Best Non Hybrid Mpg Cars – The most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car you can buy today
Whether you’re concerned about a car’s impact on your wallet or the environment (or both!), fuel efficiency and emissions are important factors when buying a new vehicle. But while MPG is a relatively simple concept to understand — especially when gasoline prices begin their annual summer hike — emissions can seem a bit abstract. After all, you’re not paying per gram of carbon dioxide (CO
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) is given as you do for each gallon of gasoline used. It is more difficult to fully account for the total emissions of a vehicle such as an electric vehicle that produces no exhaust while driving.
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To help make it all a little easier, we’ve developed an Eco-Efficiency Score that combines government data on energy efficiency and emissions. See a more in-depth discussion at
We crunched the numbers for every 2018 vehicle with an MSRP under $40,000. Here are the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid vehicles you can buy today.
Being green is more than using less fuel, just as the value of a car is more important than the purchase price. If your main concern is ecology rather than economics, you are probably already familiar with CO
Tailpipe emissions are at the center of many environmental debates. It is in this spirit that we have created the Eco-Efficiency Score. Basically, it combines grams of CO
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Each vehicle’s MPG rating takes into account the emissions created by the fuel production process (drilling, refining, transportation, etc.) in metric miles per mile. The result is a car that’s more efficient for your wallet and the air.
There’s a simple reason why the Mitsubishi Mirage is so effective: it’s a very simple car. It’s not loaded with hundreds of pounds of luxury gear (total weight is 2,100 pounds), and it’s powered by a 1.2L engine with just three cylinders. It may not have a lot of power (78 hp, 74 lb-ft of torque), but it won’t take much of a toll on your wallet or the environment.
Honda’s Fit, with its conventional 1.5L four-cylinder engine, actually beats many hybrid crossovers in a direct eco-efficiency comparison. Its above-average fuel economy and below-average emissions (in a good way) are enough to put it second among all non-hybrids, and it’s available with several advanced safety technologies if desired.
It’s no surprise that the Civic finished in the top-three here. When it debuted in 1972, the first Civic followed in the footsteps of the VW Beetle and MINI Cooper and offered a minimal feel as a so-called “one-calorie car”, especially at the pump. Flash forward to 2018, and 10
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This generation of Civic still exemplifies frugality, but also offers the optional Honda Sensing suite of basic comfort and safety features.
Toyota’s Yaris iA actually has more in common with the Mazda2 than the Yaris hatchback, which is 10 places lower. Like many other cars on this list, the Yaris iA derives its effectiveness from its simplicity and compact nature. On the road, its impressive handling makes up for any lack of efficiency.
Hyundai’s main rival for the Civic gets just one mile per gallon, and as trim levels rise, it closely matches the Honda in features and price — with a starting MSRP ($16,950 for the 2.0 M/T version) that’s nearly $2,000 lower. However. The top-of-the-line Elantra is the mid-level 1.4 Eco version, which adds more than $3,500 to the price but comes with a more efficient engine and transmission.
According to GM sales data, the Cruze is Chevy’s best-selling car (and the third best-selling car behind the Equinox and Silverado). It’s a bit off on this list for two reasons: 1) it’s the only diesel-powered car in the top 10, and 2) it’s one of only two for which the manual transmission variant is more efficient than the automatic (though not by much. ).
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Nissan’s Versa is the least expensive car on this list, with an MSRP starting at just $12,310 if purchased with a manual transmission. Opt for the Versa’s continuously variable transmission (CVT), and MPG improves by four, while CO
Like its great rival, the Honda Civic above, the Corolla has been a leader in fuel efficiency for generations and has been on sale in the United States for more than 50 years. Today it comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of safety technologies, but that’s why it’s not on this list. The LE Eco trim helps increase fuel economy (34 mpg combined, 30 mpg) while reducing carbon emissions, which is why it ranks in the top 10.
Ford’s Focus offers a wider trim range than any other vehicle on this list. Performance machines like the Focus RS and ST (pictured) steal most of the show, while entry-level models offer more in terms of economy. Although Ford’s 1.0L turbocharged three-cylinder engine is an additional cost option, it results in dramatic reductions in fuel consumption (around 20%) and emissions.
Toyota’s best-selling sedan ranks 10th for its entry-level L trim, though any trim level with the 2.5L four-cylinder engine ranks in the top 15. The Camry received a major redesign ahead of the 2018 model year, and now includes many safety and convenience features as standard that other cars on this list may or may not offer at extra cost.
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For those who want to see greener cars on the road, we’ll soon announce numbers for hybrid and electric cars (and a few other major categories). However, we exclude them here for practical reasons.
Hybrids are good for many, but not for everyone. By adding both a large battery to store power and a motor to assist the gasoline engine, hybrids add significant weight and complexity to the vehicle. Additionally, due to the need to accommodate that large battery, most hybrids have significantly less charging capacity than their non-hybrid counterparts. For example, the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid sacrifices four cubic feet of trunk space, while the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid loses three cubic feet. To place the battery.
When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), the number of EVs in the market is still very small compared to the overall volume of vehicles. Add in the fact that two-thirds of EVs under $40,000 offer more than 100 miles of range, and it’s clear that EVs still have a ways to go to appeal to the mass market.
One of the most important factors in determining a vehicle’s environmental impact per kilometer is the so-called “well pumped” emissions. Contains well-to-pump CO
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Emissions occur during the production and transportation of the fuel you buy at the gas station. For cars and trucks that don’t use power from the electric grid — that is, regular cars and basic hybrids as opposed to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) — it’s much easier. According to EPA guidelines for accounting for gasoline from the well to the pump
, which represents the national average. In the case of the Mitsubishi Mirage, for example, the combined city and highway CO
225 grams per mile, which equates to 281.25 grams after accounting for the gasoline manufacturing process.
Dividing the total grams per mile by miles per gallon (or multiplying by gallons per mile) gives a combined, raw score of 39 mpg in this case.
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From there, it’s a matter of comparing each vehicle’s raw score to the leader in a given group. That’s why the Mirage gets a 100 and the Camry (9.71) a 74 with a raw rating of 7.21.
As transmission evolves into battery power that requires charging, the formula is changing dramatically, and we’ll get to those changes shortly when we discuss electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
* The EPA does not provide the same guidelines for diesel, so we put the same factor for both. The difference in emissions is only at one stage of the well-pump process and is very small compared to emissions from drilling and transportation (not to mention driving your own vehicle). According to information provided by Argonne National Laboratory, the effect is less than half a percent.
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