What Cars Get Good Gas Mileage?

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As gas prices rise, many consumers are taking a closer look at their cars. The most efficient cars are those that get the highest miles per gallon (MPG). These vehicles are not only more affordable when it comes to fuel, but they also offer a number of environmental benefits. As automotive technology improves, consumers will find their options for fuel-efficient vehicles increase to meet growing demand.

Young girl in the back of a Smart Car.
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There are a number of common vehicle features associated with good gas mileage. Cars that are small and lightweight require less energy to operate, on average. In addition, vehicles with manual transmissions generally require less fuel than those with automatic systems. Finally, look for features designed to improve fuel efficiency. A direct fuel injection system can reduce gas consumption by 11 percent to 13 percent, and a turbocharged engine can improve mileage by 5 percent.

American $50 bill in gas tank of car.
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To find the most fuel-efficient vehicles, consider alternative technologies. Hybrid vehicles are powered by a gasoline/electric blend that provides some of the best gas mileage of any vehicle. Electric cars contain a rechargeable battery and require little to no gas. Cars with diesel engines tend to operate more efficiently than those with gasoline motors. Alternative fuel vehicles, such as those powered by ethanol, are another option for those looking to reduce gas consumption.

Blue Hybrid sports car.
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Although lower fuel costs are the most obvious benefit of good gas mileage, there are a number of other advantages to consider. Reduced gas use results in fewer carbon emissions, which can protect the environment and help prevent global climate change. Because gasoline is a limited resource, it is important to use it as efficiently as possible to extend the life of the world's remaining supply. Reduced gasoline consumption also helps minimize the country's dependence on foreign oil supplies.

Hand pumping gas into car.
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According to a July 2009 publication from Consumer Reports, the Toyota Prius was the most fuel-efficient car with 35 MPG in the city and 50 MPG highway. The SmartCar followed close behind, with 30 MPG city and 44 highway. The Honda Civic Hybrid also ranked highly in this report. The U.S. Department of Energy also named the Prius as the most efficient vehicle of 2009, with the SmartCar, MINI Cooper, Toyota Yaris and Honda Civic Hybrid following close behind.

Toyota Prius.
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There are a number of potential considerations that must be made when selecting energy-efficient vehicles. Electric and hybrid vehicles require expensive batteries, and it might be hard to find mechanics skilled in working on these cars. Both require idle time for charging, which might inconvenience some users. Hybrid vehicles also tend to have higher upfront costs. Although there are a number of tax credits associated with fuel-efficient vehicles, there are no guarantees that these incentives will last as these technologies become more mainstream.

Hybrid car.
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