What Are Today's Best Fuel-Efficient Vehicles?
If you’re in the process of shopping for a new vehicle, but not yet ready to make the leap into electrified driving with a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or pure electric car, you still have plenty of amazing choices. There are many vehicles on the market that offer space, capability, or driving fun, as well as impressive MPG figures. If you’re looking to reduce your fuel bills and carbon footprint, but want to stick with gasoline, we think the eight vehicles in this list are a great place to start.
Best Compact Car: Volkswagen Jetta
We love the Jetta because it’s a compact sedan with almost as much room as a larger mid-size. Indeed, almost everything about the Jetta seems like it’s from a class above – not just the spacious interior with its big, comfortable seats, but also its superb ride quality and how quiet the cabin is even when you’re cruising at high speeds.
The Jetta’s German autobahn breeding also shines through. You can sense its stability and confidence from the moment you turn the wheel, and it handles turns and winding roads confidently. The 1.5-liter turbocharged engine produces 158 horsepower absolutely sipping gas; its 158 horsepower is nearly double what some similarly-economical vehicles produce. Standard tech also includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, multiple USB ports, a back-up camera, and more.
- Starting MSRP: $20,365
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 29/42
Best Large Car: Honda Accord
The Honda Accord has always been one of the top-selling sedans in the U.S., trading the crown over decades with the similarly-sized and similarly-capable Toyota Camry. So why have we chosen the Accord? Because it combines its frugality with a dose of luxury and driving excitement that make it feel like a more expensive car. Accord’s cabin is beautifully-designed and finished, with the perfect combination of analog controls and digital screens, and even though the roof is low and sleek, there’s plenty of room in the rear even for tall family members.
The standard Honda Sensing safety suite includes blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, automatic pre-collision braking, and more. The best part? A responsive 192-hp turbocharged engine, 17-inch wheels, and fantastic suspension tuning make the Accord a great car to drive as well as a great car for hauling your family.
- Starting MSRP: $26,520
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 30/38
Best Luxury Car: BMW 330i
The BMW 3 Series is arguably the original sports sedan, and it’s still in many ways the best of the breed, a perfect combination of a dynamic chassis, luxurious interior, powerful engine, and sleek styling. The latest 330i, just recently facelifted, is better than ever, its 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic delivering excellent economy without sacrificing driving thrills. The 330’s rear-wheel drive chassis is magical in its ability to hold corners while maintaining an excellent ride, and it cruises effortlessly at high speeds.
Inside, you’ll find a thoughtfully-designed interior with all the latest tech, including a digital instrument cluster and a large infotainment display that can be operated by touch or with physical controls. Standard safety equipment includes frontal collision warning and automatic collision braking.
- Starting MSRP: $42,300
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 26/36
Best Compact SUV: Hyundai Kona
Hyundai calls the Kona an “SUV for the city,” which is an apt description for this roomy, versatile all-rounder. Kona’s naturally-aspirated 2-liter engine that produces 147 hp, more than enough for daily duties. We really appreciate the thoughtfully-designed interior, the standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, the impressive 10-year warranty, and complimentary scheduled maintenance, which keeps running costs low. Kona is actually available in several versions, including front- and all-wheel drive; we’d stick with front-drive, as this isn’t a car to go bashing rocks off-road. If you want even better efficiency and lower emissions, an electric version is also available.
- Starting MSRP: $21,300
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 30/35
Best SUV: Toyota RAV4
The RAV4 is the best-selling SUV in America, and looking at its specs and features, it’s easy to understand why. It brings the raised ride height drivers love, Toyota quality, and impressive fuel economy. Outside, the latest version has an aggressive, blocky look; inside, it’s well-made, thoughtfully-designed, and more spacious than ever.
RAV4’s simple controls give you access to tech including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Active cruise control, pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign recognition, and automatic high beams are all standard. Drivers looking for more performance, or better economy than the 2.5-liter four cylinder, can choose a powerful and even more economical hybrid version – a Toyota specialty.
- Starting MSRP: $26,975
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 27/35
Best Luxury SUV: BMW X3
What’s the best-selling model in the BMW lineup? The X3 SUV – from the company best-known for its sports sedans. Drive one, however, and you’ll understand why: although the X3 isn’t the newest model in its segment, it offers the best combination of space, performance, luxury, and economy.
Thanks to a powerful turbocharged engine and a beautifully-tuned chassis, it is among the best SUVs to drive, and its interior is roomy, versatile, and packed with technology. A digital instrument cluster sits alongside a large central screen, which is intuitive to operate thanks to touch as well as physical controls. And standard safety gear is comprehensive, including lane departure warning, frontal collision warning and collision mitigation, blind spot detection, and more.
- Starting MSRP: $45,400
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 23/29
Best Pickup: Ford F-150 XL
F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America – and by a wide margin – for decades. It’s available in a huge variety of configurations, from basic to ultra-luxurious. If you’re looking for a great combination of capability and fuel economy, we actually think the most basic F-150 is best: the F-150 XL is economical and well-equipped, and also very good value – the perfect work truck. Its 3.3-liter V6 produces 290 horsepower, more than adequate for most duties, while giving 26 MPG on the highway, among the best in its class.
The F-150 XL’s short box has enough room for most jobs, and its practical vinyl interior is easy to keep clean. Even in its most basic form, you don’t miss out on technology with the F-150; a standard 8-inch touchscreen keeps you connected to the world around you, while a rear-view camera, stability control, six airbags, and more are there to help keep you safe.
- Starting MSRP: $31,250
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 20/26
Best Sports Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Just because you want to drive a sports car doesn’t mean you have to guzzle gas. In fact, the Mazda Miata, one of the most economical sports cars you can buy, is also one of the most fun to drive. This tiny convertible has a responsive four-cylinder engine, a fantastic six-speed manual gearbox, great suspension, and small tires which make it great fun to drive at all speeds.
While its interior is tight, the Miata comes with all of the features you’d want, including a dash-top screen with modern infotainment. The best part is its manual convertible top: you can drop it or raise it with one hand, without even getting out of the driver’s seat. For driving thrills without the sting of hefty fuel bills, look no further than the timelessly stylish Mazda.
- Starting MSRP: $27,650
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 26/35