Here Are the 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars

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  • Cars have become more fuel efficient since 1975, with the average car now getting 25.4 miles per gallon (MPG), hitting a record high.
  • Since 2000, hybrid and electric vehicles offer the most fuel efficiency.
  • The Lucid Air has dethroned the Tesla Model 3 as the most fuel efficient vehicle, at 140 MPG.

These cars can save you thousands at the pump!

Fuel efficiency is becoming increasingly important as gas prices hit all-time highs -- they reached over $5 a gallon last summer. In fact recent surveys show that fuel efficiency is the most important factor when purchasing a car. While fuel prices have tapered off since then, prices are still hovering near its highs, hitting Americans' budgets hard. As a result, many car buyers are looking to buy a car that won't break their budget.

Fuel efficiency has improved since 1975

Since 1975, the average CO2 emission for new cars has dropped from close to 700 CO2 grams/mile (g/mi) to 347 g/mil, the lowest on record. Fuel economy has also hit record numbers, in a good way. In 1975, the average car got 13 miles per gallon (MPG). We have come a long way since then, with the average car in model year 2021 hitting a record high of 25.4 MPG.

Since 1975, here are the cars with the best fuel efficiency, including hybrid and electric vehicles:

Year Make & Model Real World Fuel Economy (mpg) Engine Type
1975 Honda Civic 28.3 Gas
1980 VW Rabbit 40.3 Diesel
1985 GM Sprint 49.6 Gas
1990 GM Metro 53.4 Gas
1995 Honda Civic 47.3 Gas
2000 Honda Insight 57.4 Hybrid
2005 Honda Insight 53.3 Hybrid
2006 Honda Insight 53.0 Hybrid
2007 Toyota Prius 46.2 Hybrid
2008 Toyota Prius 46.2 Hybrid
2009 Toyota Prius 46.2 Hybrid
2010 Honda FCX 60.2 FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle)
2011 BMW Active E 100.6 EV
2012 Nissan-i-MiEV 109.0 EV
2013 Toyota IQ 117.0 EV
2014 BMW i3 121.3 EV
2015 BMW i3 121.3 EV
2016 BMW i3 121.3 EV
2017 Hyundai Ioniq 132.6 EV
2018 Hyundai Ioniq 132.6 EV
2019 Hyundai Ioniq 132.6 EV
2020 Tesla Model 3 138.6 EV
2021 Tesla Model 3 139.1 EV

Since 2000, the most fuel-efficient cars have been hybrids, fuel cell vehicles, or electric vehicles. Before then, car manufacturers were able to increase fuel efficiency by making the cars smaller and lighter. However, this also impacted the car's horsepower. With the introduction of hybrids and electric cars, manufacturers have been able to increase fuel efficiency without sacrificing power.

Since 2004, advancements in technology have helped car manufacturers increase fuel economy by 32% and horsepower by 20%. More companies are switching to producing EVs, with some pledging to go all-electric in the next 10 to 20 years. This will help drive down the cost of batteries, improve the technology, and help the environment.

5 most fuel-efficient cars (including EVs)

In recent years, Tesla's Model 3 has been crowned the most fuel-efficient vehicle. But in 2022 Lucid's Air Pure edged Tesla out with an equivalent combined MPG of 140. Here are the more fuel-efficient cars overall:

  1. 2023 Lucid Air Pure: 140 MPG; MSRP from $87,400
  2. 2023 Tesla Model 3: 132 MPG; MSRP from $43,490
  3. 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV: 120 MPG; MSRP $25,600 to $28,800
  4. 2023 MINI Cooper SE Hardtop: 110 MPG; MSRP $29,900 to $33,900
  5. 2023 Porsche Taycan GTS: 82 MPG; MSRP $134,100

5 most fuel-efficient cars (excluding EVs/hybrids)

The price of EV cars have gone down significantly since first being introduced, but according to KBB, the average EV still costs $16,000 more than a gas-powered vehicle. Even with electric vehicle tax breaks, EVs are considerably more expensive than gas-powered cars. Here are the most fuel-efficient gas-powered cars:

  1. 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage: 39 MPG; MSRP from $16,245
  2. 2023 Hyundai Elantra: 37 MPG; MSRP $20,500 to $26,350
  3. 2023 Honda Civic: 36 MPG; MSRP $24,650 to $29,650
  4. 2023 Kia Rio: 36 MPG; MSRP $16,550 to $17,490
  5. 2023 Toyota Corolla: 35 MPG; MSRP From $21,550

If you're in the market for a new car, there are many options with great fuel efficiency available, ranging from traditional gas-powered vehicles to fully electric models that offer great mileage. EVs like Tesla and Lucid Air Pure and gas-powered vehicles like Toyota and Hyundai are all great options for those looking for maximum efficiency at a reasonable price point.

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