The Top 10 Highest MPG Cars On Sale Today

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If you're in the market for a new car and your top priority is fuel efficiency, what do you buy?

With so much to choose from now including gasoline, diesel, natural gas and electric cars on the market as well as a range-extended electric vehicle and hybrids galore, the options are bewildering.

If MPG is your ultimate priority, we've drawn up a list of the top ten cars on sale in the U.S. today, ranked by average MPG and MPG equivalent (MPGe).

2012 Mitsubishi i - 112 MPG

Top of the list is Mitsubishi's powered jellybean, the "i" electric car. The looks might not be to all tastes but with an average of 112 MPGe, it currently ranks top on the EPA's leaderboard of fuel efficiency.

2011 Nissan Leaf - 99 MPG

The Mitsubishi i might be at the top but for many drivers, the Leaf will make more sense. It's larger, more refined, better to drive and with an official range of 73 miles to the Mitsubishi's 62, more usable on a day-to-day basis.

2012 Chevrolet Volt - 94 / 37 MPG

The Volt gets two ratings because it effectively has two separate modes of running. EPA gives an all-electric range of 35 miles (GM claims between 40-50 miles) and 94 MPGe, but once the gasoline generator kicks in range extends to 344 miles and MPG decreases to 37.

2011 Smart Fortwo electric drive - 87 MPG

The Fortwo electric drive is in limbo at the moment as we wait for the 2012 model unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show, promising greater speed and greater range. The 2011 model has a range of 63 miles, and manages to drive better than the regular gasoline Smart.

2012 Toyota Prius - 50 MPG

A list of high-MPG vehicles wouldn't be complete without the Prius and at 50 MPG combined it's still one of the most efficient vehicles on the road. It's also good to drive, seats 5 people and Toyota has a proven track record in hybrid technology, meaning reassuring reliability.

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Comments (10)
  1. Always interesting when you mix ICE and hybrids in the same list.

    One more data point according to the EPA.
    Mitsubishi i $540/year fuel (@$0.12/KWH)
    Toyota Prius $1029/year fuel (@3.43/gallon).

    The Prius cost 2X to fuel compared to the "i". Of course, the Prius is larger, less expensive to buy (I think, depending on rebates), and has a much larger range. Hmmm but it might also be more polluting, noiser, and less fun to drive.

  2. MPGe was invented to compare energy consumption of vehicles with different energy sources but it seems like a rather pointless exercise. The Leaf may be more energy efficient than the Prius but it's not like the same amount of gasoline would get you more miles with a Leaf since obviously it can't run on gasoline. So what exactly is the point of translating a vehicle's energy consumption in a gasoline equivalent if that vehicle can't actually run on gasoline?

  3. I am with you on that one.

    Perhaps, for better or worst, people have become familiar with MPG and the EPA felt a desperate need to make MPGe.

    The Europeans went another direction, grams CO2/km. Of course that has its own problems because it is hard to know how much CO2 is produced from each KWH of electricity in a complex electricity grid.

  4. "Perhaps, for better or worst, people have become familiar with MPG and the EPA felt a desperate need to make MPGe."

    I suspect you're right. People like the familiar, and EVs are strange enough for most already without having an entirely different method of calculating economy.

    As a European, I don't like g/km of CO2, mainly because I'm taxed on it. And since CO2 is directly linked to the fuel you burned, it means I'm being taxed on fuel TWICE. And the CO2 tax is indiscriminate of how much fuel I actually use, unlike regular fuel duty.

  5. Thanks for the added info.

    How does the CO2 tax work? Is it a yearly tax regardless of how much you drive?

  6. Essentially. Pre-2001 it was based on engine size. £130 a year sub-1549cc, £215/yr over 1549cc. Since then, it's been CO2 based.

    Full details here:

    So you could potentially pay zero in tax if you had a Prius and drove 20k miles a year, and pay £460 a year tax if you drove a Range Rover 20 miles a year.

    I don't mind paying duty on fuel as it's directly proportional to how much fuel you use. CO2-based tax is indiscriminate and arbitrary.

  7. Shorter link to UK tax site here:

  8. Tax policy can be very strange indeed. I suppose many places around the world charge sales tax when you buy a car. We have that here in Massachusetts as well.

    However, we also have something called "excise" tax that we might pay EVERY year based on the value of the car. For an older car, it might be only $100/year, but for a newer car it might be $1000/year.

  9. I think the fact that MPGe appeals to something people already understand is what makes it so misleading. It will make people believe that the Leaf is a better car than the Prius because it's more efficient; what they might not realize is that the fact the Leaf gets more mileage from a gallon of gasoline's worth of energy is neither here nor there because there is no way to get that gasoline's energy content in a Leaf's battery without loosing more than half of it in the conversion process.

    So yes, the Leaf is a better car than the Prius, but not because it uses a gallon gasoline's worth of energy more efficient, but because it doesn't use that gallon of gasoline at all.

  10. I think you are on to something here.

    For me, it is fact that electrons can be made in many ways like wind, solar, and wave. Gasoline pretty much has to be dug up out of the ground and that ground may be in some other country. When the gasoline is consumed, it creates more problems.

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