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 



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