Top 10 Cheapest 40 MPG Cars

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad

Fuel efficiency is at the forefront of every new car-buyer’s mind. No one wants to spend $30,000 and find themselves throwing money away at the gas pump, so we’ve compiled a list of the cheapest vehicles that get 40 miles per gallon (combined) in order from most expensive to least expensive.

While great advancements have been made in internal combustion engine technology over the past few years it still comes as little surprise that every car on this list is a hybrid. For those looking for cars that get 40 mpg on the highway alone, keep an eye open for our top-10 next week! And before the comments start rolling in, the $32,000 Prius PHEV Plug-in seen above, did not make our list, due to its limited availability. For fans of the plug-in Prius, check out our latest review.

Our list starts off with the luxurious Lexus CT200h. Starting at just $32,945 after delivery, this little Lexus delivers a combined 42 mpg. That impressive number is all thanks to Toyota’s hybrid synergy drive (something you’ll hear a lot about in this list) which combines a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to make a total of 134 hp, more than enough to move this 3,200 lb. five-door hatchback. To differentiate the driving experience, the CT200h is also considered to be sportier and more enjoyable to drive than the Prius, on which it is based. Check out the full specs on the Lexus CT200h.
All-New Ford Fusion Hybrid – September 17, 2012 — The all-new Ford Fusion is launched in Santa Monica, Calif., as media have the first opportunity to drive the new product. The all-new Ford Fusion Hybrid builds on the company's commitment to give fuel-efficiency-minded customers the Power of Choice. The new Ford Fusion hybrid is targeted…
Ford is putting a lot of effort into its hybrid powertrain strategy, and the Fusion is the second most expensive vehicle on our list, costing $27,995. Despite the higher price-tag, the Fusion enjoys an EPA rating of 47 mpg combined. Ford accomplishes this impressive fuel mileage thanks to the pairing of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and a 7.6kWh battery which helps the Fusion Hybrid get a total of 188 hp. Ford makes it all come-together with its eCVT. Ford liked this setup so much, that it’s put to use again in the more affordable compact people hauler, the C-Max hybrid. Read our review of the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, where we found the EPA ratings hard to reproduce. If you’re still interested in learning more about the Ford Fusion Hybrid be sure to build and price one on our new car buying page.
The Prius v is the bigger version of the popular Toyota hybrid and competes with the aforementioned C-Max. It’s designed to have more cargo hauling capability, as well as more space for passengers. At just $27,445 the price is right too, with the Prius v netting 42 mpg combined. Using the tried and true Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system, the Prius v makes just 134 hp, which is rather low for a vehicle of this size. Check out the full specs of the Toyota Prius v right here and check out our review of last years Prius v
The more affordable alternative to the Fusion Hybrid is the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Now the Toyota hybrid tech is available in a more uniform package, perfect for those who can’t stand the styling of the Prius. At just $26,935 the Camry Hybrid gets a combined EPA rating of 41 mpg. The car also differs from the Prius in how it feels behind the wheel with power coming from the unison of a 2.5-liter engine and an electric motor, which makes a combined 200 hp. Performance is no slouch either here, with the four-door family car hitting 60 mph in about 7.6 seconds. Not bad! We recently compared the Camry Hybrid to the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and found the Camry to be top notch. See the full specs of the Toyota Camry Hybrid right here.
The Ford C-Max is the perfect hybrid for those who like the Fusion Hybrid, but need more cargo and passenger space. Fortunately, the C-Max is also cheaper than the Fusion. While it doesn’t have the same great looks as the sedan it does use the same powertrain and still manages a solid 47 mpg combined on the EPA cycle, which is not bad at all considering the C-Max is available at just under $26,000. We have a review of the C-Max Hybrid, where we found it to be more enjoyable to drive than the Prius v. If you’re interested in the C-Max Hybrid, get all the details at our new car buying page.
Boasting a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine paired to an electric motor, the Jetta Hybrid certainly has more pep in its step than the Prius. The final blow comes with the use of VW’s quick-shifting DSG dual-clutch transmission. That means that the Jetta hybrid gets 45 mpg combined, while costing just $25,790. Be sure to see our full review of the Jetta Hybrid and see the full specs of the fuel-friendly Jetta.
2013 Honda Civic Hybrid.
Unlike many of the other hybrids on this list, the Honda Civic here is a mild-hybrid, which means it can’t run on electric power alone. None-the-less, the compact gets 44 mpg combined, thanks to a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and a helpful electric motor. It all comes in at just over $25,150, making the Civic a pretty solid bargain when it comes to fuel savings. Check out the full specs of the 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid.
It’s surprising to see just how affordable the Toyota Prius is. At $24,995, the Prius sits at the number 3 spot on our top 10 list. The usual suspects are at play here, with the 134 hp powertrain paired to a CVT transmission. It’s the classic one-two-punch when it comes to fuel efficiency, and it’s a proven combo. The Prius hits a whopping 50 mpg combined on the EPA cycle. We compared the Prius to the Jetta TDI and found the Prius to be the more fuel friendly vehicle. See the full specs of the Toyota Prius right here.
It’s more than $5,000 cheaper than the normal Prius, and is about half-the size too. The miniscule Prius c subcompact is the first hybrid to come in below $20,000, and is good for 50 mpg combined on the EPA cycle. Don’t expect anything too crazy in the tiny Prius c. It uses the 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine from the Toyota Yaris, as well as an electric motor to make just under 100 hp combined. This is all paired to a CVT to help make the lightweight Prius c as fuel efficient as possible. See the full specs of the tiny Prius c right here.
2013 Honda Insight.
The most affordable hybrid on the list is the Honda Insight, which uses a mild hybrid setup like the Honda Civic Hybrid. This time however the engine is a smaller 1.3-liter engine paired with a less-advanced nickel metal hydride battery pack to make a total of 98 hp, and help the car net 42 mpg combined. A less impressive specimen than most on the list it’s at least the cheapest at just $19,390 to start. Se the full specs of the Honda Insight right here.
Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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2 of 4 comments
  • BOBTECH BOBTECH on Aug 19, 2013

    Love my 33-38 mpg Fusion for an aggressive driver.

  • Fuel Saver Fuel Saver on Aug 22, 2013

    with Prius average around 51.5 mpg why are the 30 something's in the conversation Prius still around 25kGive Toyota credit where credit is due .Sure its not a performance car in the sense that most of us think of but it tops the list in fuel performance and most can afford