The Most Fuel-Efficient Cars Include Lincolns and Lexuses?

March 26, 2011
2011 Toyota Prius

2011 Toyota Prius

There are green car lists, high fuel economy lists, and then there’s TrueCar’s annual Top 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars” list, which rates all new vehicles on sale in the new model year by gas mileage. The list is valuable in comparing fuel costs for highly fuel-efficient cars at TrueCar’s price-per-gallon points of $3.52 and $5.00.

This year, there are four models from Toyota/Lexus on the list, three Hondas, and one each from Lincoln, Chevrolet and Hyundai.

What, no Nissan Leaf? No, because the TrueCar list excluded pure electrics – based on no cost associated with filling up a tank (there is no tank, since the all-new 2011 Nissan Leaf is 100 percent pure electric).

What about the absence of diesels on the list? TrueCar says several diesel models – including the Volkswagen Golf TDI and Jetta TDI -- fell just outside the top 10.

Based on TrueCar’s math, there are clear winners in the dollars-and-cents equation of fuel efficiency. Whether or not these cars meet family needs is a personal decision. As Jesse Toprak, TrueCar.com’s vice president of industry trends and insight says, “When purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle, consumers should consider two factors – price and annual cost of fuel. If you’re looking for the most fuel-efficient car, Toyota Prius wins. If you’re looking for the most cost-effective and fuel-efficient car, the Hyundai Elantra is the clear winner.”

The top ten include these 2011 models:

2011 Toyota Prius – Long the number one winner of any and all fuel-efficient car lists, the 2011 Toyota Prius again takes the top spot in TrueCar’s annual listing. With combined 49.6 miles per gallon fuel economy, low purchase price ($23,810 MSRP and averaging $22,235), and annual estimated fuel costs (driving 15,000 miles) of $1,064 at $3.52 per gallon or $1,512 with gas at $5.00 per gallon, the Prius continues to rank as the best value for fuel-efficient car.

2011 Lexus CT 200h – An all-new entry in the luxury small car hybrid category, the 2011 Lexus CT 200h may not be every family’s cup of tea. But it is highly fuel efficient at a combined 41.6 miles per gallon. Average purchase price, says TrueCar, is just around the $30,000 mark, but the big savings is at the pump: $1,269/$1,803 in annual gas costs for fuel at $3.52 and $5.00 per gallon.

2011 Honda Insight – The first of three Hondas on the list, the 2011 Honda Insight (base price of $18,950, average purchase price of $17,851) achieves a highly fuel-efficient 41.3 mpg combined fuel economy. Annual estimated fuel costs of $1,279/$1,816 are just a few dollars more than the Lexus CT 200h – in a car with perhaps better family versatility.

2010 Honda Civic Hybrid

2010 Honda Civic Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

2011 Honda Civic Hybrid – Sharing the same combined 41.3-mpg fuel economy and estimated annual fuel costs as Insight, the 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid is a popular choice for consumers looking for a small hybrid. With an average purchase price of $25,290, it’s reasonably affordable as well.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – While TrueCar only lists the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, savvy consumers know that the Ford Fusion Hybrid carries the same combined 38.6 mpg. The Lincoln, however, is a luxury vehicle, whereas the Ford hybrid is in the more affordable category. Still, $1,368/$1,944 annual fuel costs looks pretty attractive – if fuel efficiency and family versatility are important considerations in a vehicle purchase.

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