Top 5 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars: Consumer Reports

April 8, 2011

American drivers continue to downsize their vehicle choices to enhance fuel economy. No wonder. Gas prices have steadily increased since last fall, and drivers across the country are wondering when escalating fuel prices will begin to come down.

In the meantime, commuters and others who have no choice but to put on a higher-than-average number of miles each year are looking for the most fuel-efficient vehicles they can find. If you have to purchase a new vehicle anyway, why not get one that will save you money each time you fill up the gas tank?

Consumer Reports (CR) has released its own list of the most fuel-efficient cars. They didn’t rely on the government’s EPA ratings that appear on the window sticker of new cars. Instead, this “keeping-them-honest” consumer organization performed its own, “real world” testing of each vehicle for a more accurate expectation of fuel economy.

CR emphasizes that this list is not a recommendation of the vehicles themselves, but only reflect fuel-economy test results.

1. Toyota Prius IV – 44 mpg/overall

The Prius has been Consumer Reports' fuel-economy champion for years. It once again leads the pack by a wide margin. CR results: 32 miles per gallon/city, 55 mpg/hwy, and 44 mpg/overall.

2. Smart Fortwo Passion – 39 mpg/overall

Smart USA vehicles seem to be in disfavor with the American public. They were the big loser in national auto sales figures last month. Almost every carmaker saw their sales rise in March. However, Smart USA’s national sales dropped an unhealthy 37 percent from a year ago. Such a large decrease in sales for fuel-efficient vehicles during a period of escalating gas prices is not a good sign for this carmaker. CR results: 30 mpg/city, 44 mpg/hwy, and 39 mpg/overall. You can read the Smart Fortwo review from here.

3. Honda Insight EX – 38 mpg/overall

The redesigned five-door hatchback version of this hybrid vehicle first went on sale in the U.S. two years ago. Sales have been disappointing with the Insight apparently losing a head-to-head comparison with Toyota’s Prius. Read more from here. CR results: 29 mpg/city, 45 mpg/hwy, and 38 mpg/overall.

4. Volkswagen Golf TDI (Manual Transmission) – 38 mpg/overall

This is a clean-diesel TDI model that achieves hybrid-like fuel economy. CR results: 27 mpg/city, 49 mpg/hwy, and 38 mpg/overall. Read TheCarConnection’s review of the 2011 model here.

5. Honda Civic Hybrid – 37 mpg/overall

The 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid is the last model year for the current design. According to, expect Honda to switch from the current hybrid battery system to a smaller and lighter lithium-ion battery pack when the 2012 redesigned model is released later this year. This should increase the Civic Hybrid’s stature among green vehicles and, one would hope, provide even better fuel-economy ratings. CR results: 26 mpg/city, 47 mpg/hwy, and 37 mpg/overall.

Tomorrow we look at Consumer Reports' list of most fuel-efficient SUVs.

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