Unless you don’t own a car, or happen to drive an all-electric car, the chances are you’ll have noticed that gas prices have risen dramatically over the past few days. 

But as growing uncertainly in the Middle East -- not to mention the knock-on effects of a large gasoline refinery fire in Washington state -- continue to hit car drivers in the wallet every time they fill up, here are five used cars we think will save you money at the pump.

1: 2004-2009 Toyota Prius Hybrid

EPA:   48  (city)  45  (highway) 46  (combined)

The most popular hybrid car ever sold in the U.S., the second generation Toyota Prius combines the practicality of a hatchback with extremely high gas mileage. 

If well looked after, the gas-sipping 5-seat hatchback should continue to give impressive gas mileage many years -- and hundreds of thousands of miles -- after it first rolled off the dealer lot. 

As a family car it may not have the same space as a traditional minivan, but it does provide more than adequate space for a small to medium-sized family to use it as a daily driver. 

Better still, the 2004-2009 Toyota Prius is well-supported by the aftermarket community, boasting everything from tow hitch attachments to plug-in hybrid conversion kits and improved handling packages to liven up what is otherwise a rather dull driving experience.

2: 2002-2005 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Wagon (Manual)

EPA:  31 (city) 39 (highway)  34 (combined)

If you need the space of a small minivan or crossover SUV, but want to switch your current car for something a little more frugal, the 2002-2005 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon could be your answer. 

Powered by diesel rather than gasoline, the 2002-2005 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Wagon will be better suited to areas of the U.S. known for high number of diesel-friendly gas stations, such as the Pacific Coast.

Admittedly, it doesn’t have quite as much space as a full-blown minivan -- and it only seats 5 passengers -- but this wagon variant will swallow a surprisingly large amount of cargo in its load area.

While the EPA rating lists the Jetta TDI Wagon with a combined fuel economy of 34 mpg, many owners report getting a much higher gas mileage in the real world. 

2000 Honda Insight

2000 Honda Insight

3: 2000-2006 Honda Insight (Manual)

EPA:  48  (city) 58 (highway) 52 (combined)

Most consumers assume the Toyota Prius was the first hybrid car to be sold in the U.S., but the quirky-shaped 2000-2006 Honda Insight beat it to market by the smallest of margins.

With an extremely aerodynamic design and aluminum body panels, the 2000-2006 Honda Insight is both lightweight and fuel efficient, offering fuel economy that the Prius has struggled to match for years.

The first car to use Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist system, the original Insight combines a 67 horsepower 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine with a 10 kilowatt electric motor, giving it a performance nearer to a 1.5 liter engine car than a 1.0 liter car. Originally offered as a manual-only car, it later came with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) option. Easier to drive, the CVT transmission isn't quite as fuel efficient as the manual, but still returns an impressively high gas mileage. 

With seating for two, the Insight isn’t a family car. But if you’re looking for a quirky, fuel-efficient used car for your daily commute, the Honda Insight could be for you.

2012 Ford Escape Hybrid

2012 Ford Escape Hybrid

4: 2004-2012 Ford Escape Hybrid FWD

EPA:  31 (city) 29 (highway) 30  (combined)

Sadly due to end production this year, the 2004-2012 Ford Escape Hybrid combines a compact crossover with the fuel economy of a gasoline-electric drivetrain. 

Available in all-wheel and front-wheel drive configurations, the AWD Ford Escape has slightly worse gas mileage than its FWD sibling, but still represents impressive gas mileage for an SUV.

Like the 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, aftermarket firms offer plug-in hybrid conversion kits, allowing you to turn your Escape Hybrid into an even higher gas-mileage car. 

As for reliability? The Ford Escape Hybrid is a mainstay taxi fleets in San Francisco and New York, with many retiring taxi cabs clocking up over 300,000 miles without any major mechanical or electrical problems.

5:2008-2012 Smart ForTwo Coupe

EPA:  33 (city)  41  (highway) 36  (combined)

The smallest car currently on sale in the U.S., the Smart ForTwo Coupe combines a stylish city runabout with high gas mileage. 

But with hardly any luggage space and seating for just two, the diminutive two-seater is only useful to a tiny portion of the car-buying market.

2011 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe

2011 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe

For those with limited parking space who don’t need to carry large amounts of luggage or more than one passenger at the time, the Smart ForTwo offers great gas mileage, precise handling and quirky design in one small package. 

Since launch, Canadian car buyers have been able to combine the Smart ForTwo with an ultra-small 0.7 liter TDI diesel engine, resulting in gas mileage figures well into the high 50s. 

While it has never been officially sold in the U.S. with a diesel option, limited numbers of Canadian-market Smart ForTwo TDI cars have been imported privately to the U.S. and occasionally appear on auction sites like eBay.

Your Recommendations?

Have you recently swapped your car for a used, higher gas-mileage car in order to compensate for rising gasoline prices? 

Do you have any recommendations for reliable, affordable, high gas-mileage cars you can buy used?

Let us know in the Comments below.


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