Most Fuel Efficient cars 2021

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Most Fuel Efficient Cars 2021 Canada

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime | Manufacturer image

By Jennifer GeigerMarch 11, 2021ShareMore Share Options

Gas may still be historically cheap, but saving a little money never goes out of style — and when it comes to fuel efficiency, some vehicles are much better at trimming your gas budget than others.

Continue below for the EPA’s list of the five most fuel-efficient cars on sale now for the 2021 model year. We’ll list them in three categories: gas-only vehicles, gas-electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids. 

Gas-Only Cars

1. Mitsubishi Mirage: 36/43/39 city/highway/combined mpg
2. Hyundai Elantra: 33/43/37 mpg
3. Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio: 33/41/36 mpg
4. Honda Civic: 32/42/36 mpg
5. Toyota Corolla Hatchback: 32/41/35 mpg 

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage

All Mirage and Mirage G4 variants are powered by the same 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 78 horsepower and 74 pounds-feet of torque. The base model, called ES, comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, which can be swapped for a continuously variable automatic transmission for an extra $1,300. The variant with the highest mileage is the CVT-equipped Mirage hatchback (36/43/39 mpg city/highway/combined); the G4 sedan is rated slightly lower. Models with the five-speed are rated much lower. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Gas-powered versions of the Elantra compact sedan see the highest fuel economy rating from the base powertrain: The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 147 hp and runs on a more-efficient Atkinson cycle for 2021. It pairs with a CVT for an EPA rating of 33/43/37 mpg on the Elantra’s base trim level, called SE. Unfortunately, the sedan’s two higher trim levels with the base engine — the SEL and Limited — drop to 31/41/35 mpg.

2021 Hyundai Accent, 2021 Kia Rio

These subcompact siblings come from affiliated automakers Hyundai and Kia, and they use the same powertrain: a 120-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that pairs with a CVT automatic (the Accent also offers a six-speed manual). Models with the CVT have the highest fuel economy in the lineup (33/41/36 mpg), though the manual Accent’s 29/39/33 mpg is reasonably close behind. 

2021 Honda Civic

Sedan versions of the Honda Civic use a standard 158-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or an optional 174-hp, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Hatchback models come only with the 1.5-liter engine. (The Civic coupe, including the higher-performance Si, has been discontinued.) Both the sedan and hatchback have a standard continuously variable automatic transmission, but the hatchback also has an available six-speed manual. 

The performance-oriented Civic Type R comes only as a four-seat hatchback and is powered by a 306-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered.

The Civic sedan with the 1.5-liter turbo and CVT is the most fuel efficient version with an EPA rating of 32/42/36 mpg for two mid-grade trim levels, called EX and EX-L; the sedan’s range-topping trim, called Touring, has the same engine but falls to 30/38/33 mpg. (Lower ratings accompany the sedan’s lesser trim levels, which have the 2.0-liter engine, as well as all Civic hatchbacks. EPA numbers for those cars land between 32 and 34 mpg combined, depending on specifics; the Type R hatchback is rated considerably worse, at 25 mpg combined.)

2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

The Corolla Hatchback gets power from a 168-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that works with a six-speed manual or a CVT. The Corolla Hatchback’s base trim level, called the SE, gets the best fuel economy (32/41/35 mpg) when equipped with the CVT. A higher trim level, the XSE, falls to 33 mpg combined, while the stick-shift-equipped Corolla Hatchback lands at 31 mpg combined. The Corolla sedan offers the 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a smaller, 1.8-liter four-cylinder. Depending on specifics, EPA combined ratings for the Corolla sedan range from 31 to 34 mpg. 

Hybrids

1. Hyundai Ioniq: 58/60/59 mpg
2. Toyota Prius: 58/53/56 mpg
3. Hyundai Elantra Hybrid: 53/56/54 mpg
4. Honda Insight: 55/49/52 mpg
5. Toyota Corolla Hybrid: 53/52/52 mpg

2021 Hyundai Ioniq

The Ioniq Hybrid hatchback pairs a 43-hp (32-kilowatt) electric motor and a 1.56-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion-polymer battery with a 104-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. In its highest-efficient trim, called Blue, the Ioniq is EPA-rated at 58/60/59 mpg (non-Blue versions get 54/56/55 mpg). The Ioniq Hybrid joins plug-in and all-electric versions in the Ioniq lineup. 

2021 Toyota Prius

The hatchback Prius’ sole powertrain pairs a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with electric-motor power for 121 hp. In the highest-efficient trim, called Eco, it’s rated 58/53/56 mpg. (Non-Eco trims are rated 54/50/52 mpg.) All-wheel-drive versions are rated lower, at 51/47/49 mpg. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

The hybrid version of Hyundai’s compact sedan uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine with an electric motor and 32-kW lithium-ion battery for a combined 139 hp; it works with a dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, and it’s front-drive only. In the Elantra’s most-efficient trim, called Blue, the sedan is EPA-rated 53/56/54 mpg. (The non-Blue Elantra is rated 49/52/50 mpg.)

2021 Honda Insight

The Honda Insight sedan is based on the Honda Civic and pairs a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with electric assist for a combined 151 hp. In the Insight’s two lower  trims, LX and EX, it’s EPA-rated at 55/49/52 mpg; in the top trim, Touring, those numbers drop slightly, to 51/45/48 mpg. 

2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

The Corolla Hybrid borrows the Toyota Prius’ powertrain: a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine that pairs with two electric motors for 121 hp. Available only as a sedan, the Corolla Hybrid is EPA-rated 53/52/52 mpg. 

Plug-In Hybrids

1. Toyota Prius Prime: 133 mpg-equivalent
2. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid: 119 mpg-e
3. Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: 110 mpg-e
4. Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid: 105 mpg-e
5. BMW i3: 100 miles per gallon-e 

2021 Toyota Prius Prime

The plug-in version of Toyota’s popular hybrid hatchback uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that works with an electric motor, a rechargeable battery pack you can plug in and a CVT-style automatic transmission. On a full charge, the Prius Prime has 25 miles of electric-only range and, once its battery is depleted, a 54 mpg combined rating. That’s good for a total range of 640 miles, according to the EPA, and a 133 mpg-equivalent rating. 

The EPA explains the mpg-e measurement as representing the number of miles the vehicle can go using a quantity of fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.

2021 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid

The plug-in hybrid version of the Ioniq hatchback uses the regular hybrid model’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine but adds a larger battery pack, which is also rechargeable via a wall outlet. The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid can travel 29 miles on electric-only power and,  when the battery is depleted, gets a 52 mpg combined rating. That’s good for a total combined range of 620 miles and an EPA rating of 119 mpg-e.  

2021 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

Honda’s plug-in hybrid drivetrain features a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric drive motor for a total of 212 hp. It has an EPA rating of 110 mpg-e. It’s still an efficient performer when its battery pack has been depleted, too, with EPA- estimated mileage of 42 mpg combined. Also, it can travel up to 47 miles on electric power alone and has an estimated driving range of 340 miles, according to the EPA.  

2021 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

The Niro PHEV is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a 60-hp electric motor for a total system rating of 139 hp and 195 pounds-feet of torque. It has an EPA rating of 105 mpg-e. Once its battery is depleted, the Niro plug-in has an estimated rating of 46 mpg combined. The EPA also estimates it has 26 miles of electric-only range and a total range of 560 miles

2021 BMW i3

The BMW i3 can be had with an available tiny range-extending gasoline engine, making it either an all-electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid. As a plug-in, it has an EPA-estimated 100 mpg-e rating. The EPA estimates that it can also travel 126 miles on electric-only power and gets an estimated 31 mpg combined thereafter (albeit with premium fuel recommended), with a total range of 200 miles. 

But just how efficient is efficient? After all, cars have been cracking the 30-mpg mark for years now. Luckily for us, the EPA publishes gas mileage estimates for every new car that’s on sale today, so we rounded up every subcompact and compact car that can get at least 35 miles to the gallon on the EPA’s combined cycle. For the sake of clarity, here’s how the agency defines combined fuel economy: “[Combined mpg] is a weighted average of city and highway mpg values that is calculated by weighting the city value by 55 percent and the highway value by 45 percent.”

With that out of the way, here are the most economical small cars you can buy today, ranked from least to most fuel efficient on the EPA’s combined cycle.

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