With fuel prices over $3.00 per gallon in much of the U.S., good mileage is a key consideration in lots of new-car purchases. Here’s your guide to the cars that use the least “conventional” fuel, be it gasoline or diesel. If you’re interested in “alternative” fuel vehicles, check out the CarPreview 2014 Electric Vehicle and Plug-in Hybrid Buying Guide and the CarPreview 2014 Hybrid Car Buying Guide.
Those “alternative” fuel vehicles are almost always more expensive than their conventional-fuel counterparts, however. And the good news is that conventional-fuel cars are more efficient than ever, thanks not only to more diesel-engine models but continued advancements in gas engines, including a proliferation of four-cylinder and even three-cylinder engines boosted by turbocharging.
Our 2014 Best Mileage Cars criteria are fairly simple: pick the five gasoline and diesel cars with the highest EPA city/highway combined fuel-economy rating. There is no price floor or ceiling. The base prices we list include manufacturer destination fees of roughly $900, but not options. The results might surprise you.
Here Are the Top Five Fuel Efficient Cars of 2014
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage
Base price range: $13,790-$14,790
Fuel-economy ratings span: 37-40 mpg city/highway combined
The first non-hybrid car to achieve 40 mpg city/highway combined comes from a Japanese automaker, but it’s not Honda, Mazda, Nissan, or Toyota. Such an achievement is a feather in Mitsubishi’s cap as the struggling company works to regain a foothold in the U.S. market. The diminutive Mirage is a subcompact-class, four-door hatchback, and it’s the first car offered for sale in North America to be imported from Thailand. Mirage splits the size gap between the even-smaller Chevrolet Spark and slightly larger Chevrolet Sonic. Power comes from a 74-horsepower 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, which rates at 37 mpg city/highway combined, according to the EPA. The optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) behaves like an automatic and allows Mirage to achieve its 40 mpg combined score. It’s not roomy, quick, or especially refined, but the car is a good city runabout that can accommodate four adults for short trips. Adding the optional navigation system and rearview camera will still keep the sticker price at less than $17,000. There are a number of dealer-installed dress-up accessories, but these can quickly inflate the bottom line, so be careful when making such selections.