Most Fuel-Efficient Cars by Category for 2016

Aubrey Cohen

If you want the most fuel-efficient car, it's probably going to be a small or electric vehicle. But sometimes you need room for hauling kids and gear, so a small car isn't an option.

To help you find a vehicle that meets your needs, here's a list of the most fuel-efficient cars in a variety of categories. Fuel efficiency and base price are listed, although you should also factor in other costs of ownership, such as maintenance and insurance.

The difference in insurance costs can be particularly dramatic among different kinds of vehicles. Liability rates are often high for large SUVs because they cause more damage and injuries in an accident. 

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Conversely, collision and personal-injury costs can be higher for small cars, which tend not to fare as well in a crash. Sports cars generally have higher rates than minivans because the people who drive them tend to get into more crashed.

Here are the most fuel-efficient cars by category:

Small car

Electric: BMW i3 -- This small yet stylish car achieves 124 combined city and highway miles per gallon equivalent (how far a vehicle travels on the energy contained in a gallon of gas). That's impressive, but so is its $42,400 base price.

Family/affordable sedan

Hybrid: Toyota Prius Eco -- You need room for your kids in the back, but that extra space can't come with a high price tag for many families. Here's where the Prius Eco comes in. It earns 56 mpg with a $24,700 base price.

Luxury sedan

Electric: Tesla Model S -- This sedan delivers when it comes to fuel economy and luxury. It has 103 mpg equivalent and a starting price of $70,000.

Large sedan

Hybrid: Toyota Avalon Hybrid -- The Avalon has been a popular car for Toyota for more than 20 years. This hybrid model delivers 40 mpg with a $36,650 base price.

Sports convertible

Smart ForTwo Electric Cabriolet -- Sporty and small (very small, actually) describes this fun car. Even with the top down it earns 107 mpg equivalent. Base price is $15,490. 

Minivan

Gas: Nissan Quest -- It's a minivan so you can't expect it to compete with some of the others on the list, but for its category (and 23 mpg with a $26,580 base price) the Quest isn't too shabby.

Small SUV

Hybrid: Lexus NX 300h -- You can add that sense of luxury that Lexus is known for while still keeping your SUV fuel costs in check. The NX comes in at 33 mpg and a price of $39,720.

Wagon

Electric: Kia Soul EV -- Kia Souls have been gaining popularity since their introduction in 2009. The EV delivers 105 mpg equivalent with a $31,950 base price.

Mid-size SUV

Electric: Tesla Model X -- The most energy-efficient of all SUVs on the list, this Model X will give you 92 mpg equivalent. It isn't cheap, though. Look for a $83,000 price tag.

Large SUVs

Hybrid: Infiniti QX60 Hybrid -- It's big and luxurious so you might overlook its 26 mpg rating. Expect to pay around $52,050 for the QX60.

Pickup truck

Diesel: Chevrolet Colorado Diesel -- The only diesel vehicle to make the list is the Colorado. Expect 25 mpg with a base price of $20,100.

Those are a lot of options and categories to consider. Hopefully, you can find something that suits your needs and saves you at the pump (or, in the case of electric cars, lets you avoid the pump altogether). 

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