Top 5 Most Fuel-Efficient Gas-Only Cars
|Cars. Photo: Mixi's Canva|
Top 5 Most Fuel-Efficient Gas-Only Cars in 2021
1. Mitsubishi Mirage: 36/43/39 city/highway/combined mpg
2. Hyundai Elantra: 33/43/37 mpg
3. Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio: 33/41/36 mpg
4. Honda Civic: 32/42/36 mpg
5. Toyota Corolla Hatchback: 32/41/35 mpg
Detailed Information - Top 5 Most Fuel-Efficient Gas-Only Cars in 2021
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage
|Photo: The Car Connection|
All Mirage and Mirage G4 variants are powered by the same 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 78 horsepower and 74 pounds-feet of torque. The base model, called ES, comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, which can be swapped for a continuously variable automatic transmission for an extra $1,300. The variant with the highest mileage is the CVT-equipped Mirage hatchback (36/43/39 mpg city/highway/combined); the G4 sedan is rated slightly lower. Models with the five-speed are rated much lower.
Both the Mirage hatchback and Mirage G4 sedan get significantly updated exterior styling. That includes a new grille design and new bumpers front and rear, bringing the cars more in line with the current Mitsubishi design language while giving them a sportier look. New LED taillights complete the look across the lineup, while the top SE trim can also be equipped with LED headlights and daytime running lights.
A new Carbonite Edition special edition version is available with select exterior paint colors, too. It includes no overt “Star Wars” references but does revise the exterior appearance slightly with faux carbon-fiber and red accents.
2021 Hyundai Elantra
Gas-powered versions of the Elantra compact sedan see the highest fuel economy rating from the base powertrain: The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 147 hp and runs on a more efficient Atkinson cycle for 2021. It pairs with a CVT for an EPA rating of 33/43/37 mpg on the Elantra’s base trim level, called SE. Unfortunately, the sedan’s two higher trim levels with the base engine — the SEL and Limited — drop to 31/41/35 mpg.
2021 Hyundai Accent, 2021 Kia Rio
These subcompact siblings come from affiliated automakers Hyundai and Kia, and they use the same powertrain: a 120-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that pairs with a CVT automatic (the Accent also offers a six-speed manual). Models with the CVT have the highest fuel economy in the lineup (33/41/36 mpg), though the manual Accent’s 29/39/33 mpg is reasonably close behind.
2021 Honda Civic
Sedan versions of the Honda Civic use a standard 158-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or an optional 174-hp, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Hatchback models come only with the 1.5-liter engine. (The Civic coupe, including the higher-performance Si, has been discontinued.) Both the sedan and hatchback have a standard continuously variable automatic transmission, but the hatchback also has an available six-speed manual.
The performance-oriented Civic Type R comes only as a four-seat hatchback and is powered by a 306-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered.
The Civic sedan with the 1.5-liter turbo and CVT is the most fuel efficient version with an EPA rating of 32/42/36 mpg for two mid-grade trim levels, called EX and EX-L; the sedan’s range-topping trim, called Touring, has the same engine but falls to 30/38/33 mpg. (Lower ratings accompany the sedan’s lesser trim levels, which have the 2.0-liter engine, as well as all Civic hatchbacks. EPA numbers for those cars land between 32 and 34 mpg combined, depending on specifics; the Type R hatchback is rated considerably worse, at 25 mpg combined.)
2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
|Photo: Car and Driver|
The Corolla Hatchback gets power from a 168-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that works with a six-speed manual or a CVT. The Corolla Hatchback’s base trim level, called the SE, gets the best fuel economy (32/41/35 mpg) when equipped with the CVT. A higher trim level, the XSE, falls to 33 mpg combined, while the stick-shift-equipped Corolla Hatchback lands at 31 mpg combined. The Corolla sedan offers the 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a smaller, 1.8-liter four-cylinder. Depending on specifics, EPA combined ratings for the Corolla sedan range from 31 to 34 mpg.
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