Today's Most Fuel-Efficient Cars

By
Laurance Yap
Updated:
Sep 2022
Time to read:
8
min
There is still a lot of life left in gasoline engines if you want to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. These vehicles on our list all get over 40 MPG highway, according to the EPA – and only one of them costs over $25,000.
driver sitting on a fuel efficient car

Today's Most Efficient Gas-Powered Cars

While much of today’s conversation about sustainable driving focuses on vehicles you can plug in – particularly electric cars – for many drivers, an electric car is not yet an option. There are still large areas of the U.S. that are not covered by public charging networks, and many drivers don’t have the ability to charge at home. Plus, electric vehicles and hybrids, even when incentives are factored into their prices, are still expensive, and out of the reach of many Americans.

Fortunately, there is still a lot of life left in gasoline engines if you want to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Even as they roll out new electric cars, car brands continue to update their conventional offerings, and there is a wide selection of vehicles on the market that deliver amazing fuel efficiency – without needing a plug, or an adaptation to your driving habits. In fact, we were able to find eight vehicles for our list that all get over 40 MPG highway, according to the EPA. The bonus is that these economical cars are also economical to buy – only one of them costs over $25,000. That’s a big plus in an age of high gasoline prices.

Mitsubishi Mirage

The subcompact Mirage, available as a sedan or hatchback, is one of the least-expensive cars available in the U.S. It’s also one of the most economical to run, with a 1.2-liter engine capable of 43 MPG on the highway when equipped with the automatic transmission.

The Mirage’s body has plenty of room up front and the hatchback has a versatile cargo area that can be expanded by folding down the back seats. Both models also have a super-tight turning circle, making them great cars for the city. Even at a low base price, Mirages come standard with ABS brakes, stability control, and automatic braking with pedestrian detection – features which are optional on many more expensive cars. Seven airbags and a rear-view camera are also standard.

  • Starting MSRP: $14,645
  • EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 36/43

Hyundai Elantra

Elantra is a modern and surprisingly spacious compact sedan with impressive features and luxury for a car of its price. Its interior includes high-end features previously available only on luxury cars. Even the entry-level SE comes with a large touchscreen and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also comes standard with a wide range of safety systems: forward collision assist with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, blind spot assist, and more. The 147-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder has no turbos and no special technology, but it delivers 42 highway MPG, best in class, and better than many smaller, less comfortable cars.

  • Starting MSRP: $20,500
  • EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 33/42

Honda Civic EX/Touring

Redesigned for 2022, the ever-popular Civic has grown up, with more room than ever in its five-passenger cabin. It is conservative but timeless inside and out, and we really like its interior, which has excellent quality, great seats, and intuitive controls. There’s a large touch screen on the dash for infotainment – Apple CarPlay is standard – but thankfully, many functions are still operated with knobs and buttons.

The Civic’s driving experience is also excellent, with a responsive, sporty edge surprising in a vehicle of this size and price. The base 2.0-liter engine produces 158 hp and 40 highway MPG, but upgrading to the more powerful 180-hp turbo engine in EX and Touring models actually gets you 42 MPG highway.

  • Starting MSRP: $25,550
  • EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 33/42
Honda Civic Touring

Hyundai Accent

The Accent is Hyundai’s cheapest offering in the U.S., but the low price doesn’t mean you give up safety, value, or technology. All Accents come with standard automatic transmission, ABS brakes, stability control, rear-view camera, and six airbags.

Inside, they are packed with practical touches like a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, power windows and door locks, and more. Also, Hyundai has wisely avoided going overboard with screens and gadgets, instead providing a touch-screen portal to your smartphone through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay alongside physical climate controls. The Accent is an appealing as well as an economical package, giving you 41 highway MPG.

  • Starting MSRP: $16,645
  • EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 33/41

Kia Rio

Kia’s subcompact Rio is small on the outside, but it’s big inside, with more interior space than the Toyota Corolla. The Rio is very well-equipped, with a standard 8-inch touchscreen display, rear-view camera, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Standard safety features include ABS and stability control along with a strong crash structure and six airbags. Combined with a standard automatic transmission, the 1.6-liter, 120-hp engine produces plenty of pep for city and highway journeys, along with 41 MPG fuel consumption on the highway.

  • Starting MSRP: $16,450
  • EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 33/41

Kia Forte

The Kia Forte looks and feels way more upscale than its affordable price – there is something very upscale and European about its interior and exterior styling, with a high-end feel that belies its sub-$20,000 sticker. It is also very economical, with a 2-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers surprising performance and fuel economy: 41 highway MPG according to the EPA.

Standard tech includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic braking assist. Inside, the dash-mounted touch screen infotainment system is clear and easy to use, with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and available wireless charging.

  • Starting MSRP: $19,490
  • EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 31/41
Kia Forte Interior

Nissan Versa

Newly updated for 2022, Versa is Nissan’s smallest sedan, but it still has room for a young family. You sit higher and more upright in the Versa, which makes it comfortable even for tall drivers, and the interior is nicely made and very well-equipped. It doesn’t feel cheap at all.

The in-dash infotainment system offers CarPlay and Android Auto, and is easy to use, with physical controls as well as a touch screen. At just over $15,000, you also get safety technology like blind spot warning, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking standard. Versa even has intelligent cruise control for longer trips – something you’ll enjoy along with its fuel economy.

  • Starting MSRP: $15,380
  • EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 32/40

Toyota Corolla

The Corolla is actually the best-selling car in the history of the world. Millions have been made since the sixties, and many are still on the road thanks to their bulletproof reliability and the love their owners have for them.

For a compact, the Corolla’s interior is very roomy, and unlike previous generations, it also offers a stylish, upscale design inside and out, as well as a sporty, responsive driving feel. The Corolla SE’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 169 hp, 30 more than the base model, while also improving highway MPG from 38 to 40. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard, with active cruise control, lane assist, automatic braking, pedestrian detection, and more.

  • Starting MSRP: $20,425
  • EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 32/40