I have recently made the big decision to upgrade my wheels and buy a new ride. This of course is a big decision, opening up the door for many details to consider when selecting just the right one. An easy decision for me was that I wanted to invest in a car that gets really, REALLY good gas mileage. I’ve done quite a bit of research on which cars get the best gas mileage, what the safety is like, and the accommodations of each. So whether you or someone you know is considering a new car soon, or your curiosity is getting the best of you, read in as I share my findings.
I break my search down into two categories, new and used. Obviously, the most fuel-efficient vehicles are the newer models, so I certainly did entertain the notion of purchasing a brand-new car. But, realizing that I nor I’m sure none of you are made of money, I also did a comprehensive used car search, which came back with some really great results for those of us who are on a budget but still want a car who will stretch the gas as far as it will go.
For my new car hunt, I used FuelEconomy.gov to do a thorough search for the most fuel-efficient cars on the market. (Mind you, this has nothing to do with being the most cost-efficient cars on the market- at least not upfront.) The cars below is from the list that was returned to me, and I did the additional research for the rest of the details. The search returned both cars that take regular gasoline and electric cars. I am personally looking for an automatic car that takes regular gas, so that is what I focused on in this article.
2012 Toyota Prius C: Cost approx. $19,900 - $23,230
The Toyota Prius C came out #1 for non-electric cars with the best gas mileage, coming in at 53 miles per gallon for city driving and 46 MPG for highway driving. It is the forth edition of the Prius. FuelEconomy.gov estimates that the average driver who spends 45% of the time driving on highways, 55% of the time driving in the city, and who logs 15,000 annual miles will spend about $1,150 per year on gas for this car. Notable differences from the Prius C to the rest of its brothers and sisters is that it is the smallest, least expensive and also most fuel-efficient model. Its average of 53 miles per gallon in the city is the highest for any non-electric car.
2012 Toyota Prius: Cost approx. $24,000 - $29,805
The Toyota Prius still gets excellent mileage, about 51 MPG driving in the city and 48 on the highway. FuelEconomy.gov expects a driver to spend $1,150 on gas in a year for this car based on the above standards, the same as with the Prius C. The biggest difference I’ve found is the cost difference. The federal government gave the 2012 Toyota Prius 5 out of 5 stars for safety. Its safety features include anti-lock brakes, traction control, brake override, a tire pressure monitoring system, and a total of 7 airbags.
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid: Cost approx. $24,050
This bad boy averages 44 MPG in the city and 44 on the highway, costing your average driver around $1,300 per year in gas costs. This car is also one of the safest cars that I think I’ve researched yet. It features front, front side, and side curtain airbags and was named the a “2011 Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety IIHS.) This make and model received top ratings for frontal offset, side impact, and rear impact crash safety tests. And as an added benefit, the 2012 Civic Hybrid qualifies as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle, so it’s extremely environmentally friendly.
The next car listed was the Toyota Prius V, but for the sake of variety in this article, I am hereby skipping it to jump to the next contender:
2012 Lexus CT 200h: Cost approx. $29,120-31,750
The Lexus CT gets about 43 miles per gallon driving in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. Drivers can expect to pay around $1,350 a year on gasoline. It received good ratings in every single category that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety requires testing for, including dynamic rating, driver torso, rear passenger torso, driver head and neck, overall front, and rear passenger head protection.
As a note, for the prices below I used Kelley Blue Book to look up the price that a buyer could expect to pay for a used car. I kept my searches strictly to 2007 models to keep the search streamlined and easy to compare in the article. All quotes are based on cars with 70,000 miles on them, being purchased from a dealer at the suggested retail price.
2007 Toyota Prius: Cost approx. $22,000- 16,733
The Prius is undoubtedly the most expensive car on the market if you’re looking for one in the category of fuel-efficiency, however it does make up for the initial cost with its incredible MPG. Some pros I’ve read for this make and model include low emissions, lots of interior room, great build quality, and ease in maneuvering in tight areas. Cons include that it is less powerful as other mid-size sedans, and that the fuel economy in the real world—while still very good—does not live up to the estimates put forth by the EPA.
2007 Toyota Yaris Sedan 4D: Cost approx. $7,921 - $11,475
The Yaris gets about 36 MPG on the highway and 29 in the city, and has the added benefit of being a low-emissions vehicle. I’ve seen Toyota Sites offering leases on these cars for as little as $79 per month, with an approved credit score check. I’ve read good reviews for the drivability of the base sedan, and it comes with a pretty good list of safety features: child seat anchors, front seatbelts pretensioners, emergency interior trunk release, headrests, and ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes.
2007 Hyundai Accent GLS Sedan 4D: Cost approx. $8,751- $12,665
This car appears to be a great value for what it is. It is a 4-door that averages 35 MPG for highway driving and 32 for city driving. Its generous list of safety features include six airbags—in the front, seat-mounted side-impact, and side-curtain—and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution. The Hyundai Accent is very basic looking, so this car might not be for you if you are looking for a sportier model, but as I said it’s a great value for what is has to offer.
2007 Chevrolet Aveo LS Sedan 4D: Cost approx. $7,891 - $12,010
Another cost-effective as well as gas-effective vehicle, the Chevrolet Aveo boasts 35 MPG on the highway. The Chevrolet Aveo boasts a lot of security features, including front-impact airbags, side-impact airbags, and seatbelt pretensioners. I found the Aveo to be a pretty good-looking car, and definitely for the money that you’d pay for a used model. If you want a sleeker model, you should look at something closer to a Prius, but if you don’t mind a fairly average-looking sedan at a decent price, this might be the one for you.
DK is an enthusiastic financial blogger and surfer. Find him at RoadFish.com