By Aubrey Cohen
Electric and hybrid cars are all the rage, but these days even your traditional gas-powered cars can be a fuel-efficient way to travel.
One caveat is that these cars tend to be small, which means less space and often less safety as well, because smaller cars generally fare worse in accidents. Also, higher insurance costs may eat into the fuel savings, because insurers charge more to make up for the higher risk of damage and injuries.
It’s always a good idea to consider insurance quotes, along with purchase price and ownership costs, before buying a car.
Here's a rundown of the most fuel-efficient cars powered by gas. Because many of these cars are small, details have been added relating to space and safety (ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety relate to 2015 models).
Note: Where multiple versions of a car rated at or above 35 miles per gallon (combined city and highway), we chose the most efficient. To break ties, we ranked cars using city and highway ratings. Those that were still tied are listed randomly.
Countdown: Gas-powered cars that will save on fuel costs
13. Nissan Versa: 35 combined miles per gallon (31 city, 40 highway)
The Versa was one of seven cars at 35 combined miles per gallon, but had the lowest total of city and highway ratings. It also has the lowest base price, $11,990. It performed poorly on an IIHS crash test.
8. (tie) Toyota Corolla: 35 combined miles per gallon (30 city, 42 highway)
The Corolla that makes this list is the LE Eco version, which has the highest base price, $19,135, of the 13 cars. It ties with the Honda Civic for the most passenger space (98 cubic feet). The Corolla got a five-star rating (the best) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
8. (tie) Ford Focus: 35 combined miles per gallon (30 city, 42 highway)
The Focus hatchback has the most cargo space, 23 cubic feet, of any car on this list. It got a five-star rating from the NHTSA.
8. (tie) Chevrolet Cruze: 35 combined miles per gallon (30 city, 42 highway)
The Cruze has the least luggage space, 10 cubic feet, of any car on this list except for the Smart ForTwo. The 2015 version got a five-star rating from the NHTSA (the 2016 model isn’t rated).
8. (tie) Chevrolet Spark: 35 combined miles per gallon (30 city, 42 highway)
The Spark is the only car here that seats four. The rest seat five except for the Smart ForTwo, which seats two.
8. (tie) Hyundai Elantra: 35 combined miles per gallon (32 city, 40 highway)
The Elantra got a five-star rating from the NHTSA.
7. Honda Civic: 35 combined miles per gallon (31 city, 42 highway)
The Civic tied with the Toyota Corolla for the most passenger space (28 cubic feet). It’s also one of two cars that’s anIIHS Top Safety Pick+ (the four-door version, with optional collision warning and automatic braking systems). The 2015 four-door version got a five-star rating from the NHTSA (the 2016 model isn’t rated).
6. Smart ForTwo: 36 combined miles per gallon (34 city, 39 highway)
As its name implies, the ForTwo only seats two. It also has just 7.8 cubic feet of luggage space, unless you fold down the passenger seat. The upside is a really small turning radius and the ability to fit into tiny parking spaces.
4. (tie) Ford Fiesta: 36 combined miles per gallon (31 city, 43 highway)
The Fiesta has the least passenger space (85 cubic feet) of any of these cars except for the Smart ForTwo, although it does seat five, unlike the slightly larger Chevrolet Spark.
4. (tie) Honda Fit: 36 combined miles per gallon (33 city, 41 highway)
The Fit earned a five-star rating from the NHTSA.
3. Scion iA: 37 combined miles per gallon (33 city, 42 highway)
The iA is the only car on this list that is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ without optional features. It comes with a system that detects hazards and, in certain cases, applies the brakes automatically.
2. Mazda 2: 37 combined miles per gallon (33 city, 43 highway)
1. Mitsubishi Mirage (2017 model): 39 combined miles per gallon (37 city, 43 highway)
In addition to topping fuel-economy ratings, the Mirage has the most luggage space among the sedans on our list (17 cubic feet). It performed well in four out of five crash-worthiness categories listed by the IIHS.
If you’re looking to save on fuel without going electric, hopefully one of these options appeals to you. Just remember to factor safety, space and insurance costs.