While it's not the most fuel-efficient vehicle you can buy today in America, the Italian-bred Fiat 500 is pretty darn close to it, with fuel economy approaching 40 mpg for some versions.
Fiat says the 2012 500 will get an EPA-certified fuel economy of 30/38 mpg city/highway when outfitted with the standard five-speed manual transmission. As for the six-speed automatic that's an option on the 500, Fiat says it's good for 27/34 mpg.
In contrast, the manual-gearbox Ford Fiesta is rated at 28/37 mpg, while the dual-clutch Fiesta automatic earns a 30/40 mpg rating, according to Ford. Then there's the sporty-ish Honda CR-Z, which clocks its best EPA ratings with a 35/39 mpg rating, though in our experience its real-world ratings can drop deep below or soar far above those numbers.
Fiat promises an electric version of the 500 will go into production by the fourth quarter of 2012.