In light of a 2018 study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, the annual cost of running a gas-powered car was pegged at $1,117. With today’s escalating fuel prices, this figure has undoubtedly increased.

To mitigate soaring fuel expenses, prioritizing fuel-efficient vehicles becomes essential. Although hybrid and electric vehicles are gaining traction, traditional internal combustion engines remain prevalent.

For those aiming to reduce gasoline expenditure without investing heavily in hybrid or electric technology, here’s a look at the top gas-only models, according to EPA estimates, that promise to keep fuel costs in check.

Mini Hardtop and Convertible

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 32/29/38 mpg

The Mini Hardtop and Convertible, particularly in the three-cylinder Cooper version with an automatic transmission, stand out for their fuel efficiency at 32 mpg combined.

These models, available in two and four doors, balance a playful drive with economical performance. Even when opting for the six-speed manual or the Cooper S model, the fuel economy remains commendable.

With a starting price of $26,795, these Minis offer a good mix of economy and enjoyment, delivering 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, embodying a smart choice for those seeking both style and substance.

Acura Integra

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 33/30/37 mpg

The 2024 Acura Integra, returning 33 mpg combined, echoes the Honda Civic’s legacy, merging premium features with practicality in a hatchback format.

This model shines in its base form, which promises the best fuel economy, thanks to smaller wheels that contribute to its efficiency. Despite forgoing the sportier upgrades of its pricier counterparts, the standard Integra still packs a 200-hp turbocharged engine.

Priced at $32,695, it offers 30 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, positioning itself as a blend of luxury and frugality for the discerning driver.

Nissan Kicks

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 33/31/36 mpg

The Nissan Kicks, with its 122-horsepower four-cylinder engine, focuses on fuel efficiency, achieving 33 mpg combined. This subcompact SUV is tied to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), enhancing its economy on the road.

While its performance is modest, its fuel efficiency is a standout feature. However, frequent fuel stops might be needed due to its smaller tank.

With a base price of $22,155 and fuel economy ratings of 31 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, the Kicks offers a budget-friendly option for those prioritizing fuel savings.

Nissan Sentra

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 33/30/40 mpg

Economical yet stylish, the Nissan Sentra delivers a solid 34 mpg combined, thanks to its 149-hp 2.0-liter engine paired with a CVT.

This sedan strikes a balance between affordability and fuel efficiency, presenting an attractive option for cost-conscious drivers, especially when fuel prices are high. The Sentra’s smaller tank size also means less pain at the pump during fill-ups.

Priced at $21,745 and offering 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, the Sentra stands out as a practical choice for efficient and economical driving.

Volkswagen Jetta

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 34/30/41 mpg

The Volkswagen Jetta, with its 158-hp turbocharged engine, merges enjoyable driving dynamics with unexpected spaciousness.

Opting for the eight-speed automatic transmission optimizes fuel efficiency, achieving 34 mpg combined. Nevertheless, the six-speed manual option remains tempting for those willing to trade a bit of fuel economy for engagement.

With a starting price of $22,585 and mileage ratings of 30 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway, the Jetta offers a balanced package of performance, space, and fuel efficiency.

Kia Forte

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 34/30/41 mpg

Positioned beneath the K5 in Kia’s lineup, the Forte offers economical driving with a 147-hp engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), leading to a combined fuel efficiency of 34 mpg.

While it may not top the excitement charts, the Forte stands out with its comprehensive feature set, competitive pricing, and efficient base engine.

The Forte, priced at $20,915 and delivering 30 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway, presents a value proposition for buyers prioritizing cost-effectiveness and fuel economy in their vehicle choice.

Toyota Corolla/Hatchback

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 35/32/41 mpg

The Toyota Corolla, in both sedan and hatchback forms, epitomizes efficiency with a 169-hp Dynamic-Force 2.0-liter engine, achieving a commendable 35 mpg combined.

Equipped with a 10-speed transmission, it balances power and efficiency, providing 32 mpg in urban settings and 41 mpg on highways.

The Corolla also offers a practical cargo space of 17.8 cubic feet. With a starting MSRP of $23,505, it’s a smart choice for those seeking a reliable and fuel-efficient vehicle that doesn’t compromise on space or driving pleasure.

Nissan Versa

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 35/32/40 mpg

The Nissan Versa, powered by a 122-hp four-cylinder engine, excels in fuel economy at 35 mpg combined when paired with the CVT.

While it may not be the quickest on the road, the Versa shines in value, boasting significant interior room and a comprehensive suite of standard features.

With an attractive base price of $17,245 and fuel economy figures of 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, the Versa positions itself as an ideal option for budget-conscious buyers who still demand efficiency and comfort.

Hyundai Elantra

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 36/31/42 mpg

The Hyundai Elantra, with its 147-hp inline-four engine and CVT, stands out with an EPA-estimated 36 mpg combined fuel efficiency. For those prioritizing fuel savings, a hybrid version is available, enhancing its eco-friendly appeal.

Starting at $22,590, the Elantra offers a stylish and well-appointed option, boasting 31 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, making it a compelling choice for drivers seeking a blend of economy, aesthetics, and value.

Honda Civic

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 36/33/42 mpg

The Honda Civic, often recognized for its versatility and consistent high rankings, excels with a 180-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, achieving 36 mpg combined with a CVT.

Available in both sedan and hatchback versions, the Civic caters to various preferences, with the hatchback offering up to 35 mpg combined. The sedan model, equipped with the standard 2.0-liter engine, also delivers commendable fuel efficiency at 33 mpg combined.

With a base price of $25,045 and achieving 33 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, the Civic is a top contender for those seeking an all-around efficient and reliable vehicle.

Mitsubishi Mirage

  • EPA combined/city/highway: 39/36/43 mpg

The Mitsubishi Mirage, with its modest 78-horsepower three-cylinder engine, leads in fuel economy, boasting an impressive 39 mpg combined with its CVT.

Available as both a hatchback and a sedan (Mirage G4), it prioritizes efficiency over speed. The Mirage G4, slightly less economical, achieves 37 mpg combined. Despite its leisurely acceleration, with a tested 0 to 60 mph time of 12.8 seconds, the Mirage’s appeal lies in its fuel-sipping nature and affordability.

Priced at $17,950, with city and highway efficiencies of 36 and 43 mpg respectively, it offers an excellent value for those seeking maximum fuel efficiency on a budget.

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Author: Abbie Clark

Title: Co-Founder

Expertise: Automotive Industry, Electric Vehicles, DIY Car Repairs


Abbie Clark is a writer, blog, and founder of RideRambler, Hey She Thrives, and The Bearded Bunch.

From clever car cleaning tricks to the freshest car features and reviews, Abbie loves sharing her knowledge on everything automotive. Outside of her time writing for her websites, you’ll find her fishing with her husband, deciphering her toddler’s babbling, or baking up something sweet.

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