Fuel-Efficient Cars — Unplugged
Electric cars and plug-in hybrids dominate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel-economy ratings. Although these are the most fuel-efficient cars, not all drivers have access to plug in a vehicle every night. Fear not, plug-less people — there are still plenty of fuel-efficient cars on the market, with more non-plug hybrid models being offered every year. Take a look at the most fuel-efficient cars available today that don’t require a power outlet, all with EPA ratings at 35 mpg combined or higher. Vehicles are listed and ranked by combined fuel economy, then city fuel economy, as reported by the U.S. EPA.
26. 2021 Kia Forte FE
Starting MSRP: $17,890
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 31 / 41 / 35
Completely redesigned in 2019 with updated features and a fresh new look, the Kia Forte is powered by a 2.0-liter 147-horsepower engine. The base-level Forte FE earns an EPA rating of 31 mpg combined when equipped with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, and it increases to 35 mpg combined with the optional intelligent Continuously Variable Transmission. Standard equipment on this small sedan includes air-conditioning, an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera with dynamic parking guide, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning and driver attention warning.
25. 2021 Nissan Versa
Starting MSRP: $14,930
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 32 / 40 / 35
The Nissan Versa had been the lowest priced car in America for a number of years, but for 2020 the Japanese brand gave up that title with the introduction of an all-new Versa. The 2020 Nissan Versa received new styling, a premium interior, the latest high-tech safety features and a much-improved ride. The base-level Versa S is equipped surprisingly well for the price, with features that include Zero Gravity front seats, pushbutton start, a 7.0-inch color touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity and streaming, a rearview monitor and 15-inch steel wheels. Also standard is Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking, high-beam headlight assist, rear automatic braking and lane departure warning.
24. 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
Starting MSRP: $20,565
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 32 / 41 / 35
Toyota’s sporty Corolla Hatchback was added to the Corolla lineup for 2019, designed for buyers who need a practical, efficient vehicle but also want something that is sporty and fun. Corolla Hatchback replaced the Corolla iM — the model originally sold as the Scion iM before the youth-oriented brand merged into the Toyota mix. Corolla Hatchback is powered by a 2.0-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine producing 168 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, and has an EPA rating of 35 mpg combined when equipped with Toyota’s Dynamic Shift CVT. Corolla Hatch is also offered with a 6-speed manual transmission — which may mean more fun for some — although fuel economy drops slightly to 28 mpg city / 37 mpg highway / 31 mpg combined.
23. 2021 Honda Civic
Starting MSRP: $21,250
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 32 / 42 / 36
The 10th generation of this popular car debuted early in 2017 featuring fresh styling, improved aerodynamics, new vehicle architecture, a more spacious interior and two new engines. For 2019 Honda gave the Civic a light refresh and added more content. The fuel economy leaders are the Civic Sedan EX and EX-L trims, powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder producing 174 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque combined with a CVT to achieve 32 mpg city / 42 mpg highway / 36 mpg combined. The Civic EX starts at $23,800 and the EX-L at $25,000. The entry Civic Coupe LX is rated at 30 mpg city / 38 mpg highway / 33 mpg highway. Every LX has automatic climate control, a 160-watt audio system, a 5.0-inch LCD display screen and a rearview camera. In November 2020 Honda premiered the 2022 Civic Prototype on Twitch; the 2022 Civic is scheduled to arrive spring 2021.
21. 2021 Hyundai Accent (tie)
Starting MSRP: $15,395
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 33 / 41 / 36
The fifth generation of the Hyundai’s entry-level model, the current Accent debuted for 2018 with revised styling and familiar cascading grille. For 2020 Accent received a new Smartstream G1.6 Dual Port Injection engine producing 120 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque, combined with a new Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission. The EPA fuel economy rating improved to 33 mpg city / 41 mpg highway / 36 mpg combined with the optional transmission, up from 29 mpg city / 39 mpg highway / 33 mpg combined with the standard 6-speed manual transmission.
21. 2021 Kia Rio (tie)
Starting MSRP: $16,050
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 33 / 41 / 36
The least expensive car in the Kia lineup, Rio receives refreshed exterior styling for 2021 for a sportier look, including new front bumper, grille and rear bumper treatments. Inside, Rio adds a larger 8-inch touchscreen display with a rear camera and standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for all trim levels. For 2020 the Rio received a new Gamma 2 1.6-liter engine with multi-port injection producing 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque, combined with a new Intelligent Variable Transmission replacing the previous model’s 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy rating for 2020 increased to 36 mpg combined, up from 28 mpg city / 37 mpg highway / 32 mpg combined for 2019. A new Technology Package includes LED headlights, automatic temperature control, 15-inch alloy wheels, a smart key with pushbutton start and new or enhanced Drive Wise features.
20. 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $38,410
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 36 / 35 / 36
The fourth-generation Toyota Highlander debuted as a 2020 model with new exterior styling, a more refined interior and a more fuel-efficient hybrid. The Highlander Hybrid is powered by the new-generation Toyota Hybrid System that combines a high-efficiency 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a total output of 243 horsepower in a system that’s more compact and more efficient than before. For the first time the Highlander Hybrid is offered in front-wheel drive, achieving an EPA rating of 36 mpg combined — a 24 percent increase over the previous-generation Highlander Hybrid. The 2021 Highlander Hybrid AWD has a rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels when all-wheel drive is needed. The EPA rating for the Highlander Hybrid AWD is nearly as good at 35 mpg city / 35 mpg highway / 35 mpg combined.
19. 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $34,460
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 36 / 36 / 36
The Toyota Sienna is all new for 2021 with fresh styling, a new chassis and a range of new features. This fourth-generation Sienna is available exclusively with a hybrid powertrain — the first time Toyota has offered the minivan as a hybrid. The Sienna has a sleeker look with narrow headlights that wrap around the front corners of the vehicle, as well as more sculpted lines along the side and rear of the vehicle. At the rear of the all-new Sienna sit LED taillights, an integrated spoiler and the SIENNA name spelled out in a large font. The van’s Toyota badges have blue insets indicating the hybrid powertrain. The 2021 Sienna gets powered by Toyota Hybrid System II that teams a high-efficiency 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a total output of 243 horsepower; it achieves an EPA combined rating of 36 mpg. Since Sienna does not have a plug-in hybrid system, pure EV mode will only be available for short distances at low speeds.
18. 2021 Hyundai Elantra
Starting MSRP: $19,650
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 33 / 43 / 37
All new for 2021, Hyundai’s compact Elantra has a new exterior design similar to the 2020 Sonata for a more premium look, as well as a high-tech interior with more room. (The new Elantra recently won 2021 North American Car of the Year.) Powered by a 2.0-liter engine producing 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque combined with Hyundai’s Intelligent Variable Transmission, the 2021 Elantra receives an EPA rating of 37 mpg combined. Elantra will also be offered as a hybrid for the first time, sporting a 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle engine teamed with an electric motor for a combined 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid powertrain gets teamed with a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission that should offer a better driving experience. Hyundai expects Elantra Hybrid to achieve 50 mpg combined when it receives EPA certification.
17. 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $33,590
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 39 / 35 / 37
Kia’s popular Sorento gets redesigned for 2021, and for the first time the crossover is offered with a hybrid powertrain that combines a turbocharged 1.6-liter gas engine with a 44-kW electric motor for a combined system output of 227 horsepower. Sorento Hybrid is only available as a FWD model with a 1.5 kWh battery — a combo that earns a U.S. EPA fuel-economy rating of 37 mpg combined. Next year Kia will add a Sorento Plug-In Hybrid, combining a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine with a 66.9-kW electric motor for a combined system output of 261 horsepower; it also has AWD as well as a 13.8 kWh battery for an estimated electric-only range of 30 miles.
16. 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $30,560
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 40 / 35 / 38
Honda’s best-selling model, the CR-V crossover was updated for 2020 and for the first time offered as a hybrid — the very first electrified SUV from the Japan-based automaker. The 2020 CR-V received updated front and rear styling, redesigned wheels and the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety features. Similar to the Honda Accord Hybrid, the CR-V Hybrid uses a 2-motor hybrid powertrain that teams two electric motors with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine for a combined output of 212 horsepower, making it the most powerful model in the CR-V lineup. The 2020 CR-V Hybrid was also the first application of this innovative hybrid powertrain in an all-wheel-drive vehicle — directing power to the rear wheels when needed.
15. 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage
Starting MSRP: $14,295
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 36 / 43 / 39
Mitsubishi’s entry subcompact Mirage hatchback and Mirage G4 sedan get updates for 2021 that include revised exterior styling and interior refinements; the hatchback and sedan remain the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid vehicles sold in America. Mirage and Mirage G4 receive a bold Dynamic Shield grille design, new headlights, a new front bumper design, a new rear bumper, a new rear valance and L-shaped LED rear combination lights. Inside, Mirage features a standard 7-inch Smartphone Link Display Audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Mirage is powered by a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine that produces 78 horsepower and earns an EPA fuel economy rating of 39 mpg combined. Mirage G4 achieves EPA ratings of 35 mpg city / 41 mpg highway / 37 mpg combined with an optional CVT transmission.
14. 2021 Toyota Venza AWD
Starting MSRP: $32,470
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 40 / 37 / 39
The Venza crossover returns to the Toyota lineup for 2021, offered exclusively as a hybrid with standard all-wheel drive. Production of the original Venza began in 2015 and the 2021 model introduces a new front-end look to the Toyota lineup with sleek headlights that flow from the upper grille into the sculpted hood. Shiny blue Toyota badges telegraph that Venza is now a hybrid. The new Venza is powered exclusively by a new-generation Toyota Hybrid System that teams a high-efficiency 2.5-liter gas engine with three electric motors. Total output is rated at 219 horsepower and achieves an EPA rating of 39 mpg combined. Three driving modes are offered: Normal, Eco and Sport. There is also an EV mode that allows electric-only driving over short distances. Electronic on-demand all-wheel drive uses a separate rear-mounted electric motor to deliver power to the rear wheels as needed.
13. 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD
Starting MSRP: $28,650
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 41 / 38 / 40
The Toyota RAV4 was redesigned for 2019 and finished both 2019 and 2020 as the best-selling SUV in America. One of the original compact crossovers on the American market, the RAV4 Hybrid joined the lineup in 2016 and the latest version boasts bold styling, improved capability, better performance and an array of new safety and convenience features. The next-generation Toyota Hybrid System II in the RAV4 HV is more compact, more efficient and quieter than the previous version, working together with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Dynamic Force gasoline engine. Power is delivered to the front wheels through a continuously-variable transmission and the new e-AWD system adds an independent electric motor to proactively deliver torque to the rear wheels depending on conditions.
12. 2021 Ford Escape SE Sport Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $28,265
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 44 / 37 / 41
The Escape crossover is Ford’s third-best-selling model behind the F-Series and the Explorer. Escape was all-new for 2020 with fresh styling, new features and fuel-efficient engine options. Ford has the distinction of being the first manufacturer to offer a hybrid SUV via the 2005 Escape Hybrid, and the 2020 Escape SE Sport Hybrid marked the return of a hybrid Escape, as well as the addition of a plug-in hybrid variant. The Escape Hybrid powertrain features a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine teamed with an electric motor to produce a total of 198 horsepower, delivered through an electronic CVT. The 2021 Escape Hybrid FWD is rated at 44 mpg city / 37 mpg highway / 41 mpg combined, and the AWD version drops slightly to 43 mpg city / 37 mpg highway / 40 mpg combined.
11. 2021 Lexus UX 250h
Starting MSRP: $35,100
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 43 / 41 / 42
For the 2019 model year, Lexus added the UX to the growing compact luxury crossover market, including the UX 250h AWD hybrid. The UX is the first Lexus vehicle to use the brand’s Global Architecture — Compact platform, providing the new crossover with a rigid structure and low center of gravity designed to deliver both agile handling and improved ride comfort. The exterior styling is similar to the larger NX and RX models but more aggressive, with a large spindle grille that dominates the front view. The UX 250h is powered by a fourth-generation hybrid system with a total output of 181 horsepower. The hybrid uses the Lexus E-Four all-wheel-drive system that adds another electric motor at the rear axle.
9. 2021 Lexus ES 300h (tie)
Starting MSRP: $41,910
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 43 / 44 / 44
Lexus updated the ES Hybrid for 2019 with a fresh exterior design with a larger spindle grille, updated features, a lower base price and improved fuel efficiency. The latest generation ES 300h is rated at 44 mpg on the highway and 44 mpg combined, making it the most fuel-efficient luxury vehicle on the market without a plug. This improved fuel economy is possible thanks to Toyota’s latest Hybrid Drive System that uses an ultra-efficient Atkinson Cycle 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine teamed with a lighter and more compact electric motor that combine to produce a total of 215 horsepower.
9. 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid (tie)
Starting MSRP: $37,000
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 43 / 44 / 44
The Avalon was all new for the 2019 model year — built on a completely new platform, it features new looks inside and out as well as plenty of new convenience and safety features. Toyota equips the Avalon Hybrid with its next-generation hybrid powertrain, which combines a 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine with two electric motor/generators for a total system output of 215 horsepower. One electric motor generator acts as the engine starter and charges the battery, while the second electric motor generator drives the front wheels and captures energy through regeneration during braking.
8. 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $26,570
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 48 / 48 / 48
The 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid receives refreshed styling including a wider, restyled grille; LED headlights for EX and higher trim levels; and new alloy wheel designs. Inside, Accord Hybrid features an 8-inch display audio touchscreen infotainment system standard, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The Accord Hybrid benefits from updates to the Honda 2-motor hybrid system for more direct, immediate throttle response and more natural acceleration. The Accord Hybrid uses the third generation of Honda’s innovative 2-motor powertrain, featuring a 2.0-liter DOHC i-VTEC Atkinson Cycle inline-4 engine and an electric propulsion motor for a total output of 212 horsepower and 232 lb-ft of torque. The Accord Hybrid can operate in three different modes: EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive. In EV Drive the Accord Hybrid runs in electric-only mode at lower speeds and medium- to high-speed cruising.
7. 2021 Kia Niro FE
Starting MSRP: $24,590
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 53 / 48 / 50
The Niro is Kia’s first purpose-built hybrid model, meaning that Kia doesn’t build a non-electrified version of this small crossover. Introduced as a 2017 model, the Niro offers a spacious and useful interior that comes well equipped, even in the base-level FE. For 2020 Niro received a mid-cycle refresh with new front fascia, new diamond-pattern grille, updated projector headlights, dual chevron-shaped LED DRLs, new fog lights, new rear fascia, updated rear LED combination lights and new alloy wheel designs. Power comes from a 1.6-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine — designed specifically for hybrid use — teamed with a permanent magnet electric motor with total system output of 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.
6. 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Blue
Starting MSRP: $27,750
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 50 / 54 / 52
The Hyundai Sonata was redesigned for 2020, and the Sonata Hybrid is all new as well with 686 miles of range and an EPA-estimated 52 mpg combined fuel economy for the Sonata Hybrid Blue trim. The 2020 Sonata Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter engine producing 150 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque combined with a 39 kW electric motor producing 51 horsepower for a total system output of 192 horsepower. The Sonata Hybrid Blue is the most fuel-efficient version of the Sonata; other 2021 Sonata Hybrid trim levels are rated at 45 mpg city / 51 mpg highway / 47 mpg combined.
5. 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
Starting MSRP: $27,270
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 51 / 53 / 52
The Toyota Camry continued to be the best-selling passenger car in America for 2020 following a redesign for the 2018 model year with a more expressive exterior design. The Camry Hybrid is powered by a new generation Toyota Hybrid system that combines a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with a permanent-magnet electric motor for a combined output of 208 horsepower. The Camry Hybrid LE uses a lithium-ion battery back and achieves an EPA rating of 52 mpg combined — a 30 percent increase over the previous model. The Camry Hybrid XLE / SE are equipped with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and rated at 44 mpg city / 47 mpg highway / 46 mpg combined — a 21 percent increase for combined mpg. For 2021 Camry Hybrid adds the XSE trim with a redesigned front fascia, gloss-black 19-inch wheels, a floating multimedia screen and the debut of Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+.
4. 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $23,600
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 53 / 52 / 52
The Toyota Corolla sedan was redesigned for 2020, and for the first time ever a Corolla Hybrid joined the lineup in the U.S. market. The Corolla Hybrid adopts the latest Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system from the new-generation Prius, combining a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine with two motor/generators and an electronically controlled planetary continuously variable transmission. The nickel-metal hydride battery is smaller and lighter because of new technology called hyper-prime nickel, which boosts battery performance in a smaller package, allowing the unit to be placed under the rear seat to avoid taking up trunk space. The Corolla Hybrid also has EV mode, which allows it to be operated on pure electric power for short distances.
3. 2021 Honda Insight
Starting MSRP: $22,930
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 55 / 49 / 52
The 2019 Honda Insight was the third Honda model to use the Insight name, beginning with the 2000 Insight hybrid, the first hybrid car ever sold in America, followed by the 2010 Insight that combined the aerodynamic profile of the original Insight with the front-end design of the hydrogen powered FCX Clarity. The 2020 Insight is a dedicated hybrid model positioned between the Civic and the Accord, powered by the third generation of Honda’s 2-motor hybrid system that combines a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine with a powerful 96 kW electric drive motor and a smaller generator motor to produce electricity. Total system output is 151 horsepower and the electric propulsion motor produces 129 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque. The Honda Insight Touring is rated at 51 mpg city / 45 mpg highway / 48 mpg combined
2. 2021 Toyota Prius L Eco
Starting MSRP: $24,525
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 58 / 53 / 56
The fourth-generation Toyota Prius debuted for the 2016 model year, including the Prius Eco with an EPA combined fuel economy rating of 56 mpg that unseated the 2000 Honda Insight at that time as the most fuel-efficient non-plug-in vehicle. The latest version of Toyota’s first hybrid vehicle is powered by a Hybrid Synergy Drive that combines a 1.8-liter gasoline engine with two electric motor/generators and an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission. The fourth-generation Prius uses smaller, lighter hybrid components and a lithium-ion battery pack for 2WD trims. Prius L Eco receives additional weight savings and is the most fuel-efficient version of the model line, with other Prius Hybrid 2WD trim levels rated at 54 mpg city / 50 mpg highway / 52 mpg combined. For 2019 Toyota added the available AWD-e system with a second electric motor driving the rear wheels for AWD capability and EPA ratings of 52 mpg city / 48 mpg highway / 50 mpg combined.
1. 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Blue
Starting MSRP: $23,200
MPG (city / hwy / combined): 58 / 60 / 59
Hyundai introduced its new family of electrified vehicles called Ioniq in 2017 with the Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq EV, followed by the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid in 2018. With the latest in safety technology and an impressive list of standard features, the Ioniq offers more than simply great fuel economy. That said, Hyundai Ioniq Blue is the most fuel-efficient non-plug-in vehicle in America. The Ioniq’s 1.6-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder engine is teamed with a 32-kW electric motor, generating a total of 139 horsepower. For 2020 Ioniq Hybrid received exterior updates including a mesh grille; new front and rear bumpers; LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights; new wheels and new side sill moldings. Inside, the 2020 Ioniq added a new center LCD screen, available 10.25-inch touchscreen, a new instrument panel and touchscreen climate control.