2014 Ford Fiesta: EcoBoost (European version)Enlarge Photo
You want a four-seat car with the highest EPA combined gas-mileage rating you can get--but you've decided you don't want a hybrid.
For 2014, two new competitors are joining the fray--and they seem likely to offer considerably better fuel efficiency than today's best-of-the-pack.
This year, your winning choice is the 2013 Nissan Versa L subcompact sedan, rated at a combined 35 mpg when fitted with the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
(The 2014 Nissan Versa Note hatchback is also rated at 35 mpg with the same powertrain, by the way.)
Coming for the 2014 model year, though, are two cars that promise to surpass the Versa models' ratings.
The first one is the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage, that maker's first subcompact in the U.S. for more than a decade.
Launched this spring at the New York Auto Show, the small, rounded hatchback features a 1.2-liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine that develops a modest 74 horsepower and 74 pounds-feet of torque.
Two transmissions are offered--either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT--and with the latter, the 2014 Mirage's projected EPA combined rating is 40 mpg (37 mpg city, 44 mpg highway).
That's better than any other subcompact except the hybrid Toyota Prius C hatchback (at 50 mpg combined).
The other non-hybrid contender the updated 2014 Ford Fiesta subcompact, fitted with a new engine.
It's the new 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that uses Ford's EcoBoost turbocharging technology to deliver about the same power as a conventional 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, previously the sole option in U.S. Fiestas.
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage at 2013 New York Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
That engine is far more powerful than the non-turbocharged Mitsubishi one: The 1.0-liter three puts out 123 horsepower (at a high 6,000 rpm) and a fairly useful 148 lb-ft of torque (at 1,400 rpm).
We drove a prototype 2014 Ford Fiesta EcoBoost last fall, and found it enjoyable and zippy, especially when driving it hard on the switchback roads through the canyons of Los Angeles.
We didn't take any gas-mileage readings during our brief, hard test drive, however, and Ford hasn't yet released final specifications for the 2014 Fiesta.
So we're looking forward to seeing whether the EcoBoost Fiesta can equal or best the somewhat underpowered Mitsubishi.
Ford has said only that the Fiesta 1.0-liter will be among the highest-rated non-hybrid cars for gas mileage, so we think this should be one to watch.