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Best Fuel-Efficient Cars by Each Automaker, Now and Later

Check out each major automaker’s top fuel-efficient cars, including their current cars with the best gas mileage and green car technology as well as their best fuel-efficient cars to come. You can see the cars of the future in the photos next to each automaker’s listing. 


By Todd Kaho 

Today’s choices for best fuel-efficient cars are greater and more diverse than those of just a few years ago. The options in 2012 have expanded: Gasoline-electric hybrids, flex-fuel vehicles, clean diesel cars and trucks, alternative fuels such as natural gas, and pure battery electric vehicles are all now available in the green fleet. All the major automakers have added their own look and feel to produce cars with the best gas mileage, and all car companies have promised improvements and even more options are on the way. Because many car shoppers feel a sense of brand loyalty, we’ve organized each automaker’s top fuel-efficient cars — along with the cars of the future that we’re most excited about — for you to easily search your options.

You can see the future . . . in these photos at least. Each photo shows the “Best Coming” model listed for each automaker.

Audi E Tron 




Best Now: A3 TDI — clean diesel; mpg: 30 city, 42 highway (hwy); four-door hatchback; loads of fun to drive

Best Coming: e-tron — Audi’s electric technology has been used in two concept cars so far: a low-slung sedan and a roadster sports car; small-scale production to begin in 2012

Photo by Audi 




BMW i3 



Best Now: 335d — clean diesel; mpg: 23 city, 36 hwy; great-handling and power in this German sedan

Best Coming: i3 — Megacity design concept; compact electric car; expected 93-mile range; lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum construction; expected release in 2013

Photo by BMW 





Buick Encore 




Best Now: LaCrosse — uses mild-hybrid technology; mpg: 25 city, 36 hwy; comfortable luxury sedan

Best Coming: Encore — small luxury crossover; expected 35 to 40 combined mpg; turbocharged 1.4-liter, Ecotec 4-cylinder engine; public release expected in 2013

Photo by Buick 




Chevrolet Cruze Diesel 



Best Now: Volt — landmark extended range electric car; estimated total range of 407 miles; pure electric range of 36 miles

Best Coming: Cruze Diesel — clean diesel technology; great torque and fuel economy; rumored to reach the 50-mpg mark; promised for 2013

Photo by Chevrolet 




Dodge Ram PHEV 




Best Now: Fiat 500 — retro-styling in a fun and efficient package; mpg: 30 city, 38 hwy; great urban maneuverability

Best Coming: Ram PHEV — plug-in hybrid; 25 percent mpg improvement; currently in fleet testing with a potential release in 2015

Photo by Ram 




Ford Focus Electric 




Best Now: Fusion Hybrid — five-passenger sedan; mpg: 41 city, 36 hwy; restyled 2013 model will reach up to 47 mpg

Best Coming: Focus Electric — 100 mpg equivalent; quick home charging station from Best Buy; sporty handling; expected spring 2012 in limited markets

Photo by Ford 




Honda Fit EV 




Best Now: Civic — redesigned for 2012; mpg: 28 city, 39 hwy; Civic HF, Civic Hybrid and Civic Natural Gas all have good mpg and excellent green cred

Best Coming: Fit EV — all-electric version of the Fit; estimated electric range: 123 city, 95 hwy; limited release in 2012

Photo by Honda 




Hyundai Blue Will 




Best Now: Sonata Hybrid — award-winning design; mpg: 35 city, 40 hwy; roomy and comfortable with impressive performance

Best Coming: Blue-Will — plug-in hybrid; 40-mile all-electric range; striking Hyundai styling; expected release in late 2012

Image by Hyundai 




Kia Ray EV 




Best Now: Optima Hybrid — five-passenger sedan; mpg: 35 city, 40 hwy; electric drive at speeds up to 62 mph

Best Coming: Ray EV — electric city car; 86-mile range; six-hour charge from 220-volt charger; could be adapted for North American sale in 2012

Photo by Kia-World 




Lexus LF LC 




Best Now: CT 200h — luxury four-door hatchback; mpg: 43 city, 40 hwy; distinctive styling; driving modes: EV, Eco, Normal and Sport

Best Coming: LF-LC 2+2 — sport coupe; sleek car concept said to have the next generation of Lexus hybrid technology; should see production in 2013 or 2014

Photo by Lexus 



Mazda Skyactiv D 




Best Now: Mazda3 SKYACTIV — five-door hatchback; mpg: 28 city, 39 hwy; 155 horsepower; sporty handling

Best Coming: Mazda SKYACTIV-D — 2.2-liter clean diesel; expected 40-plus combined mpg; likely debut in the CX-5 crossover in early 2013

Photo by Mazda 




Mercedes Benz F Cell 




Best Now: E350 BlueTEC — advanced-technology clean diesel; mpg: 21 city, 32 hwy; large luxury sedan

Best Coming: F-CELL — hydrogen-electric vehicle; up to 240-mile range; scheduled to go into production in 2015

Photo by Daimler AG 





Mitsubishi PX MiEV II 




Best Now: i-MiEV — most affordable electric car; 112 mpg equivalent; 8-year, 100,000 mile battery warranty

Best Coming: PX-MiEV II — plug-in hybrid; based on Outlander SUV; 31-mile electric range; possible 2013 model

Photo by Mitsubishi 





Nissan e NV200 




Best Now: Leaf — game-changing electric car; 100-mile range; 107 horsepower; 207 lb-ft of torque

Best Coming: e-NV200 — small electric van with zero tailpipe emissions; Nissan says “near-future” for North American production

Photo by Nissan 




Scion iQ EV 




Best Now: iQ — diminutive, thrifty city car; mpg: 36 city, 37 hwy; easy to park and turns heads

Best Coming: iQ EV — all-electric version of the iQ; micro car for city driving; projected to be available sometime in 2012 as a 2013 model

Photo by Scion 




Tesla Model S 




Best Now: Roadster — high-performance, electric two-seater; 245-mile range; pricey but exhilarating to drive

Best Coming: Model S — electric sedan; base model has expected 160-mile range; three battery sizes offered for increased range up to 300 miles; on sale in 2012

Photo by Tesla 




Toyota RAV4 EV 




Best Now: Prius — still the king of green cars; mpg: 51 city, 48 hwy; now offered in four variations: regular, C, V and Plug-In models

Best Coming: RAV4 EV — all-electric, small SUV; 100-mile range; room for five passengers; limited availability in 2012

Photo by Toyota 




Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 




Best Now: Passat TDI — clean diesel; mpg: 30 city, 40 hwy; roomy, five-passenger sedan; excellent handling

Best Coming: Jetta Hybrid — 20 percent more fuel-efficient; expected 45 combined mpg; innovative coast mode; coming in late 2012 as 2013 model

Photo by Volkswagen 



Post a comment below.


2/7/2013 4:24:22 AM
I drive a Land Rover getting around 15 mpg. I am a perfectly happy individual.

2/7/2013 4:15:41 AM
I am not quite sure where you read this fantasy but I am going to take a stab in the dark and say 'Popular Mechanics,' as they are shill for oil companies and have been for over six decades. I spent 47 years working for two separate car companies with 31 of those as an executive. I rarely stick my thumb out to be picked up but I cannot ignore when someone is being as uninformative as you. Exactly what you wrote is practically verbatim from a memo I read in 1971 about what we wanted the American public to believe. And, obviously, it has worked. Believe it or not there are anti gravity vehicles for public use being kept under wraps and have been for 20 years! I do not fear retribution from my previous company because no one is going to care what an old guy says while typing at his desk. Besides, I am not using data, which is most important in disclosure. I am simply telling the truth about generalities. The company I previously worked for had the capability to engineer and mass produce vehicles weighing less than 800 lbs and get 1200 miles to the gallon....of water. Yes, you read that correctly, water. People for so long have been using dead plant and animal matter as their way to matriculate down the road that they are blinded by the real. And that 'real' is money grubbing businessmen who do not care if the average person lives or dies while standing in their way of profit. Their livelihood is based upon the man of the house believing exactly what you just wrote. That way everything feels pretty and there is an explanation for everything. Even wars for oil. How that is explained away is by creating prescription addicted zombies here at home reading about violence every day and then watching in their programming every night. When you pay attention to history you will find that practically every conspiracy believed by a large audience has proven to be true. Because some of us do not eat what they are feeding us thus we are not blind.

2/7/2013 2:58:26 AM
power in is always more then power out... there is no free lunch or energy... the problem with hydrogen being used commonly is the same as the problem with switching to the metric system in the U.S. it simple costs a lot to do the switch over and American's don't truly want to pay for it.. they just want to talk about it....

Evan Maughan
2/5/2013 2:22:08 AM
My first car was a '73 Saab Sonnet. Loved that car, get above 40 mpg even around town, and was light enough that my high school friends could pick it up and move it to another parking stall, just to play mind games with me.

Evan Maughan
2/5/2013 2:17:17 AM
Conspiracy theories about auto makers wanting to keep the oil companies fat with profit are bunk. Here is the real - Machiavellian - reason we do not see super duper mpg coming from automakers, cost, market demand and regulations. 1st Cost - it is cheaper to build a less fuel efficient car than highly efficient car in the same classification. 2nd Demand - Americans for a long time have wanted power and interior space over fuel efficiency. Not all Americans, but a good chunk of the market. 3rd Regulations - Why not have 200 MPG car running on bike tires? There are too many regs preventing something like that on the road. Vehicles have to met multiple road safety requirements before they will be allowed as "cars" on the highways in the U.S. No need for big conspiracies about big auto and oil, just economics plain and simple. As gas prices rise, we will see a big shift in #2 (market demand) for more efficient vehicles.

t brandt
2/4/2013 12:15:07 PM
There can be no Perpetual Motion Machines: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics so you can't really make your H2 as you go.....H2 + O H2O + E is exothermic in the one direction and endothermic in the other, ie- you get less energy out of burning the H2 than it took to produce it....PV & wind energy isn't "free." Given their inefficiencies, it doesn't make sense in the long run....There a re plenty of economically viable alternatives like wood gas or methane from manure. There's enough very cheap NG now coming available to last for centuries....The whole "need" for green energy is based on the false premise that GHGs are causing GW. It simply isn't true.

2/3/2013 10:17:03 PM
Perhaps I gave you the wrong impression. Their car actually runs on hydrogen produced in situ, using a heavy-duty battery system kept recharged by the alternator. I've a long history of innovation but don't begin to understand the hi-tech info. they provided, which involves a series of 'black boxes' and tubing. Apparently the system is easier/cheaper to fit with older engines which aren't computer-managed or exhaust-emission controlled......A fortnight ago they bought an old truck, fitted the system on-site and drove it 350km home on water.....Obviously distilled water is preferred, but they reckon the only real no-no is water with added chemicals like fluoride.

Sandra Labrecque
2/3/2013 4:02:17 PM
I'd be interested to see a comparison done between gasoline & hydrogen for energy in-to-energy out. For gasoline, there's the energy to find it, to drill the well, pump it out, transport to refinery, refine it, transport to gas station, pump it into car (not to mention all the emissions from all those steps). Hydrogen conversion can be done locally, and could use solar or wind to power, so low emissions. I'd be willing to bet hydrogen would easily win in an overall comparison.

t brandt
2/2/2013 12:09:36 PM
It's true that a water spray carburator has been around for 70 yrs that greatly improves gas mileage: but the water fouls the oil & quickly destroys the engine. Back to the drawing boards...The problem with H power is that it takes more energy to produce the H than you get back when it's burned. Simple chemistry....Natural gas will cheaply replace gasoline/deisel when that supply is depleted. It makes no economic sense to make the switch now....Improvements in gas mileage over the past few decades are attributable not so much to improved engine technology, but to simply building smaller, lighter more aerodynamic cars.

Daniel Chase
2/1/2013 9:53:39 PM
Consider an electric bike for short trips and errands. Use one of these in bad weather or when two or more people are riding. Check out Prodeco ebikes at

Json Wreight
2/1/2013 8:37:25 PM
I agree with Lee Cote. ....A coup;e of blokes down the street from here have driven an old Ford 1,500,000 (correct: MILLION) kilometres ~ or nearly a million miles ~ on hydrogen, and can install the (fairly simple) system into most vehicles for about $4000......They have been trying for years to get financing to go into production , from government, private sources, etc. and can't get a penny. And as I understand it government has actually threatened legislation to make such vehicles illegal for use on the road. Wonder why???

Lee Cote
2/1/2013 8:22:40 PM
If u think these are great on gas mileage then u are sick. The car makers know how to build a car ore any truck with a very minimum of 50 mpg city. Actually they know how to get 100 mpg average. They just want that money the gas companies gives them to keep mpg down. Way back in the 1950's a carburetor was invented to give a minimum of 100 mpg average So stop PANDERING the auto industry..

2/1/2013 6:11:55 PM
I think I need to hang on to my 2002 VW Golf TDI - 50 mpg/highway.

Dan Shannon
8/4/2012 4:47:46 AM
I don't understand why you listed the Honda Civic at 28 city and 39 hwy as their best in 2012. It is a great car but as far as gas mileage the Honda Insight is listed at something like 42 city and 44 hwy. After 8,000 miles my average is 55.2 mpg. I think the Toyota Prius can do better. I don't know about other brands but I'd like to be able to trust Mother. Could you check your figures and make any corrections necessary? Thanks

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