Plenty of so-called "hypermilers" compete to see who can travel the furthest on the least amount of gasoline, but for the rest of us, the 2012 Toyota Prius just delivers unparalleled fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2012 Prius at 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 50 mpg. That's the highest number you can buy this year in any car that doesn't plug in to recharge a battery pack.
Using the EV-only driving mode, accelerating lightly, and planning ahead can give you 60 mpg or better on level surfaces at slower speeds. Our experts once managed 69.5 mpg, though in more real-world mixed usage, we expect 45 to 50 mpg to be the norm. A heavy right foot or sustained high-speed travels may drop that number into the high 30s, since the Hybrid Synergy Drive system is at its most effective in stop-and-go urban and suburban traffic where the engine can shut off frequently. But if you do a lot of city driving, a sustained 50 mpg or better is entirely possible. Just ask the taxi drivers who relish the low operating costs of their Prius cabs.