Whether for business or personal use, fuel economy is a key factor you should consider when purchasing a vehicle. Mostly since fuel economy has the most impact on your vehicle overhead mileage costs.
When you add the inflation which has accelerated to 7% in December of 2021 to the equation, it becomes clear why people are increasingly on the lookout for best gas mileage cars.
This needs to be taken into account especially when it comes to company vehicles and in cases where mileage reimbursement is considered.
While the U.S Energy Information Administration forecasts lower diesel and gasoline prices for 2022 and 2023, this still doesn’t mean you should ignore cars with the best gas mileage.
The fuel mileage technology has advanced and lots of today's cars come with a spectacular gas economy. Particularly when you compare it to what you’re trading in. In this post, we’ll explain what features affect your gas mileage, how to compare fuel efficiency between cars, as well as the best mpg cars in 2023.
The Most Important Features of Cars with Best Gas Mileage
There are various factors impacting gas mileage. EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, has its own gas efficiency rating for vehicles on the market. In essence, they rate the city, highway, and combined mileage per gallon for each car. Only the best mpg cars end up on their list. Here are some of the features these vehicles have.
The car’s aerodynamics features have a significant impact on their fuel efficiency. Aerodynamics determine how objects, including vehicles, move through the air. Every environment, including air, provides resistance to objects moving through them. When you drive, your vehicle has to push the air around it to move while also overcoming aerodynamic drag. A car with poor aerodynamics will need more force to do this.
Hence, some of the best gas mileage cars sport the most efficient aerodynamic designs.
Weight and Size
How big and heavy your car is directly impacts how much fuel it consumes. As a rule of thumb, larger cars are also heavier. Of course, this isn’t always the case, since factors like alloys and materials used in car production can lower their weight. But the rule surely applies to most SUVs and pickups.
A bigger size and weight means you need more power to run the vehicle. How good your car is at achieving speed and carrying its own weight along with its passengers depends on how much force it can generate. Thus, bulkier cars are less fuel-efficient, while high mpg cars are smaller and lighter. This ties with aerodynamics since weight and thrust are two key forces of aerodynamics.
Fuel and Engine Power
Obviously, engines have a key role in fuel consumption. For example, in most cases, diesel engines are better than gas engines at burning fuel, while hybrid engines are the most economical overall. Further, engine displacement and horsepower also impact gas economy. While more powerful engines with a larger volume can generate more force, they also consume more fuel. Hence, V8 and V6 engines burn more fuel than smaller four-cylinder engines, for example.
The emission rate doesn’t directly impact the gas economy. Rather, it’s the other way around. Best gas mileage cars often have lower gas emissions since they burn less fuel. This is especially true for ultra-low emission cars—ULEV. So, if you are looking to buy a car that will save you some gas money while also caring for the environment, you might want to take emission rates into consideration.
How You Drive also Affects Your MPG
The nominal MPG you can find on car manufacturer, dealership, and review websites is exactly that - nominal.
Your driving style and weather conditions also impact your vehicle’s actual fuel consumption. Frequent hard braking followed by quick acceleration, as well as idling (during rush hour, for example) will result in your vehicle consuming more fuel per mile traveled. The same applies to heavy A/C usage either for heating or cooling.
In general, driving at a constant speed is the most economical, although not always possible.
Another factor to consider is road elevation. When driving uphill, your vehicle will consume more fuel than normally, as it will need to generate more force. In addition, although nominally more fuel-efficient, weaker engines may struggle on steep terrain, especially if under a heavy load. If you live or work in such an environment, you may want to opt for a more powerful engine, even at the expense of fuel efficiency.
How to Compare High MPG Cars
When it comes to comparing cars based on their fuel efficiency, you need to make sure you’re looking at the right factors. Opting for a car solely based on its advertised fuel economy may not always be the best idea. So far, we’ve outlined several factors that can impact your mpg, so you should have a better understanding of why it can vary as much as it does.
Below, we’ll explain the two most important factors you need to consider before making your decision.
As we said, the car’s EPA rating is the first thing you should check when comparing the best cars for gas mileage. When you visit their website, you’ll see that every vehicle has a miles-per-gallon rating. More precisely, every vehicle has three EPA mpg ratings:
- Mpg in cities
- Highway Mpg
- Combined Mpg
The first pertains to fuel economy in cities and has the highest numerical value by default. The second number tells you how much fuel the car consumes when driving on open roads at a constant speed. Finally, combined mpg represents the nominal average mpg — 55% driving in cities and 45% on open roads.
Diesel vs. Gas vs. Hybrid
As we’ve said, the type of fuel your vehicle runs on is a major factor in terms of gas economy. Typically, diesel-powered engines will get more mpg compared to gas engines. Why? Because diesel fuel has a higher density. This generates more BTU per gallon. Meaning you need to burn less fuel to generate the same amount of power compared to gasoline.
Although diesel may sound like the cheaper option, you should keep in mind that diesel vehicles are more harmful for the environment.
In an ideal world, you should opt for a hybrid engine both for the sake of fuel economy and the ecological impact of fuel emissions. While hybrids may be a more expensive purchase initially, they are, without a doubt, the most fuel efficient cars on the market.
In addition, the government is looking to encourage car buyers to opt for less harmful options, through incentives for electric and hybrid vehicles, so you may want to check if your state offers any grants you can take advantage of.
You’ll also want to consider federal tax credits for electric and hybrid vehicles and what cars are eligible. Combined with state incentives, you could potentially get a car with great fuel economy and a low environmental impact for less than you would have expected.
Our Pick of the 6 Best Gas Mileage Cars
Finally, we move on to the list of the best cars in terms of gas mileage. Although these are our favorites, even if you don’t find what you are looking for on the list, you should get a good idea of why they are the ones that made it to our top 6.
Apart from their EPA rating, we’ve also taken into account their practicality, safety, and features to come up with the best overall picks.
Toyota Prius is a five-passenger car known for its gas efficiency. While it’s not the most fuel-efficient hybrid on this list of best gas mileage cars, it does come with numerous safety features, as well as all-wheel drive on some trims. So if this is important to you, you may want to go for the more expensive version of the Prius.
You can select between five trim levels. The most popular one is LE FWD. Its price starts at around $27,000. It sports a Front Wheel Drive and a Hybrid l4 1.8 liters engine. EPA estimates Toyota Prius to average 54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on highways.
While the Toyota Prius is probably the most famous hybrid, its design is not everyone's cup of tea. However, if you do like the somewhat different design, you can benefit from its large cargo space. The inside is comfortable, albeit humble. Last but not least, the Toyota Prius gives a smooth ride for five passengers.
Toyota Avalon Hybrid
Toyota Avalon hybrid provides a perfect mix of passenger and cargo space. Not to mention reliability and safety. No wonder it was selected as the winner of 2021 Best Electric and Hybrid Cars for Families on cars.usnews.com.
Although not as large as other best gas mileage cars, the Toyota Avalon hybrid provides a luxurious feel and great gas mileage: 43 mpg in the city, and 44 mpg on open roads. This is quite lower than other similar hybrid cars.
The interior design is ergonomic. Meaning you’ll have lots of leg- and headroom for sitting comfortably in front or back. Moreover, it sports a big trunk space. When it comes to performance, this big sedan provides enough output to satisfy both business and personal needs.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
If you’re looking for a large car with good fuel economy, the Pacifica will probably check all the boxes for you. With three rows of seats that can accommodate up to seven passengers and a hybrid engine, this minivan is a top choice for anyone who needs that extra space in the cabin and cargo hold.
Although not exactly cheap, it does have all the right features and a superb fuel economy for its class. With a combined mpg of 30 when running on gas only and 82 on both gas and electricity, we doubt you could find an overall better option when it comes to minivans.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra has the same striking aesthetic as its gas-only counterpart. However, this car is the powertrain among hybrids. It has a staggering 139 horsepower output. This isn’t a radical change to other Elantras. However, what’s enormously better is the 56 mpg it has. Compare this to gas-only Elantras that have 43 mpg.
Although it costs around $24,000, the standard Elantra Blue Hybrid is nicely equipped:
- Blind-spot monitors
- Apple CarPlay
- Automatic Android connection
- Fronts seats you can heat up
Although it isn’t the most luxurious compact sedan on this list of best mpg cars, it’s difficult to ignore the value of the Hyundai Elantra.
In essence, the Honda Insight is a copy of the Honda Civic Hybrid. However, this isn’t a bad thing. Honda Insight is a compact sedan that provides a large interior and a balanced, comfortable ride. In fact, the 2022 Honda Insight provides as much output and verve as the famous Honda Civic.
Moreover, it has superb fuel economy. It can pack up to five passengers and has two trim versions. The more popular one being EX. It starts at $26,500 and sports a 1.5 liters I4 Hybrid engine. Front-Wheel Drive as well. EPA estimates it spends 55 mpg during city driving and 49 mpg on highways.
So, What Are the Best Gas Mileage Cars?
Answering this question depends on what you’re looking for. Finding the car with the highest estimated mpg would be an easy search. However, it all comes down to what you expect from the vehicle, as we’ve explained throughout this article.
Keep in mind you shouldn’t blindly trust commercials. Check the cars’ EPA Rating, what fuel it runs on, and how much that fuel costs. Further, consider where you’ll be driving the car most of the time, as well how you intend to use it, and try to find the perfect balance between economy and performance. Research different cars, prioritize the features you need, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the best gas mileage cars for you or your business.