Best Fuel Economy Cars by Segment

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

Owning a car is expensive, and having to fuel it with gasoline at the current, ridiculous prices, only makes matters worse.

Many that are contemplating a new vehicle purchase are starting to put a larger emphasis on fuel economy. The good news is, pound-for-pound, horsepower-to-horsepower, cars have never been more efficient then they are today. Technology has come a long way and the amount of power engineers can extract from internal combustion engines while using the least amount of fuel possible is impressive.

But some cars excel at sipping gasoline more than others. Regardless of size, shape, or drivetrain, there are vehicles designed to put an absolute priority on fuel economy. To highlight the best of the best, we have listed the segment leaders for 13 key car categories below. So if it’s a fuel-frugal car you’re after, take a look at the options below. Note – we will be making a separate list for pure electric vehicles. This article is all about fuel economy.

Most Fuel Efficient Subcompact Car – Mitsubishi Mirage

36 mpg city / 43 mpg hwy

No real surprise seeing the Mitsubishi Mirage make the list here. Currently, it’s the lightest car on sale with one of the smallest engines making the least amount of horsepower. In fact, the Mirage is almost in a class all its own as the next most efficient subcompacts are the larger Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio cousins which can achieve 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway in sedan form. Trailing them slightly is the Nissan Versa which achieves one mpg less in both the city and highway ratings.

Promoted Product: Sailun Atrezzo SH408

With fuel costs as they are, automotive fuel efficiency is critical. Another factor high on the importance scale is how well your tires perform, even when conditions aren’t great. The Sailun Atrezzo SH408 is a great option for the best fuel-efficient cars. It has a large contact patch to keep the car on the road, and staggered tread patterns with circumferential grooves to channel water and reduce hydroplanning in wet driving conditions.

The Atrezzo SH408’s multi-pitch tread design and proprietary rubber compound work in harmony to reduce road noise, making your drive as pleasant as possible. After all, what good does better fuel economy do if you can’t stand the drive?

This tire has excellent ratings for wet and dry conditions and outstanding ride comfort. It comes with a 55,000 mile/100,000km or 60-month tread life warranty (see website for additional warranty information in your region), making it a great buy for your fuel-efficient car.

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Most Fuel Efficient Compact Gas Car – Hyundai Elantra

33 mpg city / 43 mpg hwy

The new Hyundai Elantra is a large compact car, and when trimmed properly, also a very efficient one. It matches the much smaller Mitsubishi Mirage in terms of highway fuel economy and still delivers 33 mpg in the city. The all-new Honda Civic sedan comes in at a close second, matching the Elantra’s city fuel economy numbers, but falling a bit short on the highway. Placing third in compact car efficiency is the Toyota Corolla Hatchback which can travel 32 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway.

Most Fuel Efficient Compact Hybrid Car – Hyundai Ioniq Blue

58 mpg city / 60 mpg hwy

This may come as a bit of a surprise to those who haven’t been paying close attention to the compact hybrid market lately. But no, Toyota’s iconic Prius is not the most efficient hybrid powered compact currently on sale. That honor goes to the Hyundai Ioniq Blue which matches the second place Prius’ 58 mpg city figure, but easily trumps the Toyota’s highway figure of 53 mpg. In fact, Hyundai’s other compact hybrid, the Elantra Hybrid, is nearly on par with the Prius delivering less city efficiency at 53 mpg, but better highway economy at 56 mpg.

Most Fuel Efficient Compact Plug-in Hybrid Car – Toyota Prius Prime

133 MPGe

When it comes to compact plug-in hybrids, the Toyota Prius Prime is the champion. In fact, it’s the most efficient gasoline-powered vehicle period. With an incredible 133 MPGe, it’s far ahead of the next best offering, the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in which is rated at 119 MPGe. From there, things really drop off as there are no more purpose built compact plug-in hybrids. The next most efficient vehicle that could qualify for this segment is the BMW 330e that is rated at 75 MPGe.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Hybrids with AWD

Most Fuel Efficient Midsize Gas Car – Honda Accord

30 mpg city / 38 mpg hwy

Honda has a long history of creating very efficient gasoline engines, and that continues on today. The Accord is a larger mid-size sedan, but still capable of returning 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. Just a hair less efficient are the Kia K5 and Nissan Altima which match the Accord in highway efficiency, but fall short of the Honda by 1 mpg in the city. For the Toyota Camry, the opposite is true as the sedan is 2 mpg worse than the Honda in the city, but actually 1 mpg better on the highway.

Most Fuel Efficient Midsize Hybrid Car – Toyota Camry Hybrid

51 mpg city / 53 mpg hwy

The Toyota Camry regains its crown when it comes to midsize sedan hybrids. Toyota was an originator in this segment and the brand’s expertise shows. The Camry virtually ties the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Blue which is one mpg less efficient in the city, but one mpg more frugal on the highway. A bit further behind these two cars is the Honda Accord Hybrid that can only muster 47 mpg in the city and 47 mpg on the highway.

Most Fuel Efficient Midsize Plug-in Hybrid – Audi A7 TFSI e quattro

Most Fuel Efficient Full-Size Gas Car – BMW 740i

22 mpg city / 29 mpg hwy

Large cars aren’t overly fuel efficient. They carry the most weight and have to punch the biggest whole in the air. But that hasn’t stopped engineers from doing everything they can to improve fuel economy. The BMW 740i is a great example. The car is over 207-inches in length, weights in excess of 4,200 lbs, and has 335 hp under the hood. Yet, it’s still capable of achieving 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Mercedes-Benz’s equally large S500 4Matic delivers similar fuel economy figures, but does use a mild hybrid system. The next best large car in term of fuel economy is the Nissan Maxima with ratings of 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

SEE ALSO: Best AWD Sedans on a Budget

Most Fuel Efficient Full-Size Hybrid Car – Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic

22 mpg city / 30 mpg hwy

A lot of Mercedes-Benz midsize and full-size cars use something the company refers to as electric boost. Basically, it’s a mild hybrid system that helps increase total horsepower while also improving fuel economy. When applied to the CLS 450 4Matic, it helps the large four-door coupe achieve 22 mpg in the cit and 30 mpg on the highway. The next most efficient large hybrid sedan is the Lexus LS 500h that falls a bit short at 22 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway.

Most Fuel Efficient Full-Size Plug-in Hybrid Car – Volvo S90 T8 AWD Recharge

66 MPGe

2021 S90

Full-size plug-in hybrids combine performance and passenger comfort with impressive fuel economy. None do it better than the Volvo S90 T8 AWD Recharge that uses a supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to a powerful electric motor. It all adds up to an impressive total of 455 hp which is quite a bit in a car rated for 66 MPGe. That’s a good deal more efficient than the BMW 745e xDrive which is rated at 56 MPGe and the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid that’s rated at 52 MPGe.

Most Fuel Efficient Sports Car Gas – Mazda MX-5 Miata

26 mpg city / 35 mpg hwy

A sports car doesn’t have to be a gas-guzzling monster, and the Mazda MX-5 Miata proves this. With a 181 hp four-cylinder engine under the hood, the lightweight convertible gets similar fuel economy numbers as a lot of compact crossovers. Surprisingly, the next most efficient sports cars are the BMW Z4 sDrive30i and Toyota Supra 2.0 distant cousins that are both rated for 25 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. A bit further back is the Audi TTS at 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

Most Fuel Efficient Sports Car Hybrid – Lexus LC 500h

26 mpg city / 34 mpg hwy

They aren’t a lot of hybrid sports cars on the market, but the two that do exist couldn’t be anymore different. The most efficient option is the beautiful Grand Tourer from Lexus, the LC 500h. Despite housing a 3.5-liter V6 engine, the hybrid drivetrain helps the large LC nearly match the Mazda Miata’s fuel economy figures. The other hybrid sports car is much more performance orientated, the Acura NSX. When driven with restraint, the mid-engine all-wheel drive supercar is able to use just 21 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best AWD Coupes

Most Fuel Efficient Sports Car Plug-in Hybrid – Ferrari SF90 Stradale

51 MPGe

Hard to believe there is just a singular plug-in hybrid sports car, but here it is; the Ferrari SF90 Stradale. With a price tag around a half million dollars, this exotic will be exclusive, but that price buys equally exclusive technology. A 769 hp turbocharged V8 engine is at the heart of the SF90, but a host of electric motors front and rear make the all-wheel drive super Ferrari pump out a combined 986 hp. With nearly quadruple digit levels of hp on tap, the fact the car can achieve a 51 MPGe during relaxed driving is quite impressive.

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April 2, 2024 - reformatted the article.

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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