The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage has the highest fuel-efficiency rating for any car that’s neither a hybrid nor a plug-in. The version fitted with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is rated at 40 mpg combined (37 mpg city, 44 mpg highway). Opting for the five-speed manual, which is $1,000 cheaper, knocks that down to 37 mpg combined (34 mpg city, 42 mpg highway).
Those are remarkable numbers. They’re higher than the two-seat Smart ForTwo, and the lower of the two combined numbers equals the previous highest-rated gasoline car, the “3+1-seat” Scion iQ that’s only marginally longer than a Smart. Yet the Mirage offers four entry doors, seats for at least four, and all the cargo flexibility of a small five-door hatchback.
To do better on gas mileage in a car this size requires stepping up to either the Toyota Prius C (at 50 mpg combined) or the Honda Insight (at 42 mpg combined). Those cars too are five-door hatchbacks, both slightly larger than the Mirage—but their base prices are $6,000 to $7,000 higher. If you’re looking for very high gas mileage in a car with four usable seats, the 2014 Mirage is the cost-effective champ.