2009 vw jetta tdi 006Enlarge Photo
But what about cars that regularly do better than the EPA ratings for gas mileage? Using data obtained from a variety of sources, here is a list of five cars we feel regularly get better gas mileage than their EPA ratings.
Before we start however, we need to point out a few caveats.
Firstly, we’re using unverified user-submitted data from both the EPA’s FuelEconomy.Gov website and cleanmpg.com as well as anecdotal evidence from owners‘ forums. With no way to verify the information scientifically, we have to view the information with a degree of healthy skepticism.
Secondly, the data obtained does not detail location or driving cycle, so this list should only be used as a loose guide into stealthy higher-gas mileage cars.
Thirdly, in each case, we’re listing the highest reported gas mileage we’re aware of for each car, not an average. Again, we have been unable to verify any of the claimed gas mileages.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta 6-Speed Manual
Official EPA Rating: 34 MPG Combined
Reported Mileage: Up To 52 MPG
Back in 2009, Volkswagen paid an independent tester to examine the gas mileage of its 2009 VW Jetta, yielding test results as much as 24 percent higher than the EPA’s official gas mileage results.
It soon became a well-known fact among green car fans that the Jetta’s TDI turbodiesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox underperformed on slow gas-mileage tests, but could achieve over 52 mpg when driven well on the freeway.
The Jetta isn’t alone either. Nearly every other Volkswagen diesel on the market today outperforms its EPA rating in real-life, from the 2012 VW Golf TDI through to its 2012 VW Touareg TDI.
2011 Smart Fortwo
2011 Smart FortwoEnlarge Photo
2012 Smart ForTwo
Official EPA Rating: 36 MPG Combined
Reported Mileage: Up To 46 MPG
Two-seat cars might not be to everyone’s tastes, but the diminutive city car from Europe combines go-cart handling and eco-minded fuel economy.
With a tiny 1 liter engine, it won’t win you any stop-light races, but will save you some serious money on your fuel bill.
The most efficient gas-powered car on the market today, the Smart ForTwo promises EPA-beating efficiency provided you don’t mind its tiny dimensions.
2012 Honda Insight (CVT)
Official EPA Rating: 42 Combined
Reported Mileage: Up To 52 MPG
Although Honda might be under attack for producing a car which didn’t reproduce the official EPA gas mileage ratings in real-life, the Honda Insight is capable of leaving its EPA ratings far behind.
2012 Honda Insight EX with NavigationEnlarge Photo
We’ve seen various reports of Insight drivers getting gas mileage figures into the low 50s, despite a combined EPA rating of 42 MPG.
In both cases, the cars were fitted with Honda’s continuously-variable transmission (CVT), rather than a more conventional automatic gearbox.
2012 Fiat 500 Manual 5 Speed
Official EPA Rating: 33 Combined
Reported Mileage: Up To 47 MPG
Popular in Europe, Fiat’s subcompact hatchback is relatively new to the U.S. market, and fits into the same niche market segment occupied other retro-styled cars like the 2012 Mini Cooper and 2012 VW Beetle.
One of our 2012 Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy Nominees, the Fiat 500 is already proving itself in the gas-mileage stakes, with careful driving yielding a claimed 41 mpg.
U.S.-spec 2012 Fiat 500c
U.S.-spec 2012 Fiat 500cEnlarge Photo
2011 BMW 335d
Official EPA Rating: 27 MPG Combined
Reported Mileage: Up To 38 MPG
Generally, gas mileage isn’t the first thing you think of when BMW is mentioned.
But user reports suggest that the current diesel-powered 5-series can outperform its EPA rating, reaching gas mileage figures that many small cars would struggle to reach.
Sadly however, the BMW 335d has a hefty sticker price of $44,150, putting luxury well above gas mileage.
What Have We Missed?
Have we chosen the wrong EPA-beaters? Do you know of cars that do much better than the EPA rating?
Let us know in the Comments below.