The latest rise in gas prices is once again impacting both driving habits and vehicle purchase decisions. So it’s not surprising that small cars are dominating the sales charts as new car buyers gravitate yet again toward more fuel efficient cars, crossovers, and SUVs.
Not so long ago there weren’t a lot of higher mileage powertrain options to choose from in each vehicle category but that has definitely changed. In an effort to better inform car buying decisions, Consumer Reports has come out with a list of the best new cars that offer the best mix of both fuel economy and base price in each class based on its recent testing, along with what it deems is the worst option for those looking for more efficient transportation.
When you think of a car that gets the highest gas mileage in EPA estimates, more often than not it’s a hybrid or a diesel. But should the fact that they’re more expensive be a turn-off? Not necessarily says David Champion, senior director at Consumer Reports. “Hybrid and diesel vehicles provide better fuel economy than conventional cars, but they usually cost more to buy, and as gas prices rise, the pay-back time gets shorter.”
The first class on the Consumer Reports list is the subcompact. The best car in this class for fuel economy is the Honda Fit. This vehicle gets 30 mpg combined, while costing only $16,020 to start. On the contrary, the outgoing Chevrolet Aveo was the least fuel efficient car in the subcompact class at 25 mpg. That will change soon when the Aveo is replaced by the new Chevrolet Sonic, which is expected to net significantly higher mileage.
Next up were the small wagons and hatchbacks. The most fuel efficient vehicle in this class proved to be the Volkswagen Golf TDI, a diesel car. This particular car had a manual transmission, and got 38 mpg, selling for a price of $24,764. Tying for least fuel efficient in this class were the Scion XB and Subaru Impreza Outback Sport (AWD) at 23 mpg.
The Toyota Corolla finished on top of the small sedan class, with a fuel efficiency of 32 mpg. It also is very reasonably priced at $18,404. The least fuel efficient small sedan was the Subaru Impreza 2.5i at 24 mpg. Like the Aveo, the Impreza is also due to be replaced very soon by a new, higher mileage next-generation model.
The family car class was a runaway victory for the $24,750 Toyota Prius IV (Hybrid). The Hybrid Prius got 44 mpg combined, while the Ford Fusion SEL (V6, AWD), Chevrolet Impala LTZ (V6), and Mazda 6 V6 got a family car worst 20 mpg. The Prius more than doubled the mpg of these cars.
Last but not least are the small SUVs. The Ford Escape Hybrid, $32,575, came out on top with 26 mpg. The least fuel efficient SUV went to the Dodge Nitro SLT (3.7L) and Jeep Liberty Sport at a pathetic 16 mpg.
Gas may still be outrageously expensive, but if you purchase a vehicle with best in class fuel economy you can delay getting gas, and be on your way to the gym or work.
|Best Subcompact car for fuel economy: Honda Fit $16,020, 30 mpg|
|Worst in class: Chevrolet Aveo LT: 25 mpg
|Best Small Wagons and Hatchbacks: Volkswagen Golf TDI (Diesel, manual), $24,764, 38 mpg|
|Worst in class: Scion xB, Subaru Impreza Outback Sport (AWD):23 mpg
|Best Small Sedans : Toyota Corolla LE, $18,404, 32 mpg|
|Worst in class: Subaru Impreza 2.5i, 24 mpg
|Best Family Car: Toyota Prius IV (Hybrid), $24,750, 44 mpg|
|Worst in class : Ford Fusion SEL (V6, AWD), Chevrolet Impala LTZ (V6), Mazda6 V6: 20 mpg
|Best Upscale/ Sports Sedan: Lexus HS 250 h (Hybrid), $38,939, 31 mpg|
|Worst in class: Lincoln MKZ: 20 mpg
|Best Small SUV: Ford Escape Hybrid, $32,575, 26 mpg|
|Worst in class: Dodge Nitro SLT (3.7 liters), Jeep Liberty Sport 16 mpg
Source: Consumer Reports