total range of around 200 miles.
The cheapest new performance cars will be the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV, which starts at $27,495 with destination charges, or the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV, which starts at $29,215 with destination charges.
If the complexity of hybrid powertrains deters you, an old-school gas-powered Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $15,135.
What is the most practical fuel-efficient car for families?
One of the best vehicles on the planet is missing from the above lists: the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. The Pacifica is very attractive, inside and out, offers plenty of storage and is now available with a plug. The 2020 model is rated at 82 MPGe, can travel 32 miles on electric power alone, and has a total range of 520 miles. With two screens in the back for playing chess or watching movies, it's a perfect vacation vehicle.
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