29 best and most fuel-efficient cars to combat rising gas prices

(iSeeCars) – Gas prices have reached a six-year high, and drivers are back on the roads after a year of pandemic-related closures. Whether it’s the return to a daily commute or the anticipation of a summer road trip, the combination of increased driving and higher gas prices may encourage drivers to forego their gas-guzzlers for something more fuel-efficient.

Whether you want a hybrid or electric car, or if you want a conventional internal combustion engine with better gas mileage, we put together a list of the best options for fuel-efficient vehicles. To determine the best and most fuel-efficient cars, iSeeCars analyzed over 20 million cars to calculate a Quality Score (from 1-10) for each car and determine which ones are the best based on long-term reliability, value retention, and safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We then determined which of these vehicles had the highest fuel economy using a threshold of 30 combined MPG for traditional cars and 40 MPG (or MPGe) for hybrids and electrics. 

We divided the results into two categories: traditional gasoline cars and hybrid/electric vehicles. 

The Best Fuel-Efficient Cars: Gasoline-Powered

To determine the highest quality cars with the best fuel economy, iSeeCars looked at vehicles with a Quality Score of at least 7.0 and an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of at least 30 mpg. The results are divided among small cars, midsize cars, and hatchbacks. 

The Best Fuel-Efficient Small Cars:

Here are the best and most fuel-efficient compact and subcompact cars. These cars deliver excellent fuel economy and are easy to maneuver due to their small size, making them an ideal choice for city dwellers.

Best Gas Mileage Cars: Small Cars
Rank Vehicle iSeeCars Quality Score Combined MPG
1 Honda Civic (Coupe) 9.0 35
2 Honda Civic (Sedan) 8.9 36
3 Toyota Corolla 8.9 34
4 Mazda MAZDA3 8.9 31
5 Subaru Impreza 8.9 32
6 Volkswagen Jetta 8.4 34
7 Hyundai Elantra 8.0 37
8 Hyundai Accent 7.8 36
9 Kia Rio 7.8 36

1-2. Honda Civic (Coupe/Sedan)

iSeeCars Quality Score (Coupe): 9.0 (Reliability: 8.7, Value Retention: 8.6, Safety: 9.5)

iSeeCars Quality Score (Sedan): 9.9 (Reliability: 8.1, Value Retention: 8.5, Safety: 10)

Combined MPG: 35 (Coupe)/36 (Sedan)

Earning the top two spots is the Honda Civic coupe and sedan respectively. The coupe has a slightly higher quality score thanks to its slight edge for value retention, but the sedan is slightly more fuel efficient. However, the coupe bodystyle was dropped for the 2021 model year, making the bodystyle only available in the used car marketplace. The Civic has enjoyed many decades as one of the most popular vehicles on the road thanks to its agile handling and its range of engine options. It’s also praised for its practicality due to its affordability and fuel efficiency, earning a combined 35 mpg for the coupe and 36 mpg for the sedan when equipped with its 1.5-liter engine.

A new Honda Civic sedan costs between $20,337-$26,101, and a three-year-old used Honda Civic sedan costs an average of $18,563.  A three-year-old used Honda Civic Coupe costs an average of $20,085.

3. Toyota Corolla

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.9 (Reliability: 8.0, Value Retention: 8.6, Safety: 10)

Combined MPG: 34

Ranked third is another popular compact sedan, the Toyota Corolla. It’s among the most affordable cars in the compact category, thanks to its below $20,000 average new car price, lower-than-average maintenance costs, and excellent fuel economy of 34 mpg when equipped with its 2.0 liter engine. It also comes with an intuitive touchscreen infotainment system and a suite of driver assistance aids such as lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, and forward collision warning. 

A new Toyota Corolla costs between $18,895 and $25,221 and a three-year-old used Toyota Corolla costs $16,667.

4. Mazda MAZDA3

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.9 (Reliability: 8.0, Value Retention: 8.6, Safety: 10)

Combined MPG: 31

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Ranked fourth is the Mazda MAZDA3, which boasts impressive driving dynamics and powerful engine options making it one of the best compact cars available. It comes standard with a full suite of active safety features like driver attention warning, automatic high-beam headlights, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and forward-collision warning. It has above-average fuel economy for the compact car class at 31 combined mpg.  [/caption]

A new Mazda MAZDA3 costs between $20,541 and $31,232, while a three-year-old used Mazda MAZDA3 costs an average of $17,168.

5. Subaru Impreza

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.7 (Reliability: 7.9, Value Retention: 8.7, Safety: 10)

Combined MPG: 32

Ranked fifth is the Subaru Impreza. The compact Impreza isn’t just one of the only small cars to offer all-wheel drive, but it also comes standard. What’s more is that it’s the most affordable AWD vehicle available and is considered among the best AWD cars on the market because of its quality and value. It’s also efficient with a combined mpg of 31 with its CVT transmission. A five-speed manual transmission is also available, which earns a less-efficient 26 combined mpg. The reliable and safe Impreza comes with standard driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.  

A new Subaru Impreza costs an average of $20,156 to $27,995 and a three-year-old used Subaru Impreza costs between $18,435.

6. Volkswagen Jetta

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.4 (Reliability: 7.9, Value Retention: 7.4, Safety: 10)

Combined MPG: 34

The Volkswagen Jetta ranks sixth. The Jetta has above-average passenger and cargo space for its vehicle class, while offering tremendous value with an average new car price well below $20,000. The Volkswagen Jetta comes standard with a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system, but lacks standard driver assistance features beyond a rearview camera. The Volkswagen Jetta’s base four-cylinder engine gets a combined mpg of 34, which is excellent for the class.

The Volkswagen Jetta has an average new car price between $17,459 and $27,479, while a three-year-old used Volkswagen Jetta costs an average of $15,639.

7. Hyundai Elantra

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.0 (Reliability: 7.6, Value Retention: 7.9, Safety: 8.5)

Combined MPG: 37

The Hyundai Elantra compact sedan, which was named as the 2021 North American Car of the Year, ranks seventh. It offers ample passenger space and a suite of standard safety features, including an 8-inch touch screen infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also has a list of standard advanced safety features including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring. The fully redesigned for 2021 Hyundai Elantra has an impressive fuel economy rating of a combined 37 mpg with its base engine, which makes it the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the list.

A new Hyundai Elantra costs between $16,704 and $25,673, and a three-year-old used  Hyundai Elantra costs an average of $15,411

8. Hyundai Accent

iSeeCars Quality Score: 7.8 (Reliability: 7.6, Value Retention: 7.9, Safety: 8.0)

Combined MPG: 36

The subcompact Hyundai Accent ranks eighth. It features a comfortable and attractive cabin and has a host of standard tech features including a five-inch touchscreen, Siri Eyes Free, and Bluetooth connectivity. A new Hyundai Accent costs between $19,650 and $25,450, and a three-year-old used Hyundai Accent costs an average of $15,411.

9. Kia Rio

iSeeCars Quality Score: 7.8 (Reliability: 7.7, Value Retention: 7.7, Safety: 8.0)

Combined MPG: 36

The subcompact Kia Rio ranks ninth. Despite its subcompact car designation, it provides plenty of headroom and legroom and has a comfortable interior. It comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto. It is among the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the subcompact class, earning 36 combined MPG.

A new Kia Rio costs between $13,301 and $18,809, while a three-year-old used Kia Rio costs an average of $12,829.

The Best Fuel-Efficient Midsize Cars:

For drivers who want more passenger and cargo room, these are the best and most fuel-efficient midsize sedans.

Best Gas Mileage Cars: Midsize Cars
Rank Vehicle iSeeCars Quality Score Combined MPG
1 Honda Accord 9.0 33
2 Toyota Camry 9.0 32
3 Hyundai Sonata 8.7 31
4 Kia Optima 8.5 31
5 Chevrolet Malibu 8.3 32
6 Nissan Altima 8.3 32

1. Honda Accord

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.0 (Reliability: 8.5, Value Retention: 8.6, Safety: 10)

Combined MPG: 33

Earning top honors as the best of the fuel-efficient midsize sedans is the Honda Accord. The Accord is praised for its adept handling and provides more cargo and passenger room than most of its competitors. The Honda Accord offers standard infotainment features including an 8-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Accord also comes…

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