Top 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Non-Hybrid Family Sedans

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Midsize sedans are a big deal; this segment is one of the most important in the automotive industry. Corporate fortunes are won or lost on the backs of these versatile, hard-working cars.

With gasoline around $4.00 per gallon in many markets, drivers are feeling the summertime squeeze. To combat budget-busting fill-ups here’s a list of the top 10 most fuel-efficient non-hybrid family sedans on the market today. That’s a lot of caveats, but the list of cars is pretty appealing. Let’s explore, shall we?

Chrysler’s stylish new 200 earned itself a spot on this list of midsize misers. This attractive new four-door sedan offers a premium cabin, attractive styling and impressive efficiency. When equipped with the base 2.4-liter “Tigershark” four-cylinder engine and standard nine-speed automatic transmission, the car promises to deliver 23 MPG in city driving and up to 36 on the highway. Its combined score clocks in at an impressive 28 MPG.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Chrysler 200S Review

Beyond the entry-level 184-hp engine there’s also a smooth-running and muscular 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 on the menu. It belts out 295 very healthy ponies and 262 lb-ft of twist. The bent-six is also offered with that cutting-edge nine-speed gearbox.

Toyota’s top-selling Camry comes in ninth place on this Top 10 list. The most efficient non-hybrid version features a 2.5-liter four-banger that delivers 178 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board.

On the efficiency front this car stickers at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 35 out on the open road. Combined it clocks in at 28 MPG. Like the Chrysler listed before the Camry also offers an up-level V6 for customers that want a little more power. It puts out 268 ponies and 248 lb-ft of torque.

The Chevrolet Malibu barely edges out its cross-town rival. In its most efficient form the Bow Tie brand’s midsize offering delivers a combined consumption score of 29 miles per gallon. That figure is derived from its city performance of 25 MPG and its interstate rating of 36.

Base Malibus are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 196 hp and 191 lb-ft of twist. For more thrust a 2.0-liter turbo-four is also offered. It puts out 259 horses and a whopping 295 lb-ft of torque!

Hyundai’s popular Sonata sedan has been refreshed for 2015. The car gains new exterior styling, a fresh interior along with more features and refinement than ever. It’s powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 184 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to a responsive six-speed automatic transmission.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Review

This drivetrain combination returns a claimed 25 miles per gallon in the city and up to 37 on the highway, figures that result in a combined rating of 29 MPG. Upping the efficient ante a special Eco version of the Sonata will launch later this summer. With a 1.6-liter turbo and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission it’s expected to average 32 MPG combined.

One of if not the most stylish car in the midsize segment is Ford’s Fusion. With an Aston Martin-inspired grille, sporty dynamics and EcoBoost torque it’s an enjoyable car, and a pretty thrifty one as well.

For 2015 there’s a new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine on the menu. It delivers 181 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. In its most efficient form (with start/stop technology) the Fusion returns 25 MPG city, 37 highway and 29 combined.

If you want a little more performance at the expense of economy a larger 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine is also offered. It puts out a healthy 240 ponies. But if even better efficiency is desired, Ford also offers a hybrid model as well as a plug-in electric version.

If there was an automotive award for quirkiness Subaru would probably win it every year. This small Japanese brand isn’t afraid of going its own way, tenaciously clinging to boxer-type engines and all-wheel drive.

The Legacy is their midsize offering and it makes a strong case for itself in a crowded segment. With a continuously variable transmission and a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder it stickers at 26 miles per gallon in urban motoring and 36 on the highway; combined it clocks in at 30 MPG. Not bad for a vehicle with all-weather traction. Horsepower totals 175 while torque measures 174 lb-ft, a little less than some of its main rivals but it’s still in the ballpark. For more oomph a 3.6-liter boxer six is also available.

Next up is Honda’s Accord. The most efficient version of this perennially popular sedan features a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a continuously variable transmission. In LX, EX and EX-L models the engine provides 185 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque while “sport” versions get a four-horse bump and one additional lb-ft.

The gearless gearbox, direct fuel injection and other features help maximize the large-print numbers on this car’s window sticker. The best the Accord can muster is 27 city, 36 highway and 30 combined, which is nothing To be ashamed of.

Additionally you can get a manual gearbox if you wish; a refined V6 is also available, as are hybrid and plug-in electric versions.

Driving away with a bronze medal in this Top 10 is Nissan’s jack-of-all-trades Altima. The brand’s longstanding sedan saves drivers money at the pump thanks to its efficient four-cylinder engine and energy-sparing continuously variable transmission.

The car’s 2.5-liter ‘banger delivers 182 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. With a CVT automatically adjusting ratios the Altima delivers 27 miles per gallon in the city and 38 on the “interst8;” combined it should return 31 MPG.

If drivers prefer, Nissan also offers a dramatically more muscular 3.5-liter V6 engine. It delivers 270 hp with 251 lb-ft. Naturally fuel economy is significantly reduced; this version averages just 26 MPG.

Earning itself second-place honors, or scorn as the first loser, is the sporty Mazda 6. From the way its chassis is dialed in to its steering, this car is more Miata than midsize.

All versions of the Mazda6 are powered by a 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. With features like variable valve timing and direct fuel injection it delivers a respectable 184 hp with 185 lb-ft of torque.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mazda6 Review

There’s just one engine available in this car but things get a little more confusing in other areas. A six-speed manual or automatic are offered, but certain models can be equipped with the company’s i-ELOOP energy-storage system.

This technology stores electricity in a capacitor while the vehicle is coasting, power that can be used later to run accessories like air conditioning or the stereo, which reduces the load on the car’s alternator. It’s sort of a hybrid but at the same time not really. Have we misrepresented the facts, stacked the deck or just plain cheated by including a capacitor-equipped car? Let us know in the comments below.

As for fuel economy the Mazda6 with an automatic and i-ELOOP stickers at 28 miles per gallon city and 40 on the highway, accordingly its combined figure is 32 MPG. That same configuration sans the energy-hoarding capacitor rates at 26 city, 38 highway and 30 combined. If you want a manual transmission (and you should!) the car delivers 25, 37 and 29 MPG, respectively.

And thar’ she blows! The most fuel-efficient non-electrified midsize sedan you can spend your hard-earned Benjamins on is a people’s car. If the Volkswagen Passat TDI were a person it’d probably steal ketchup packets from restaurants, reuse paper towels and purchase generic versions of generic-brand products, it’s that miserly.

When equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox the Passat stickers at 31 miles per gallon around town and 43 on the interstate. Combined it clocks in at a whopping 35 MPG! Its 2.0-liter compression-ignition engine cuts a check for 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.

Models equipped with a six-gear automatic transmission are slightly less efficient but still a lot more miserly than some of the other vehicles on this list. They sticker at 30 MPG city, 40 highway and 34 combined.

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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2 of 7 comments
  • Jack Daniels Jack Daniels on Oct 07, 2014

    Mazda 6. The best and it still has a pulse.

  • Dave Foley Dave Foley on Aug 26, 2015

    Can we please have these lists on pages that at least have a third of the list on one page? This click-count BS has gone WAY too far. I never get to the end of them. When each click only gets me ONE piece of information, I really don't care how much money you make off the ads. I bail quickly. Please stop. The writer and the content deserve more respect than that.