Sixteen Sweet Fuel-Sipping Cars

To help you fight the battle against high gasoline prices, Consumer Reports has put together a list of the 16 best used fuel-sipping cars. The list only contains cars under 10 years old and the criteria is based on fuel economy and reliability. It does not take into account driver comfort or fancy options. Check out CNN’s full article for more detailed information on each car. The list, inside…

2000 Honda Insight MPG: 51
Estimated cost: $4,760 – $6,350

2004 – ’06 Toyota Prius MPG: 44

Estimated cost: $15,000 – $20,775

2001 – ’03 Toyota Prius MPG: 41
Estimated cost: $6,700 – $13,225

2000 – ’05 Toyota Echo MPG: 38
Estimated cost: $3,260 – $10,325

2003 Honda Civic Hybrid MPG: 37
Estimated cost: N/A

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid/EX MPG: 37/31
Estimated cost: $12,270 – $20,350

2007 Honda Fit Sport (manual) MPG: 34
Estimated cost: N/A

2007 Toyota Yaris Liftback and sedan MPG: 34/33
Estimated cost: N/A

1998 – 2002 Chevrolet Prizm MPG: 32

Estimated cost: $2,475 – $2,475

1998 Mazda Protege LX MPG: 32
Estimated cost: $1,690 – $3,925

1998 – 2000 Toyota Corolla CE/LE MPG: 32/31
Estimated cost: $2,245 – $5,900

1991 – 2001 Acura Integra MPG: 32

Estimated cost: $3,255 – $14,700

2005 – ’06 Scion xB (manual/auto) MPG: 32/30
Estimated cost: $8,250 – $14,175

2004 – ’05 Scion xA (auto/manual) MPG: 31/30
Estimated cost: $7,725 – $11,200

2004 – ’07 Mazda3 (manual) MPG: 30

Estimated cost: $10,085 – $20,025

2006 Mini Cooper (manual) MPG: 30
Estimated cost: $16,660 – $24,7500

16 sweet used fuel sippers [CNN Money]


Edit Your Comment

  1. The exclusion of diesels is never more glaringly obvious than when any mainstream outlet does one of these bits.

    1. MkIV Jetta/Golf/Beetle: 50-55mpg

    (yes, diesel is expensive right now, but that has more to do with home heating oil demands and the recent shift to ultra low sulphur blends over the past year. It will come back down in the long run)

  2. One thing to remember though, these cars are in higher demand than normal. Higher demand means that people will be selling (and paying for) these cars at prices higher than ‘estimated cost’.

  3. @heavylee-again: good point.

    Still, as much as I hate getting killed at the pump, it beats getting killed on the road. Some of those cars (Scion xA, Yaris, Fit Sport) I would be terrified to drive around in.

  4. yeah…I’m not seeing any honda insights going for anywhere near that inexpensive-unless they’re missing half of their hood

  5. henrygates says:

    Interesting how none of them are being produced anymore!

  6. APFPilot says:

    My Fiancee has a Civic Hybrid and we never NEVER see average MPG over 30. Its not worth it to buy the hybrid

  7. neilb says:

    “None are more than 10 years old, and the decision was based entirely on fuel economy and reliability.”

    Go back another 10 and you get a different (more efficient) set of vehicles. It seems as if they left off some others (the late Escorts had excellent economy, but who knows what they consider to be “reliable”? –apparently just Japanese manufacturers and one notoriously unreliable British model).

    This article also screws up a lot of the stats, especially on the Corolla/Prizm (e.g. the 2001 Corolla was the same as the 2000 Corolla, but was not included on the list). This article looks like it was thrown together hastily by a junior intern.

  8. Sweet! I don’t drive any of those cars.

    I’m close though, my 2004 Corolla gets almost 25 mpg highway – which is all the driving I do.

  9. sleze69 says:

    @Ash78: Ash beat me to the point. Used VW TDIs get AMAZING mileage. My 05 Passat is still getting better and better mileage (around 40 MPG).

    To do a fair comparison between a gasser and a diesel, it would be good to show cost/mile (or cost/100 miles) in addition to mpg. That would show the actual savings.

    Based on the $4.73/gallon diesel I bought yesterday, my cost/100 miles is $11.85. My girlfriend’s 2001 Focus gets around 25 mpg so, at $3.93/gallon, her cost/100 miles is $15.72.

  10. FreemanB says:

    My wife loves her 04 Prius. I love my 06 Prius. With gas prices going up, they get even better.

  11. FreemanB says:

    Oh, and I average a little over 50mpg.

  12. @sleze69: And don’t forget how much more car you have than she does. Just goes to show that you don’t need to downsize to make a big improvement…but so much of this “eco-cred” crap is just impression management.

    Vehicular asceticism–look how much I gave up to save a little on gas!

  13. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    Where are these numbers coming from? The half-baked EPA estimates? I have a manual ’05 Mazda3, and I don’t get anywhere near 30 MPH. Maybe driving downhill on the interstate with all the windows closed and the A/C off I might just barely get it…

  14. jchabotte says:

    i wonder how they account to factor in cost of ownership? i.e. how much you’ll pay monthly for insurance, car payments, maintenance costs, etc..

    I pay roughly $300/month for my car payment and insurance total.. add to that i spend about $200 monthly on gas and it would come out cheaper than spending $400/monthly for payments and insurance to only spend $125 on gas.

  15. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: That’s MPG, not MPH, sorry. I definitely get 30 MPH.

  16. mobilene says:

    What ticks me off is that cars in this size class used to routinely get upwards of 40 mph years ago. Cripes, my 1989 Chevy Beretta got 40 on the highway when it was new, and it was bigger than any of these cars. But I’m sure my Beretta, bereft of airbags and side-impact beams and such, weighed a helluva lot less than any of the cars listed.

  17. @Ash78: CR doesn’t list cars they don’t have confidence in. Volkswagen has had reliability issues for years. While you can indeed get 50 MPG out of a used VW diesel car, it doesn’t do you much good if it’s always in the shop.

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: If you can’t squeeze 30 MPG from a Mazda 3, there’s probably something wrong with it. I’d look in the mirror first, but if you’re not beating the living crap out of it (CR gets those rock-bottom observed mileage numbers by driving their test cars around New York City), I’d take it to a competent mechanic.

  18. nweaver says:

    Our 95 saturn, WITH airbags, gets 38 MPG on the highway and 30+ in city driving, STILL! There is a reason why the 2004 Mazda6 is effectively parked and the Saturn gets the miles.

  19. Tambar says:

    There’s no mention of Hyundai, but I get 30-32 mpg in my ’06 automatic transmission Elantra. Same as I used to get in my 1997 Tracer (Escort). Mobilene makes a good point, though, about today’s safety features making the cars heavier now.

  20. @neilb: interesting is that there where a lot older cars out there with excelent MPG averages, newer is not always better. See list above

  21. @Steaming Pile: CR doesn’t list cars they don’t have confidence in

    I won’t disagree with that–VW usually requires either deep pockets or DIY skills.

    Then how about the Mercedes E320cdi? 27 city, 37 highway from a large luxury sedan.

  22. @mobilene: Pisses me off, too. Engineers are shrugging their shoulders and saying, “30 MPG is good enough for a Chevy Cobalt,” and stop working. Uh, no it’s not. The Cobalt is somewhat smaller than a Honda Civic, yet the Civic will eat Chevy’s lunch on MPG every time. Why? Because GM engineers (at the behest of management, no doubt) cut corners.

    We could have 45 MPG cars right now, and without ridiculously complicated technology like hybrids. The problem is, manufacturers think people won’t sacrifice even a little bit of performance for economy. I think when gas is $4 a gallon, they’re full of shit.

  23. sleze69 says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Your MPG is all about usage and maintenance. By changing your driving habits, you can GREATLY increase/decrease mileage. The same goes for keeping your car well maintained. An old fuel filter or low tires can have a large impact on your mileage as well.

    I get 3 MPG over what the EPA says I should because I drive with mileage in mind. There are people with TDI Golfs that AVERAGE 60+ MPG. Check out [] .

  24. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @Steaming Pile: The unrealistically optimistic EPA fuel economy estimates in 2005 rate my car at 26 MPG for mixed environment driving. How am I doing something wrong if I can’t get 30?

  25. @Ash78: Same goes for Benz lately, but add a zero to that for the money requirement. The merger with Chrysler was bad for both companies, but Daimler-Benz took the biggest hit to its reputation for quality. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

  26. kjherron says:

    I leased an ’01 Honda Insight for four years. It was a lot of fun to drive. It had a nice, tight shift pattern (5-speed), hugged the road well, and accelerated well from a stop. Something about hybrids that isn’t emphasized enough is that electric motors have very good low-speed torque, so they’re very quick off the line.

    @Ash78, @sleze69: My current car is an ’00 Beetle TDI automatic. I average 39mpg using B20 (biodiesel blend). At local prices, my fuel cost is the same as for a gasoline car getting around 32mpg. The gasoline version of my car is rated 19/26mpg, so I figure I’m coming out ahead.

  27. chucklebuck says:

    Our Scion xB gets more like 25-27 city, 30 highway. I don’t know what the +/- margin of error on the EPA estimates is, so maybe that’s still within norms.

    The car I drive more, my 1993 Metro, gets 32 city and probably more highway, but that’s untested (I might do 5-15 highway miles per tank in it, but no more).

    If I could find a Honda Insight for as low as they claim, I’d have one sitting in my driveway ASAP. Love those cars.

  28. MeOhMy says:

    I usually get about 37 in my non-hybrid 2002 Civic.


    the late Escorts had excellent economy, but who knows what they consider to be “reliable”? –apparently just Japanese manufacturers and one notoriously unreliable British model).

    Yeah my ’94 Escort got great economy…when it was actually running! I guess by “notoriously unreliable British model” you’re referring to the MINI which is uhh…not the same as the Mini.

  29. @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Dang! Does Mazda suck that bad? Is that possible? I know they’re not quite in Toyota’s league, but gee whiz. Well, see my previous comment re. GM and how it blows off fuel economy for “some” performance. I still think one should be able to get 30 out of any car in Mazda 3’s weight class.

  30. theblackdog says:

    My ’97 Hyundai Elantra still pulls an average MPG of 30 when it’s mixed city and highway driving, so I am not totally complaining. I know if I were to drive it in a straight shot of highway speeds, it would be closer to 37 MPG.

    I’m hoping with the Fuel Mizer [] I’m buying that I can improve my MPG’s further.

  31. @chucklebuck: I got the xA, and I typically got 33 to 35 before I changed my driving habits. Of course, I rarely drive in city traffic; I’m usually on a two-lane country road where the speed limit is 55. I have adopted the saner and safer techniques of hypermiling (which involve my doing a lot of coasting at red lights and such, and holding the speed to about 52 MPH), which I think will consistently get me close to 40.

    I hate the new Scion cars. They don’t look like they have the soul the original ones have. Who’s with me?

  32. VViley says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: How can you not get 30 mpg in an Mazda3? I can get around 31 in my 200 hp Civic Si, if I play nice. (nice = shifting early and staying around 70 w/ cruise on and no air)

  33. @theblackdog: I think everyone without an instant and average MPG readout in their car should invest in something like that. Nothing has changed my driving habits more than seeing how I’m doing on every single trip. Almost makes saving gas into a game.

    The ScanGauge II is a really nice toy ($160 at amazon)–it does four different memory settings and also does all the check-engine-light code reading in most cars, too.

  34. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @sleze69: I agree with you on everything you’re saying, but those TDI owners are just plain stupid. Coasting out of gear in traffic and inflating tires to 10% of their SIDEWALL maximum are terrible ideas, and any extra mileage you squeeze out is cancelled out by the higher chance you have of killing yourself.

    @Steaming Pile: I think what you’re saying is true of Mazda too, they sacrifice some fuel economy to stuff slightly bigger engines into their cars. I sort of appreciate it, it’s fun to drive, but then again, I don’t really fill up that often.

  35. VViley says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Yeah… seems like you might be due for a tune up… and you might have to start driving like a grandma. My car can do 0-60 in the mid 6’s, and still get 31-32 mpg on the highway (probably not at the same time tho.)

  36. shocker says:

    My sister regularly gets 35mpg on the highway in her 08 Mazda3. Unless there were some big changes over the model years (maybe? dunno), there’s something wrong with yours.

  37. argosreality says:

    Glad to see they listed the Saturn SL or SL2 series which easily get 35-40mpg on the highway. Whoops, wait, reading the wrong list. Hell, whenever CSR has a listing of cars its a joke. Their obsession with everything Japanese is legendary.

  38. @argosreality: As well as their failure to disclose anything about their research methodology details…I’m sure it includes “we were taken out for all-you-can-eat sushi before we made the decision” :D

  39. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @shocker: If there’s something wrong with my car, I’d love to know, obviously. But you are aware that there are three trim levels of the 3, all with different engines (plus four lower horsepower California low emissions variants) and mileages, right? Which engine does your sister have? I’m guessing the 2.0 liter. Mine is the 2.3.

  40. OletheaEurystheus says:

    @Steaming Pile:
    Um no the Cobalt is LARGER than a Civic, and gets better milage. My
    wifes Fit and my Cobalt 4 door both get around 26mpg city driving,
    and my Cobalt has gotten as much as 36 driving between the Elizabeth/
    Newark area of NJ to the Jersey Shore. It still doesnt beat my 95 SL2
    saturn though.

  41. friendlynerd says:

    I don’t get the chip on the shoulder of people who think CR should include domestic cars simply because they exist. CR doesn’t recommend anything that can’t hack at least average or better reliability.

    The reliability ratings aren’t made up – they’re based on detailed surveys from people who own the cars. I fill one out every year.

    Just because you had a Chevy once that was a stellar performer doesn’t mean most people had that experience. Count yourself as a lucky one.

  42. @argosreality: Well, it’s usually because build quality of certain Japanese makes far exceeds that of the American Big Three. A Toyota or Honda with 80,000 miles is barely broken in, but 80,000 on a Ford makes it feel like a really old decrepit shitbox. And then there’s the repair bills. My son’s Ford Focus cost us a couple grand in a year fixing this or that nitnoid thing that made the car undriveable.

    Now, before you get all in my face about blaming UAW people for this (or even worse, agreeing with such an assessment), the union people just put the things together. It takes management and engineering (rather, a lack of both) to make a vehicle suck.

  43. @friendlynerd: THIS. In general, people who own Toyotas or Hondas are deliriously happy with them, and rarely have problems.

  44. friendlynerd says:

    @Steaming Pile:
    Well-said. It’s not the Americans assembling them, it’s the Americans half-assing the designs to begin with.

    Look at how many Hondas and Toyotas are put together in the US…they’re doing just fine.

  45. aront says:

    These numbers definitely have a bit of fudging in them somewhere… My ’97 Integra has never crossed the 30mpg barrier, even once! And that is including 4 hour highway drives.

    Don’t get me wrong though – it is probably one of the most fun cars out on the road! Even the non-VTEC variety is zippy! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a fuel sipper that isn’t a snore!

  46. toolboy32 says:

    Completely stupid list.
    I drive an ’02 Golf diesel. Except for a $600 timing belt I’ve invested almost nothing into it. I consistently avg around 42-45 mpg no matter how fast I drive.

    The lack of diesels will hopefully go away in the next couple of years. Although I love my VW, a Honda Civic with a diesel would be sweet. If you could drop an oil-sipper into the Prius, I’m sure that it would consistently out-perform the gasoline-electric hybrid by itself.

    For you greenies out there fill it up with B20 diesel and you would reduce your carbon footprint even further.

  47. APFPilot says:

    @Ash78: Luckily my 06 GLI is still under warranty. The A/C crapped out and had to be replaced.

  48. Joe_Bloe says:

    I picked up a ’94 escort with 95k miles for a grand. I’m getting 36 mpg in almost exclusively city driving. 5-speed, air (works), airbag. Parked the Explorer. It’ll pay back in a year.

    And yes, I do know about the reputation of these cars, but this one was one-owner, well cared for, and I’m handy.

  49. sn1per420 says:

    @toolboy32: I really don’t get this obsession with biofuels. People need to realize that while they can reduce your carbon footprint, the use of biofuels, namely E85 made from corn ethanol, takes up a great deal of resources, and has led to the grain shortage we are currently experiencing. The lower carbon footprint is also negated by the fact that E85 burns much less efficiently than gasoline.

  50. BarryT says:

    I’m still driving my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid and getting 46-47 in the city and 55 on the highway. Just follow the old advice: keep to the speed limit, no fast starts or stops, don’t drive like a jerk, use the cruise control as much as possible. I don’t know how they come up with the figure of 38 mpg. I’ve never had it that low, even in the worst conditions.

  51. friendlynerd says:

    Actually the reputation is pretty good…that car is about 75% or more Mazda design. I know a lot of people who have 90s Escorts and have very few if any problems.

  52. quagmire0 says:

    @APF MPG is not guaranteed and varies greatly depending on miles driven per trip, temperature, terrain, and driving style. I’ve got an ’06 Prius and while it doesn’t get the 51/60 as advertised, we easily get 43-50 depending on whether it is winter or summer. I’m kinda disappointed that my 02 Civic (regular) did make the list. Maybe I need to sell it and by a 1st gen Prius. :)

  53. JadoJodo says:

    I’m not sure why the Fit is listed at 38, as my dad owns that car and it gets 47+ stock. Anyways, xBs rock.

  54. Dave on bass says:

    My 2003 MB C230K coupe is rated at 23/31, I think, and I regularly get over that – highest for a highway trip was 38.7mpg, average for a full tank including commuting has been 26 to 28mpg.

    I came to this car from a Land Rover, so I’m absolutely giddy about the mileage – hell, when I bought it, it only had 46k miles on it at 5 years of age, and cost me $15k, so I think that makes it listworthy here.

  55. sleze69 says:

    @sn1per420: Unlike gassers, diesel cars can get biofuel from waste vegetable oil. It’s cheap and doesn’t damage the food supply economy like the whole ethanol craze.

  56. battra92 says:

    I really wanted a Mini when I bought a new car last year.

    @toolboy32: The lack of diesels will hopefully go away in the next couple of years. Although I love my VW, a Honda Civic with a diesel would be sweet. If you could drop an oil-sipper into the Prius, I’m sure that it would consistently out-perform the gasoline-electric hybrid by itself.

    It’d be nice but the market doesn’t like $5 a gallon Diesel. This is a market where Math skills are secondary to feeling good about yourself.

  57. greyb1 says:

    @Ash78: I totally agree. I drive a diesel Jetta and LOVE it! It gets close to 50 mpg on a normal basis. The other day, I took it on a road trip and got 62.9 mpg. Also, I have never had any reliability problems with it. It is FAR more reliable than American cars I have had…

  58. quagmire0 says:

    I’d probably join the Diesel revolution if Biodiesel became widely available.

    As for the whole import vs. domestic debate, the fact is that US automakers rode the ‘big is better’ trend too long. Meanwhile, foreign automakers who stuck by their smaller vehicles were ready to take advantage of the cost of gas and the economic volatility. Not to mention that Honda and Toyota vehicles are just plain solid. There’s always exceptions, but on the whole they are much more reliable. I’ve got 130k on my Civic, and aside from some dings and dents and a bad strut way back when, I’ve had zero issues. *knock on wood*

  59. @aront: Depends on if you have the 4-cylinder or the 6. My 1994 (on this list – older than 10 years…) gets 32MPG regularly, but it’s the 4-cylinder.

    I live in LA – the land of the eternal gridlock. If my car was ever permitted to reach highway speeds, I’d probably get better mileage.

  60. Pixel says:

    @Steaming Pile: I have an ’04 xB and my 90day mpg average is just over 35mpg. The last few tanks have been 37mpg+. On a recent 200mile backroads trip I average just over 45mpg. Driving technique can net some amazing mpg from a scion.

    And yes the new ones are useless in all respects except ‘tude, which judging by the sales numbers they got wrong too.

  61. SuffolkHouse says:

    I’m happy to see not one American car on this list.

    Ever since the car companies came out of the White House following their visit with Pres. Bush, singing his song about national health care, I vowed never to buy another American car. But my purchasing habits won’t be needed to sink the “American” car companies who don’t give spit about American workers or well-being. Their lack of innovation and short-sightedness, evidently, will be enough.

  62. Parramore says:

    @Steaming Pile: @friendlynerd: A big part of reliability and perceived “quality” is maintenance. If we’re gonna make generalizations, the Japanese makes tend to be more resistant to owner neglect. Personally, I’d rather drive my Detroit ‘piece of crap’ than one of Honda or Toyota’s transportation appliances.

  63. ryan_h says:

    we just got my wife a new scion Xd, and during a recent trip, while driving on the highway at around 60mph, we were averaging 40MPG. her usual MPG is around 33-35. not too bad. looks way better than the Xa also.

  64. SuffolkHouse says:

    @Steaming Pile:
    YES, The Japanese cars are well manufactured, and many of them are built RIGHT IN THE US. This dispels the myths out there that things in the US are built like shit because of lazy or greedy American workers.

    It’s management stupid!

  65. kwjayhawk says:

    I have an 05 corolla and I have increased my fuel economy 8mpg by driving 60 on the highway. Before I would tear around at 80mph and get 32ish but now that I go 60 I get 38

    a savings of almost 8 bucks a tank! That really adds up!

  66. Mjolnir427 says:

    I don’t care how you slice the reliability numbers, or how you feel about domestic manufacturers.

    When your list is based on reliability and cost, and you choose an out-of-warranty Integra but ignore the hundreds of thousands of Cobalts and Focii that are still in warranty, cost less than $10,000, and get better mileage than the Acura, your list has no credibility.

    How can you ignore vehicles that have the same buy-in cost, get better mileage, and have zero repair bills?

  67. philipbarrett2003 says:

    It scares me that cars we consider to be economical get 1 mpg better than a BMW 3 Series!

  68. LuciferV8 says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Seconded.

  69. darkryd says:

    Sweet! My Mini Cooper made the list.

  70. darkryd says:

    And you know, just because its a hybrid, doesn’t mean it has to look like a wimpy doofus of a car. Seriously, Honda, could you make the Insight look any weaker?

  71. darkryd says:

    And is this mileage in-city or highway??

  72. failurate says:

    @silencedotcom: I hope those are Irish miles.

  73. Me - now with more humidity says:

    @henrygates: What the hell are you talking about? None are being made anymore? Tell that to Toyota, Honda, Scion and Mazda.

  74. beavis88 says:

    @Mjolnir427: You ignore them because zero repair bills is not the same as zero repair COST, and certainly not the same as “reliability”. I don’t care if it’s free to fix or not, if a car is likely to be in the shop every month or two, it’s an expensive car! Time is money, after all.

  75. Raziya says:

    No mention of my Focus…which was listed at 39 MPG when I bought it last year.

  76. b612markt says:

    Don’t forget to check crash test ratings… it’s nice to save money on gas – but sucks to be mauled in an accident because your fuel-sipping tiny car doesn’t have a five-star rating.

  77. MeOhMy says:

    @beavis88: Exactly. A warranty doens’t mean a car is reliable! I don’t want it fixed for free, I want it not to break in the first place!

  78. GoPadge says:

    @Steaming Pile: I’ve got to disagree with the comments about VW’s reliability. They can make great cars. My ’97 Jetta GLS (with 230,000 miles) has been great. I’ve owned it since 1999 and since then the only routine maintenance I’ve done is regular oil changes with synthetic oil.

    The only repairs have been an A/C compressor in 2004 (~$250 and I installed it), a sparkplug was blown out of the block in 2006 ($200 at the dealer), and a rebuilt transmission in 2007 ($1400). That not bad at all for a car built in Mexico.

    The only problem with it is the gas engine….

  79. tevetorbes says:

    Listen, everyone who keeps chiming in with “My XYZ gets ABC miles to the gallon which is NOWHERE NEAR what the crapola EPA says it gets.”

    The estimates are, get this, estimates. They will differ with your driving habits, skills, and abilities. I don’t know how exactly they compute their averages, but there is bound to be many outliers that are nowhere near the quoted averages.

    Additionally, I see plenty of boobs who don’t know how to drive their auto with a manual tranny ride out the clutch at every red light. Hell yeah your economy is going to eat it as you are effectively revving your engine and going 0 miles. Guess what 0 miles divided by even an arbitrarily small fraction of a gallon is in MPG? In that same vein, ‘punching it’ from a dead stop and then slamming the brakes at the next red light isn’t doing your car any favors either.

    Make sure your tires are at their recommended air pressure, change your oil and filters when it is recommended and don’t drive like a crazy lunatic on the run from the highway patrol.

    Oh and look out for people on bicycles or scooters- there will be many MANY more of them in the coming days/weeks/months/years.

  80. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    I love these lists as they always leave out the best fuel efficient cars… No not the SmartCar by Mercedes, but rather the VW Turbo Diesels. I drive a 2001 VW New Beetle TDI and regularly get 50mpg combined city/Hwy. This is not the VW Rabit of the 70’s with its anemic smoky diesel… these are clean running, fast and well appointed cars. I have over 100k miles on it and have had very few repairs… set of glow plugs and plug harness, and alternator rebuild (VW paid for most of that). The cars in this list are almost all smaller than my bug. The best fuel sipper in the list is only a two seater with no comforts. Why do people buy these cars when their are fantastic fuel efficient options available with all the comforts?

    My car has been chipped and that adds 25hp to the standard 90 hp TDI…Remember people that diesels do with high torque what gasoline does with high HP… I have the chip always turned off now since I can spin the wheels when the light turns green without it. I found I had to be extra attentive when the chip was turned on or I would find myself doing close to 100mph on the highway and passing the other fine German automobiles with ease, not realizing the speed because of the comfort of the ride. This car is even a great performer on snow and ice during our Canadian winters (with snow tires on all four corners of course), and no need to plug it in… it has always started even in -40 weather…

    I highly recommend if you get the chance to give VW TDI’s a try… and yes I know that the TDI’s now available are even better than my 8 year old bug, as they are made for the new low sulfur fuels now in use throughout North America.

  81. failurate says:

    @Steaming Pile: The Ford Focus is built in Mexico.
    But so is the Nissan Sentra and VW Jetta.

  82. HPCommando says:

    The Yaris has problems that outweigh the mileage value, per the CR article.

    However, my 2007 Honda Fit Sport w/manual transmission is getting 42mpg highway and about 37mpg average.

    What’s truly nice is the intelligent maintenance feature on-board…let’s you know when it needs to be tended to if you miss something in your own visual inspections.

  83. toolboy32 says:

    @sn1per420: @sn1per420:

    Completely agree with you, especially on the E85.
    Notice I said
    “For you greenies out there, fill it up with B20 diesel and you would reduce your carbon footprint even further.”

    I made no mention of E85. I believe if you take a look at it Biodiesel is much more economical to produce that Ethanol. Corn ethanol in particular should be outlawed instead of heavily subsidized.

    My carbon footprint could easily fit a grizzly bear, as I work over an hour from my home.

  84. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @tevetorbes: Relax, man. If I was shopping for a car and was considering buying a certain model, I would appreciate hearing from someone who can tell me what kind of mileage he/she gets doing the same things I do, like running the A/C and occasionally shifting into lower gears to pass slowpokes on the highway.

  85. HawkWolf says:

    I have an 05 xB and I’ve gotten about 35mpg highway if I stick it to 65. If you’re driving 80 on the highway, you’re gonna get crummier mileage.

    It’s also a tin can, and I think the emissions profile is horrible.

    However, it was cheap and holds a ton of stuff and I can park in a compact car spot and still open the door enough to get out.

  86. strangeffect says:

    @Me: I, too, would like to know what the hell he’s talking about.

    I really do wish they’d kickstart production on the 2003 Prius.

  87. zyodei says:

    If you ask me, cars have gotten worse and worse recently.

    My 1990 I-4 Ford Probe pulled better than 40 MPG driving with a full load, windows down, cruis control engaged on flat terrain, on a cross country move. It was 100% reliable too, NEVER gave a problem one single time. Not once.

    New cars have worse MPG, feel bloated to drive, are harder to fix, and certainly aren’t any more reliable. As gas prices crest $4 a gallon and might head to 6, what happened to the Ford Aspire and Geo Metro?

    The only advantage you can give for a new car is safety, also probably the #1 reason for the popularity of SUVs..but you know what?

    You want a safe car? Here’s what you do – PAY ATTENTION! Driving is inherently dangerous. Stay alert at all times. Drive carefully. Drive defensively. Notice if other cars are driving erratically. Listen to your intuition on the road. Always pretend you’re driving a $10 Million 1933 Duesenberg. DON’T GET IN AN ACCIDENT.

    If you’re not alert enough to avoid accidents, don’t buy an SUV, don’t worry about side curtain air bags. Ride the bus.

    And then, work on becoming a more alert, awake human being.

  88. Tulldren says:

    2000 Dodge Intrepid – Factory states 17 in the city 27 on the Highway. * After Gas Additive from my website = 23.5 in city , 34.8 on the Highway. I am mad at the gas but not for weeks! Nice.

  89. ppiddyp says:

    I drive a 20 year old BMW 5-series with 230K miles on it. I drive like an asshole. I get 15-20mpg and it only takes premium. It runs so rich that backing out of the garage on a cold morning will give you a good contact high.

    On the other hand, I only drive it about 50 miles a week, don’t commute by car, bought it $1800 and insurance very little…So, I come out way ahead financially compared to someone who drives a Prius 500 miles a week. And I have more fun.

    Walk or bike to work. If you’re too far from work, move or get a new job. You don’t have to live in NYC to commute by person power. Any small city will do. Think of it as an investment: gas will get to the point where a long commute will be prohibitively expensive, even in a car that gets 50mpg. Yeah, it sucks to change your way of life, but not as much as having the gas pump bleed you to death.

    Eliminating one commute by car in a 2-person household is probably the biggest single money saver out there. Americans spend ~13-15% of their income on transportation. Much of that spending is elective.

  90. acasto says:

    I have an ’02 Echo myself and absolutely love it. I easily get mileage in the upper 30s and over 40 on long trips on the interstate. Combined with working a lot from home, I typically spend less than $30-$50/month on gas.

  91. PurpleSW2 says:

    Talk about a convoluted way to my first comment…

    I learned of Jalopnik via Beaterreview via

    Anyway, I use my little Saturn wagon like a pickup truck (though it’s not been ‘Caminoed…. it still has a roof in back) and it averages 38 mpg. With over 9 months since the last “aw crap”…. for nearly 200k miles on the odo, that’s pretty good in the reliability department.

    I’m amazed that Saturn s-series isn’t on the list.

    Agreed with zyodei… I’ve test driven a number of newer cars that on paper should rival or exceed my current ride. You’d think with 12 years, SOMEONE would come up with something that had as much power (as an early Saturn? That’s not asking much), handled as well (see former), and could haul as much stuff for the same relative economy.

  92. friendlynerd says:

    I had a 1999 Elantra that I liked from a performance, style, and comfort standpoint. From a repair standpoint though, it was literally in the shop every month.

    While repairs were free under the incredible warranty, it didn’t include a loaner car! So I was forced to beg for friend’s cars while my POS was in the shop because I definitely couldn’t afford to pay for a loaner (I was in college at the time)

  93. PierreGrzybowski says:

    I’ve got the 2008 Honda Fit and am very happy with it.

    Good mpg, very fun to drive, and you can move a tremendous amount of cargo if you need to.

    I also moved close enough to work that I can bike it.

  94. scootinger says:

    What about 2003 (and later) Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix? I drive a Vibe (with automatic transmission) and I can easily get 33-34 mpg on the highway, and regular driving gets me 28 mpg or so. It would be better than some of these (ie Mazda3 and Mini) with a manual transmission.

    It’s fairly roomy, has a lot of cargo room, and is very reliable (both models are Toyota Corolla-based). Plus, the Vibe in particular may be a good value for the money, as it usually sells for less than an equivalent Toyota would sell for because of the Pontiac name (same thing with Chevy/Geo Prizm, which are rebadged Corollas).

  95. Britt says:

    My brother picked up his 2008 Toyota Yaris yesterday. It’s quite lovely, and he gets a $1000 rebate from the government because of its efficiency. Woo hoo.

  96. ludwigk says:

    My ’01 Toyota Avalon gets pretty crappy gas mileage (just above awful), and I’ve been thinking about trading in for a more fuel efficient car, or maybe just buying a second if its like a $10,000 used vehicle with great mpg. Problem is, I borrowed my friends ’07 Prius for 2 days, and I kind of hated driving it.

    That, and the fact that I average about 4200 miles a year (I PT to work every day) makes me think that my pseudo-crappy gas mileage is better than the impact of an entire other car. That and my boat comfortably seats 5 adults, which the Prius definitely doesn’t do (even though we’ve shoved 7 adults into it before).

  97. TechnoDestructo says:


    Consumer Reports has a long and proud history of fucking up anything to do with cars.

  98. Kelly says:

    I’m looking at the EPA new and old figures for our two rides.

    Princess, the ’02 RX300 AWD has new figures of 16 city/21 hwy, and babying it, I can get 21.8 in-town. It’s gotten as much as 32, more than once, on highway trips.

    The Tank, my ’89 420 SEL’s new figures are 14 city/17 hwy, and if I drive it like the Stig, after he’s dead six months, I can get 17.8 out of it, again, in-town. Highway, 60 MPH or 85 MPH, it returns right at 21.8. Odd, but then, it’s German.

    We’ll be keeping them, as it’s foolish to buy a third car which will require insurance and the like, to buy *maybe* 10 MPG…though oil has been on a tear the past 48 hours, so…

    Is that the last V8 Interceptor I hear???

  99. SagarikaHizane says:

    I really dislike these reports that do not list diesels in fuel
    comparisons, My 2006 Jetta TDI (rated 36 city, 41 highway) gets an
    actual mixed driving of 44mpg (average mileage for 2008). That is better
    rated mileage than 10 of the listed cars and actual mileage is better
    than 14 of the 16. As for mods to get the good mileage, I use cruise
    control to run the speed limit on highways, I watch further ahead to
    reduce the need for braking, no jackrabbit starts, and have aired the
    tires to 38psi cold (tire max 52psi, VW recommended is 35psi). I do not
    turn off at stop lights, do not coast out of gear. Everyone should try
    to do what I have done to help mileage, it would reduce wrecks and
    reduce fuel use.

    @Steaming Pile

    +sipping-cars#c6065006> : I have had no problems with the car and have
    heard of no reliability problems with the MkIV and MkV VWs. Are you
    still boycotting Ford over the Explorer roll-overs? Most Toyotas I have
    seen fall apart at 150K-170K miles. Diesel engines that I have
    experience with last past 300K.

  100. Maymar says:

    @ludwigk: Have you thought about a Hybrid or 4-cyl Camry? The smaller engine will use much less fuel, and it shouldn’t be too big of a difference from your Avalon.

    I average about 27mpg out of a ’97 Cavalier. It’s mostly city, but I try and get into fourth gear as often as possible. I’ll also be switching over to synthetic oil this weekend (got a free case), hopefully that’ll make a difference like Castrol claims. I know it’s not exceptional for a small car, but it’s a cheap beater.

  101. sn1per420 says:

    @toolboy32: Hmm, I didn’t know about B20. I had heard a lot about E85 though, because so many people are trying to hype it up as the solution to global warming, when it clearly isn’t even close to a solution.

  102. chucklebuck says:

    @Steaming Pile: I’m with you there. We have the boxy xB, the new one has no soul.

  103. jimconsumer says:

    Yeah, fat fucking chance finding an Insight for that price. I could sell my ’01 today for $12k – $15k. Also, did you quote the mileage for a CVT or something? With ~80k miles my 5 speed’s lifetime average is 68mpg and I hot rod the thing around town. The only time I’ve seen less than 60mpg is on long freeway trips, where I average ~55mpg doing 70+ miles per hour.

  104. Illiterati says:

    The comments are so bold in this post!

    Anyway, I drive a 2006 Kia Rio5 hatchback that averages 35 highway, 32 in town. Highly recommend this car. Also, because it’s a hatchback, it can haul a truly surprising amount of sizable stuff–more than most SUVs, which often have a suprisingly small cargo area. I’m talking multiple 5gal trees/shrubs, bags of compost, 42-inch flat screen tv, etc. And it actually looks kinda cool for a hatchback.

    Also, slowing down a little, as mentioned earlier, helped gain a couple mpg.

  105. CamilleR says:

    I’ve been getting about 35 mpg with my 2008 Yaris (41 mpg the week I had to do a lot of freeway driving). It’s also surprisingly roomy on the inside. The only thing I really hate about it is that the cupholders are directly in front of the vents.

  106. CaractacusP says:

    Meh. Still have a 2001 Focus wagon hitting 100k that gets 30 mpg.

  107. bjarmson says:

    WTF is going on with auto makers. In 1989 I bought a 1986 Acura Integra with 60,000 miles on it. Went like a bat out, handled great, got better than 30 mpg. Fast forward to 2008, 22 years later and virtually nothing but a few hybrids get anything much better. Has there been no research into better gas mileage in the last 20+ years? Are the auto makers in collusion with the oil companies? What’s going on here? You’d think they could be producing a selection of cars in the 35-40 mpg range.

  108. BonnibelBaazo says:

    No mention of the Smart ForTwo?

  109. zyodei says:

    @PurpleSW2: Nice…I’ve been shopping around for my first car in awhile, I’m not too concerned with speed or luxury, just utility…and a Saturn wagon I saw on CL earlier today is on top of the list :)

  110. FrankReality says:

    My 99 Saturn SL2 manual transmission w/ 130,000 miles on it is now getting 43 MPG, most of which is highway driving.

    Most of that increase from my normal 35 MPG is due to driving very conservatively with gradual acceleration, minimizing use of brakes, planning traffic signals to conserve momentum when possible, rerouting to slower, lesser traveled roads, avoiding peak traffic times and avoiding drive throughs.

    In the 65 MPH limits I drive between 58 and 60 MPH, and on the 55 MPH back roads I go between 45 and 50 MPH. And no, I am not a traffic hazard due to driving during off peak times.

    And yes, safety is very important and I will not get anything smaller.

    Other tips – keep tire pressure at the high side of the recommended pressure range, take any unnecessary weight out of the car, use synthetic fluids in the engine and the transmission.

  111. Nick_Bentley says:

    I like the Insight but forget that price, Ebay had one with a salvaged title for twice that, and one with 200,000+ miles for a lot more, and it needed new batteries and a lot more. I’d much rather by a way back mid 80’s CRX for beans and restore it and upgrade some things. Sweet car but even on Ebay they are so in demand that the prices are insane even for a junker.

  112. FuzzyPlushroom says:

    Well, we just got 31 MPG out of an ’01 New Beetle 1.8T… Your mileage, literally, may vary.

    In short: Anything with four cylinders and a stickshift can do quite well. Yawn.

  113. krom says:

    I get a great kick out of seeing my current car of 8 years on this list.

    You laughed at my cute little car. Now I get to laugh even harder at your gas-guzzling monsters.

  114. sarcastibitch says:

    @bjarmson: I am pretty sure that the reason milage hasn’t increased drastically is that they’ve had to do other things to decrease emissions that screw with engine efficiency. Also all the “creature comforts” add weight, as do security features. Look at the size of a Civic from ’06 and ’86.

  115. competentgirliegirl says:

    HEY! to all the diesel heads: you are killing people with asthma with your diesel fumes. It’s been proven, diesel fumes make asthma worse and they have also been indicated as a possible carcinogen. Just get a gas car or an electric/hybrid and SAY NO TO DIESEL!

  116. TechnoDestructo says:


    EPA estimates are not, and never have been unrealistic. You are just an inferior driver. Even using AC (which was not a factor in the original test procedure) it has been possible on every AC-equipped car I’ve owned to exceed EPA MPG. Easy, even. Old MPG. Without driving like an asshole.

    If you aren’t getting that fuel economy, either there’s something wrong with your car, or there is something wrong with you. Either should be repairable.

    If you have a 1996 or later car, get a Scangauge. Real-time feedback on fuel economy should help you figure out what you’re doing wrong. (Even if the numbers aren’t accurate, you’ll still know when you’re going higher or lower)

  117. jibbly says:

    My goodness I had a 95 Mazda Protege manual that averaged 39mpg. You’re telling me that after 13 years fuel economy on ultra compacts have gotten worse?

    Pah, I don’t miss owning a car anymore.

  118. boytoyo says:

    my 01 avalon does 23 around town,and 31 on the highway.No way im driving any of those little toys!

  119. farker says:

    Just got an ’07 Prius. Now that the EPA has revised its MPG formula, any comparison to numbers using the old formula are pointless. I get about 45 mpg on average with about 60% highway driving.

    Use the new numbers from in any comparison, even for older cars. It more accurately reflects highway/city driving for the average person, as well as incorporates thing such as A/C.

  120. almk says:

    @Dead Wrestlers Society: I’m sure that you are much more likely to get yourself killed in an SUV than you are in a Honda Fit. We’ve owned one for exactly a year now, and it’s a great car. We did a LOT of safety research before we bought, and the Fit has 5-4 star rating in every category, and standard side curtain airbags, all for under $15,000.

    When you’re driving it, it’s really not as small as it looks. It’s also great for fitting into urban parking spaces that Earth Destroyers can’t quite make it into. :)

  121. themossie says:

    @Steaming Pile
    Which engine/tranny combo do you have?

    My friend’s 2.0 automatic gets 26 mpg or worse with 75% highway driving.

    I’d be shocked to see 30 mpg out of the baseline Mazda 3 automatic under city/highway mixed conditions.
    The 2.0 MT has 24 city/32 highway EPA mileage, and the 2.3MT has 22/29 EPA.

  122. krom says:

    To be fair btw, the 1998-2001 Prizm is the same as the 1998-2001 Corolla under the hood.

  123. mrearly2 says:

    Yeah, let’s all just rush out and buy a little POS, so we can spend less on gas.
    If the oil companies hadn’t quashed fuel-saving devices in the past, we wouldn’t be using but a fraction of the gas that we do.

  124. 420greg says:

    My wife’s 99 Honda Civic hatchback get 35-38 mpg. Wonder why its not on the list.

  125. n0m4d says:

    TOYOTA MR-2!!! 35+ MPG and FUN!

  126. silyolpooh says:

    I have a 2005 Jetta diesel which averages 44mpg around the city. Sticker was $22k, cost me $18,200 because they were changing body styles.

    As an aside, that’s 44mpg with the AC and radio on at all times, and often charging my phone or laptop.