12 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars for 2021

Looking to save a little money never goes out of style, even if it’s with cars and fuel efficiency. Fuel economy is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new car. Some vehicles are much better at saving you fuel money than others. Factoring the costs of fuel, along with things like maintenance and repair, can give you a better idea of the actual long-term expense of owning the car instead of only basing your decision on the sticker price.

Many cars sold today offer impressive fuel economy, especially in contrast to what you may be trading in. Here’s a look at some of 2021’s most fuel efficient cars that have been tested trusted and reputable auto testing bodies such as Cars.com, Consumer Reports, US News, among other, who receive ratings based on either feature data or test drive experiences.

Their fuel-economy numbers are derived from a precision flow meter and are rounded to the nearest mile per gallon. The overall mileage results are calculated based on equal portions of city and highway driving.

2020 Honda Civic Sedan

2020 Honda Civic Sedan. Photo: Carscoops
MPG City: 25-32
MPG Highway: 35-42
36 mpg combined | $21,250 | Ratings: 7.9/10
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If you’re even half-heartedly into performance cars, you’ve spent the last few years inundated with praise for the Honda Civic Type R—and every bit of it is well deserved. Happily, for those who don’t have nearly S40,000 to drop on a fun Honda, the current Civic platform, is so inherently good that even the cheapest Civic you can buy is a genuinely fun way to get around. In fact, the Civic Sport was so good it won an Automobile All-Stars award in 2017, with the evaluators highlighting its steering feel, handling, and punchy 180-hp turbo 1.5-liter.

2020 Toyota Prius

2020 Toyota Prius. Photo: WorldToyota
MPG City: 52–58
MPG Highway: 48–53  
56 mpg combined | $24,525 | Ratings: 7.9/10
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In base trim, Toyota’s hybrid hatchback is EPA rated 58/53/56 mpg. Toyota’s energy saver continues to top car reviewers’ lists as one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market. Although it’s a compact car, critics still give it credit for its large cargo bay, incredible features that come standard and, of course, its fuel economy.

Power comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that pairs with electric motors. Front-drive models use a lithium-ion pack; AWD versions use a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. For only a small loss in economy, the Prius adds a must-have feature for Snowbelt drivers.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Photo: CNET
MPG City: 45-50
MPG Highway: 51-54
47-52 mpg combined | $18,456 — $39,100 | Ratings: 8.7/10
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This mid-size sedan uses a 2.0-liter direct-injection four-cylinder fuel engine mated to an electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. Its EPA rated at 50/54/52 mpg.

For 2021, Hyundai’s Sonata is rich on creature comforts, with a large interior, and a cabin that has an abundance of user-friendly controls. Great standard features and several options like automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning make this car feel like a lot of sophistication for the price. It also doesn’t demand frequent stops at the fuel pump.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid. Photo: Toyota
Interior. Photo: Toyota
Photo: Toyota
MPG City: 44–51
MPG Highway: 47–53
52 mpg combined | $28,430 | Ratings: 8.7/10
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The Camry has been a popular car since it rolled out in the late 1980s, thanks largely to its reliability. The Camry looks a bit more stylish and sporty but without losing the spaciousness that creates that renowned Camry comfort. While you don’t tend to think of mid-size sedans as being fuel efficient, this hybrid delivers with surprising efficiency.

2020 Kia Niro

2020 Kia Niro. Photo: Martin Swanty
MPG: 43-49
43-49 mpg combined | $22,930 | Ratings: 7.4/10
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Kia’s subcompact Niro is a compelling alternative to your traditional hybrid hatchback. The company nailed it when it decided to make a fuel-efficient subcompact SUV. This model wins big points on looks and comfort. It also has a surprising amount of room for passengers and cargo, and still manages to control its need for fuel.

2020 Honda Insight

2020 Honda Insight. Photo: Carscoops
Photo: Atlantic Honda
MPG City: 55
MPG Highway: 49
52 mpg combined | $22,930 | Ratings: 8.0/10
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Honda’s hybrid hatchback gets power from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a lithium-ion battery pack.

Despite its compact car designation, it provides praiseworthy cargo capacity and decent rear-seat accommodations. The Insight shines when it comes to fuel economy, crash test performance, and build quality. It also delivers sufficient acceleration, a smooth ride, and composed handling. The Insight doesn’t offer a long list of standard niceties, though it does include a full suite of advanced active safety technologies.

It’s EPA rated at 55/49/52 mpg and starts at $22,930. Driving one of Honda’s best hybrids ever will make you forget all about the Prius.

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2020. Photo: Autoblog
MPG City: 53
MPG Highway: 52
52 mpg combined | $23,100 | Ratings: 8.1/10
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It’s all the best bits of the Prius shaped like the world’s best-selling car. Toyota’s compact hybrid sedan uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder fuel engine that pairs with two electric motors; it has an EPA rating of 53/52/52 mpg.

The Toyota Corolla Hybrid made its debut as an all-new vehicle for the 2020 model year. It earns terrific crash test scores and a perfect predicted reliability rating. The Corolla Hybrid features a comfortable ride, a nice cabin, and respectable passenger space, but competing hybrid vehicles offer more room for cargo. While it delivers adequate power for city driving, its engine is loud under hard acceleration and it struggles at highway speeds.

The 2020 Corolla Hybrid comes standard with an 8-inch touch screen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, a Scout GPS Link navigation system, and a plentiful array of advanced driver assistance systems.

Hyundai Ioniq

2020 Hyundai Ioniq. Photo: Motor Authority
MPG: 52-58
58 mpg combined | $23,200 | Ratings: 8.0/10
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Hyundai’s hybrid hatchback is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder and a lithium-polymer battery pack. The Blue trim level gets the best mileage; it’s EPA rated at 57/59/58 city/highway/combined mpg. Other trim levels of the Ioniq hybrid get slightly lower fuel economy.

Created as a direct competitor to the Prius, this Hyundai is making a strong showing as one of the higher-mpg cars you can drive home. You’ll notice some immediate similarities between the two, both in design and in safety scores. It also competes well with the Prius’ fuel efficiency and is priced a few thousand dollars lower.

2020 Honda Accord Sedan

2020 Honda Accord Sedan. Photo: Edmunds
MPG City: 30
MPG Highway: 38
48 mpg combined | $24,970 | Ratings: 8.4/10
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Honda took a big gamble with its wholesale overhaul of the popular Accord midsized sedan. The redesign includes the addition of new turbocharged engines, an available hybrid powertrain, comprehensive changes to the control layout, and standard crash-avoidance features, all wrapped in an attractive, coupe-like body. Some of the Accord’s goodness stems from its 192-hp, 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

2020 Lexus ES Hybrid

2020 Lexus ES Hybrid. Photo: Lexus of Memphis
Interior. Photo: Lexus
Interior of Lexus ES. Photo: Lexus
44 mpg combined | $41,910 | Ratings: 8.2/10
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Luxury meets value. The 2020 Lexus ES Hybrid is the only luxury car on this list of the most fuel-efficient cars. This is because luxury hybrid vehicles tend to favor performance over fuel-efficiency. Nonetheless, despite being fuel-efficient, the ES Hybrid’s powertrain delivers peppy off-the-line acceleration and more than enough power for most driving situations. Moreover, this luxury midsize car provides a cushioned ride and composed handling. Rounding out the ES Hybrid’s strengths are its posh cabin, spacious seats, large trunk, and first-rate safety and predicted reliability ratings.

The 2020 ES Hybrid comes standard with synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, a moonroof, an 8-inch display, smartphone app integration, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and a wealth of advanced driver assistance aids.

2021 Nissan Sentra

2021 Nissan Sentra. Photo: Nissan
MPG City: 29
MPG Highway: 39
43-49 mpg combined | $19,410 | Ratings: 7.0/10
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The 2021 Nissan Sentra looks seriously snazzy for a compact car that starts at just around $20,000. The second-smallest sedan in the Nissan lineup also matches its attractive outward appearance with a handsome interior. This makes it a more mature alternative to the youthful designs of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Unfortunately, the Sentra’s superficial qualities don’t translate into fun behind the wheel. The Nissan Sentra has plenty of safety features and a smooth ride, but that’s not enough to offset its sleepy performance, tight rear seats, and low predicted reliability rating. We’re also not impressed with the Sentra’s lethargic four-cylinder engine or the choppy ride rendered by the suspension in the sportiest SR model. Still, the 2021 Sentra will dutifully serve shoppers who prioritize interior comfort, safety features, and style.

2020 Kia Optima Hybrid

2020 Kia Optima Hybrid. Photo: CarBuzz
42 mpg combined | $29,310 | Ratings: 7.8/10
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The 2020 Kia Optima Hybrid will save you fuel money over most nonhybrid cars, but it’s not that efficient for a hybrid. It also receives a mediocre overall U.S. News score due to its low predicted reliability rating and subpar cargo space. However, the Optima Hybrid features an upmarket cabin, comfortable seats in both rows, and a history of positive crash test results.

The Optima Hybrid comes standard with leather upholstery, heated front seats, an intuitive 8-inch touch-screen interface, smartphone connectivity, wireless device charging, and a full suite of advanced driver assistance systems.

Kia also offers the Optima in a plug-in hybrid configuration. According to the EPA, it will save you about $100 per year over the conventional hybrid.

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