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10 Cars That Get at Least 40 MPG

March 8th, 2011

With fuel prices on the rise again, fuel economy is on almost everybody’s mind. Luckily, there’s an assortment of cars to choose from that get 40 mpg or better—a number that was unheard of just a few years ago.

Of course there are the old standbys, the hybrids, that can achieve that magical 40 mpg, but you may be surprised by some of the other cars on this list—a few of which cost less than $20K.

2011 Hyundai Elantra

MSRP: $14,830
Invoice Pricing: N/A
Fuel Economy City/Hwy: 29/40 mpg
Cost to Fill Tank (@ $4/gallon): $51.20
Miles per tank (@ combined MPG): 538 miles

In a surprising move by Hyundai, the Korean automaker now has one of the most efficient non-hybrids on the market. With good looks, great standard features and, of course, excellent fuel economy, the 2011 Elantra is quickly rising to the top of the compact car hierarchy. Rated at 29 City/40 Hwy mpg, the Elantra even puts a few hybrids to shame. And with a respectable 140 horsepower on tap, you won’t be left in the slow lane. But the best part has to be its price. The 2011 Hyundai Elantra starts at just $14,830. Right now, we can’t think of a better way to spend $15K.


2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI and 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

MSRP: $23,765
Invoice Pricing: N/A
Fuel Economy City/Hwy: 30/42 mpg
Cost to Fill Tank (@ $4/gallon): $58.00
Miles per tank (@ combined MPG): 522 miles

Diesel-powered cars are a great alternative to hybrids. With far less technical complexity than your average hybrid, clean diesel cars like the Jetta TDI and Golf TDI are becoming more and more attractive to the fuel-conscious do-it-yourselfers out there. Rated at 30 City/42 Hwy mpg for the Jetta and 30 City/41 Hwy mpg for the Golf, these two diesels will certainly get the job done. And because they are diesels, you might have more fun doing it too. The TDI 2.0-liter turbo diesel 4-cylinder puts out 140 horsepower and a whopping 236 lb-ft. of torque. Maybe not sports car territory, but definitely enough to keep you entertained on your way to work.


2011 Chevrolet Cruze ECO

MSRP: $16,275
Invoice Pricing: $15,624
Fuel Economy City/Hwy: 28/42 mpg
Cost to Fill Tank (@ $4/gallon): $62.40
Miles per tank (@ combined MPG): 546 miles

The Chevy Cruze won over many ex-Toyota and Honda faithful when it arrived on the scene last year. But efficiency is the name of the game nowadays—a game Chevy wants to win badly. That’s where the 2011 Cruze ECO comes in. By taking a standard Cruze and removing excess weight and including a lighter 6-speed manual transmission and more efficient turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec engine, Chevy’s engineers have delivered 28 City/42 Hwy mpg in the form of the Cruze ECO. Quite an accomplishment if you ask us. But what does efficiency like that cost? The 2011 Chevy Cruze ECO starts at just $18,175.


2011 Toyota Prius

MSRP: $23,050
Invoice Pricing: $21,667
Fuel Economy City/Hwy: 51/48 mpg
Cost to Fill Tank (@ $4/gallon): $47.60
Miles per tank (@ combined MPG): 595 miles

This one should come as a shock to just about no one, as the Toyota Prius is the quintessential hybrid vehicle. Achieving 51 City/48 Hwy mpg, the Prius is the car to beat in the hybrid category. With a design philosophy that revolves around efficiency, the Prius should be at the top of your list if fuel economy is your primary concern.


2011 Honda Insight

MSRP: $18,200
Invoice Pricing: $17,183
Fuel Economy City/Hwy: 43/40 mpg
Cost to Fill Tank (@ $4/gallon): $42.40
Miles per tank (@ combined MPG): 439 miles

Continuing its tradition of building fuel-efficient vehicles, the 2011 Honda Insight is a worthy successor to its namesake—the car that brought hybrid technology to the general public more than 10 years ago. With an EPA estimated 40 City/43 Hwy mpg, the Insight is just as suited for commuting as it is for long distance trips. And with a starting price of $18,200, fuel won’t be the only thing you’ll save on.


2011 Honda Civic Hybrid

MSRP: $23,950
Invoice Pricing: $22,041
Fuel Economy City/Hwy: 43/40 mpg
Cost to Fill Tank (@ $4/gallon): $49.20
Miles per tank (@ combined MPG): 510 miles

Like its dedicated hybrid cousin, the Insight, the Honda Civic Hybrid offers excellent fuel economy but in a more familiar (and possibly better looking) package. Since both the Insight and the Civic Hybrid share the same drivetrain, the Civic is also rated at 40 City/43 Hwy mpg, but you get a more conventional-looking car with a few bells and whistles not available on the base Insight. The Civic Hybrid gives drivers the entire hybrid experience while making minimal sacrifices.


2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid and 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

MSRP: $28,340
Invoice Pricing: $26,036
Fuel Economy City/Hwy: 41/36 mpg
Cost to Fill Tank (@ $4/gallon): $70.00
Miles per tank (@ combined MPG): 674 miles

Ford has really stepped up its game. The 2011 Fusion Hybrid along with its upscale stablemate, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, is a car few might expect to achieve over 40 mpg. Still, it does it with relative ease. Since it’s a heavier midsize sedan, the Fusion Hybrid does most of its fuel-saving in the city with its regenerative braking. Rated at 41 City/36 Hwy mpg, the Fusion Hybrid makes short work of long, congested commutes. And if you choose the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, you get the same great fuel economy with a touch more luxury and refinement.


2011 Nissan LEAF

Invoice Pricing:
Fuel Economy City/Hwy: comparable to 106/92  mpg
Cost to Fill Tank (@ $4/gallon): $2.75 @ $0.11/kWh to recharge from empty to full
Miles per tank (@ combined MPG): 100 miles per charge

Okay, so this one technically shouldn’t count, but it’s such a marvel of efficiency that we can’t help but mention it. We’re speaking of course about the all-electric 2011 Nissan LEAF. With a 100-mile range between charges, the LEAF is perfect for the average commuter. And if you do the math, converting amp-hours to mpg, you end up with an astonishing figure of 367 mpg! While you won’t hear those numbers repeated by Nissan’s PR machine, any man or woman of science can tell you about the incredible efficiency inherent in EVs. If high fuel costs truly are your main concern, consider this: you won’t ever buy gas again with the Nissan LEAF.

  1. March 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm, Marilyn Nyborg said:

    SO where the MPG AWD????? Anything decent YET?

  2. November 05, 2012 at 4:45 pm, George said:

    So why they all got to look so ugly?

  3. November 09, 2012 at 1:51 pm, Armaan Almeida said:

    Aerodynamics. Cars that get good MPG have aesthetics at the bottom of their requirements.

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