Most people think that in order to get 40 miles per gallon or better, one has to buy a hybrid. However, with the fuel efficiency arms race among car makers, there are a bevy cars that get 40 mpg without hybrid technology.
The fuel efficiency arms race is partially thanks to rising CAFE standards from the American government, which dictates car makers must average a certain fuel economy across all models. For every gas-guzzling full-size pickup or performance car, a fuel-sipping economy car or two has to offset it. There are also gas prices to deal with.
Up until a few years ago, 40 miles per gallon was sort of a “Holy Grail” of fuel efficiency; aside from hybrids like the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight, few cars could achieve it. Now, there are a host of cars that are capable of getting 40 miles per gallon in highway conditions now available.
Chevrolet has the Cruze Eco and Sonic, which are capable of 40 mpg when equipped with the EcoTec 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. The Cruze, in Eco trim, uses a six-speed manual that includes an Eco overdrive gear; the Sonic uses a standard five-speed. The Sonic, both sedan and hatchback, will get 40 mpg but only in the LT 1LZ trim. The 1.4-liter engine is an optional extra.
Both the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus are capable of 40 miles per gallon when the buyer chooses the SFE package, an optional extra, on the SE trims of both models. The SFE package comes with a dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The beasts from the East
The Mazda 3 sedan, in the iTouring and iGrand Touring trims, is capable of 40 miles per gallon using Mazda’s 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder SkyActiv engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Kia Rio sedan and Rio hatchback get 40 mpg, across all trims. Kia’s parent, Hyundai, also has the Accent, Elantra and Veloster compacts, all capable of 40 mpg.
Diesel impress you
Diesel engines are more fuel efficient than gasoline engines, but few companies offer them.
Volkswagen offers four TDI models capable of 40 mpg or greater. The Golf, Jetta and Jetta Sportwagen all get 42 miles per gallon and the Passat gets 43.
Audi also offers a 2.0-liter TDI engine for the A3 hatchback, which gets 42 mpg.
Spend to save
The Hyundai Accent is the least costly, at $12,545. The Chevrolet, Ford and Mazda models are only capable of high efficiency in upscale trims, and optional extras cost several thousand dollars to add. Volkswagen and Audi’s diesel models get mileage comparable to most hybrids, but the diesel option will cost you.
Volkswagen TDI models cost up to $7,000 more than gas models and the diesel A3 costs $3,000 more. Since diesel costs more than gas in America, savings at the pump are negated by the purchase price.