Most ordinary gasoline models look like guzzlers next to the hybrids—and a few compact diesel models—that dominate the upper echelon of this year's EPA fuel economy ratings. For instance, according to the EPA's Fuel Economy Guide information released last week, a 2010 Toyota Prius will cost less than half as much to keep fueled for a year's worth of driving than the seemingly fuel-efficient four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive 2010 Toyota RAV4. According to EPA estimates, the savings would rack up to $850; and that's with gas prices at a relatively low $2.58 a gallon.
At least you're not driving a 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago (8 mpg City) or a 2010 Bentley Azure or Bentley Brooklands (9 mpg City), right? Right?
The hybrid-heavy results aren't too surprising, but there remains just one non-hybrid gasoline model in our top ten, with the 2010 Toyota Yaris, and Volkswagen's new 2010 Golf and Jetta diesels, filling it up. Several new hybrid models for 2010, including the Honda Insight and Lexus HS 250h, have taken new top positions and pushing out other small, inexpensive cars, while the 2010 Toyota Prius was again the most fuel-efficient vehicle overall, with a 50-mpg Combined rating.
We've listed official fuel economy figures and estimated annual fuel cost from the EPA (assuming 15,000 miles and that $2.58/gal fuel price), and our Overall Rating and Bottom Line take on these models. Please click on the individual models for detailed information including pricing, specs, and comprehensive reviews, plus galleries of images.
Here are this year's fuel economy champs:
EPA City/Highway/Combined mpg: 51/49/50
EPA Annual Fuel Cost: $774
TheCarConnection Meta Review Rating: 8.2
The Bottom Line: The 2010 Toyota Prius ups the ante in the hybrid world with 51-mpg city fuel economy and a finer style.
Between TheCarConnection.com, GreenCarReports.com, and our go-to site, AllAboutPrius.com, we've reported, literally, all about this mileage-topping model. We like the more upscale feel of the new Prius, its improved headroom, and more upscale feel while criticizing its restrictive new console design and, well, how it still drives very much like a hybrid. In several driving experiences the editors of TheCarConnection.com have seen some very extraordinary high-mileage results in ordinary driving. Most recently, we averaged 53 mpg in 140 miles of commute-style driving, but we've also seen as high as 77 mpg, and in his First Drive Executive Editor Marty Padgett reported getting nearly 70 mpg "without even really trying—just coasting to stops, accelerating very gradually and using the Prius' EV mode to coast into our host hotel."