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What is the most fuel efficient car?

 
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For a couple of years I drove a Ford F-150. There are a few reasons for this, the primary one being that I got the truck for $1 and probably couldn't sell it for much more than $1000 so it was worth just owning as a vehicle. Secondly, I expect to build my own house and start my own farm in the near future, something which it can be very helpful to have a truck for.

After driving the truck around as a commuter vehicle for a while I began to feel icky about the 15 L/100km (~15 mpg) I was burning. If I was hauling big loads all the time I probably would have been fine with it, but unfortunately it was usually just me, alone in an empty truck. My conscious ate at me for a while and finally I decided to do something about it and now I drive a 2012 Chevy Volt with the truck in reserve for when I actually need to haul something. Throughout the current 100,000 km of distance on the Volt, it has used around 3 L/100km (~78 mpg), five times better than the truck! I feel so much better knowing how much fuel I've saved over the past couple of years. I wish I could have saved even more.

I am wondering, what is the most fuel efficient car on the road today that still burns gas?

Please leave out mention of all-electric cars as that is another discussion.
 
pollinator
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For me, I have always done well with a Ford Focus. Please do not laugh. They get gas mileage in the low 40's range per mile, but of the 3 I have had, all have pushed beyond 250,000 miles. That is a really good return on investment. Considering getting cheap after-market parts, mechanic familiarity, and etc...I feel they have more merit then some people give them credit for. In my opinion, they rank high because they do a lot of things well.

Sadly, I can not get by with ONLY a Ford Focus because...well...I like sex! That netted me 4 children, and I just cannot get all of us into the car and go places.

So we have a Ford Explorer. Believe it or not, I am not brand loyal, I just happen to get one, and like it. Its not fuel efficient, and its parts are expensive...even after-market ones, BUT it serves triple duty. It is a kid hauling grocery getter yes, but it also acts as a half-pickup truck. Whatever cannot fit in its folded down seats, gets put in the trailer that it can pull. With its 4x4 capability, we stomp all over this farm! I do as much traveling as I can in the Focus, but when I need to get things, never once have I wished I had a pickup. Its just an all-around versatile rig.

Coupled together, I feel we get the most out of our vehicles.

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pollinator
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Well, it depends.  I'm currently getting about 200 miles per gallon with my Chevy Volt, but that is because most of my trips are within it's 50-70 mile range on batteries.  However, because of the way it works, once the batteries are depleted and it fires up the on-board generator, it get's about 43 mpg. We've had it for 6 months now, drove it about 5300 miles and have used just over 25 gallons of gas so far.  We fill up the 8 gallon tank every other month or so.  

If most of your driving is for distances over 200 miles, then a Toyota Prius or one of the older 3cyl Hondas might get better 'gas' mileage.  

I make my own electricity(and the equipment is all paid for) so I don't usually bother calculating it's cost.
 
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The answer partly depends on where you're driving, as some cars get really good mileage in city and others on highway. For those wishing to build their own, there is the 100+mpg kit car: http://www.kineticvehicles.com/MAX.html I recall the creator saying it cost about $10K in parts plus time.
 
pollinator
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Shawn Klassen-Koop wrote:For a couple of years I drove a Ford F-150. There are a few reasons for this, the primary one being that I got the truck for $1 and probably couldn't sell it for much more than $1000 so it was worth just owning as a vehicle. Secondly, I expect to build my own house and start my own farm in the near future, something which it can be very helpful to have a truck for.

After driving the truck around as a commuter vehicle for a while I began to feel icky about the 15 L/100km (~15 mpg) I was burning. If I was hauling big loads all the time I probably would have been fine with it, but unfortunately it was usually just me, alone in an empty truck. My conscious ate at me for a while and finally I decided to do something about it and now I drive a 2012 Chevy Volt with the truck in reserve for when I actually need to haul something. Throughout the current 100,000 km of distance on the Volt, it has used around 3 L/100km (~78 mpg), five times better than the truck! I feel so much better knowing how much fuel I've saved over the past couple of years. I wish I could have saved even more.

I am wondering, what is the most fuel efficient car on the road today that still burns gas?

Please leave out mention of all-electric cars as that is another discussion.



Same situation here with a 3/4 ton 4x4 truck.

Wish to add a fuel efficient daily driver to my "equipment list".

Look forward to reading this thread.

Current options I am thinking about:

  • Honda Fit
  • Other Honda Subcompacts
  • Toyota Subcompacts
  •  
    pollinator
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    As always it depends! A small car with really high book mileage probably won't do that at motorway speeds with a couple of people in. Saying that any fairly modern car over here (Europe) will do 3x the mileage of that pickup. I have a 2005 Renault Megan estate 1.6  Considered a big and inefficient car here it gets 5.5L/100km (42mpg US) on our normal driving 2 people short drives 80kph limits (50mph)  that drops to 7.2/100 (33mpg US)when doing 130 (80mph) on the motorway with 3 people and luggage.

    So to get a radical improvement you do not need to buy a car newer than 10 years or spend much money.
     
    pollinator
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    My partner has a Mazda 3 and it is a great efficient machine. I have a ford explorer for those times we need to haul trailers or just pack in heavy loads. Both are great at what they do. Driving the Mazda alone versus the explorer with 4 people the explorer uses less fuel per person mile... of course the best option is all 4 in the mazda... the added bonus is if we can leave the explorer in the driveway most of the time it only rolls when I'm making money so it is just a tool with a high hourly cost. I've never needed a truck even with 20 plus years of construction behind me and have always used SUVs to do the heavy stuff.
     
    Rob Kaiser
    pollinator
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    Yep - I'm not looking for much of a hauler.  Just a car for a 15 minute regular commute and trips into town.  Also, something with easy folding seats that might come in handy.  I've owned a subaru, but would really like seats that fold flat, like a Honda Fit or a Toyota Matrix.  4WD / AWD is not a necessity for me as my truck is covered there.
     
    pollinator
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    I've been driving the same VW Passat TDI wagon since 2005. I get just over 900km or 550 miles from a 55l (10 imp. gal) tank of fuel. It's a 2.0l turbo diesel that tows 1/2 ton of trailer just fine when I need heavy loads.
    If the trip computer can be trusted (it can't) it shows 6.7l per 100k average over the life of the car, city and highway combined. I've seen 4.5 l per 100k  consumption over trips at 55mph.
    I'm almost at 400,000 km now, 2nd transmission, replaced turbo last year.
     
    gardener
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    There are all sorts of high mileage vehicles available overseas.
    In just about any country but America... seems they are banned here. They say it is emission related , maybe it is.
    My personal guess, is fuel sales / profits would suffer ...
     
    gardener
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    My grandparents used to own a Mercury Lynx (re-branded Ford Escort) with a Diesel engine and a 4-speed manual transmission.  They regularly got better than 50 mpg.  A shame that they don’t make either the Diesel compact car, nor the manual transmission.

    Eric
     
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    To check my own assumption, I went looking at fuel economy lists like
    http://www.fuelly.com/car
    https://www.mpgomatic.com/2011/09/08/40-mpg-cars-2001-2011/

    The best mileage possible is from small displacement commuter cars from Honda, Toyota, and VW. The diesel VW's are generally the king. But then you get into whats available in your area, what you can afford, how you drive, and if you want to get into car modifications to make it a personal contest. Lots of other cars make it onto the top if you get into aerodynamics and weight mods.

    Personally, my family has had some great unmodified high MPG VW cars, Rabbit, Jetta, and New Beetle. But they all broke down after a while. If you are factoring in vehicle lifespan, light trucks really challenge one's assumptions about the value of high MPG. The more work side of my families fleet has been Dodge Ram 2500 and Chevy Suburban 1500 rigs that are still going, they get 10-15 mpg but will probably last two or three times longer than the 30-50mpg VW's.
     
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    The best way to save gas on a vehicle is to combine trips, so that you actually drive less.  If you can, a smaller gas efficient vehicle for most of your driving coupled with a bigger van or truck is ideal.

    That said, I have an old toyota camry that gets great mileage.  it's my commuter.  I also have an older honda odyssey my wife and daughter use.  We need it for when we need more people or for hauling.  I know it's not as good as a pickup (for instance, my wife spoke sharply to me when I suggested hauling horse manure in a previous van.  I still ended up hauling the manure, but with way more tarps and trash bags than I had initially planned.).  For most things I need to haul though, a van is a good alternative to a pickup.  It gets better mileage and seats more and is more comfortable.  (Don't get mad, truck lovers, I'm not dogging on pickups.  I love them too, but there is something to be said for increased physical comfort, especially on a long drive).
     
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    I'm the geo metro guy. Three cylendar suzuki engine.
    City /hwy average 40 and empty car on the hwy 50.
    On one 300 mile trip i took the rear plastic bumper cover off and got 58 mpg. Though so much depends on headwinds and such.

    On these long trips i generally drive around 60 mph.
    The speed you drive has a lot of influence on mpg.

    I have several metros, a chevy metro (98) has more comfort but when i turned on the AC i lost 9 mpg.

    I am also a junkyard dog and unfortunately I've never seen a metro with more than 230.000 miles.

    I bought an old mercedes diesel (240 D) and thought I'd look at a partial vegetable oil conversion. Having the metro nixed that idea and anyway, that car is so beautiful i don't want to put a lot of dirt road miles on it.

    Before i broke the timing belt i was very happy with a honda dx (1988). I don't know the engine but i was getting 40 mpg fwy.



     
    gardener
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    I drove my father in laws Chevy Sprint, I think that was an older version of the Gel Metro.
    I never kept track of the mpg other than to note how little gas it took.
    Despite a 30 mile one way work commute , I filled it up about once a week.
    Mind you,  it could only get up to 65 mph,  and that was downhill with a tailwind!
    Could not kill it, it had 220,000 plus miles on it when I got a new vehicle, but he felt bad selling it,  so he gave it away to a nice young couple instead of taking the couple of hundred bucks that was all they had to spend.

    I've always thought a rail buggy would be second only to a motorcycle as a fuel sipper.
    It seemed like a cool idea,  when I was a young man...
     
    pollinator
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    I currently use my 1992 Chevy 2500 Silverado when I need to haul and use my 2001 Honda CRV to travel around in, especially in the cities. I have since gotten a 3rd vehicle a 1984 Suburu that I use as a mountain commuter. Using it to drive my 2 1/2 mile road and take the abuse the road gives saving my other rigs the damage.

    *edit to add, in the future I plan to go older, so I can avoid all the electronic BS add to vehicles today. If you need to connect it to a computer, then it is too new
     
    pollinator
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    “I am wondering, what is the most fuel efficient car on the road today that still burns gas?“

    I’d vote for a late 90’s/ early 2000’s Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. They have about a 1.6 engine and can average 40 mpg. A good balance of economy and power. In addition to just fuel economy, there’s also cost per mile. That’s the overall number when you factor in repairs, tires, etc. A well maintained Toyota or Honda has very low cost per mile (in addition to great fuel economy). A close second might be the same years of vw tdi, but even though some boast 50 mpg (my best with my 04 wagon has only been mid 40ish) the cost to own is higher unless you do all your own repairs. The other caveat with vw is to avoid the automatic transmission as they are known trouble. I use the hell out of my wagon, and with a tow hitch and roof rack, can do a lot of hauling that keeps the 1 ton dump (10 mpg) off the road. Even making 2 trips with the vw is half the cost of running the f350. However, if I’m going to haul a load of horse manure or logs, it’s more efficient (and far easier to unload) to use the truck, as I can haul 10 times the weight in one trip, and 20 times if I hook up the big trailer.

    So... the most fuel efficient vehicle is the one that is most efficient overall for your given use, not necessarily just the most mpg!
     
    Eric Hanson
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    I did hear about a university engineering department that set out a goal of getting a 100 mpg car.

    They started out with a small 2 seat car.  They stripped out everything not necessary to lighten.  They put in a 3 cylinder fuel injected Diesel engine along with a very efficient 5 speed transmission.  Both the engine oil and transmission fluid were a synthetic high lubricity fluid.  And of course they took what was a convertible and gave it a hard top.  All exterior surfaces were polished and waxed with another slick wax.  And some things I am forgetting.

    When they tested it out, they got just over 120 mpg!

    Eric

     
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    I too value having efficient transportation.  The price of new cars totally blows my mind.  (I guess that comes with "getting old" as I remember my parents buying a brand new VW in the 60s for $2,800).  Nowadays cars and trucks seem to all sell for $20,000  to $50,000!!!  and then you add in God only knows how much yearly for insurance, maintenance, repairs.... How much of a person's energy has to go into getting basic transportaion?  Has the world gone mad?  Do we really need all of this expensive high tech,... sensors, back up cameras, self-driving capability, entertainment systems.,, air conditioners???  especially considering the fact that these things will need to be fixed.    I just read a Consumer Reports article that mentioned how simple "fender benders" now often cost so much more because the sensors located in the fenders often get damaged and need replacing.   Give me a break.  Somebody with some sense just recreate a 1960's Toyota Corrolla and sell it for a reasonable $6000.  I don't need and I don't want any of these "extras".  
      This is how I get my transportation needs met.  I buy my cars used and cheap..., I have learned to repair them myself.  My friend just spent $1100 yesterday getting his Toyota starter and front wheel bearings replaced.    In the past few months I have done the very same things to my car for a total of $120 in parts and about 2 hours of labor.
     Many people in this thread have spoken of having to have both a car and a truck to cover their needs. What really bugs me about that is that the insurers want to charge you double as if you can drive them both at the same time...   I am a firm believer in having a good roof rack and a good small trailer.  I built a house hauling the majoritiy of the building supplies behind a Ford Escort using just those two items.
     
    master gardener
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    I need to add that how you drive is critical. I have a 2012 Silvarado (bought new) that I regularly pull over 30 mpg with on the highway.  That said it as a six and less than 30000 on it.  I only use it when I need a truck.
     
    Julie Reed
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    I fully agree David! And that’s why I mentioned that the most efficient vehicle has to be based on most efficient overall (cost per mile), not miles per gallon. What good is 50 mpg if the car is $50k to buy and super expensive to insure, maintain and repair? Or can’t really do what you need it to do?
    The 2 enemies are government regulation and consumer demand. The former leads to endless sensors and electronics in the name of safety and emissions, the latter leads to endless sensors and electronics in the name of convenience and amenities (and of course all that ‘stuff’ drives up insurance costs).
    When I was a kid we had a mid 60’s Dodge flatbed dump that was the sawmill truck. We named it Abe, because it was indeed an honest simple truck. It hauled slabs, sawdust, and occasionally logs and lumber. It was a dual rear wheel 1 ton model with a 6 cylinder and 4 speed. A tuneup was so simple a 10 year old could be taught to do it. I say that from personal experience. My dad always marveled that it got about 20 mpg loaded or empty. I now have a mid 90’s truck the same size, with a v-8 that gets 8-10 mpg empty going downhill, and needs a diagnostic machine to properly tune it. It’s far more expensive to maintain, despite doing the exact same amount of work. Are the emissions cleaner? I suppose so, but it’s burning at least twice the fuel per mile, so is that cleaner overall? And that’s a 25 year old truck! I could never justify $50k for its new equivalent.
    In the same vein as your $6,000 corolla wish, I’d love to be able to buy a new $15,000 1 ton dually truck that was bare bones and simple to work on. And got 20 mpg. Maybe it’s just me, but I bet a lot of people would buy one.
     
    Devin Lavign
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    David Fraleigh wrote:Many people in this thread have spoken of having to have both a car and a truck to cover their needs. What really bugs me about that is that the insurers want to charge you double as if you can drive them both at the same time...   I am a firm believer in having a good roof rack and a good small trailer.  I built a house hauling the majoritiy of the building supplies behind a Ford Escort using just those two items.



    My insurance is for the driver not the vehicle, so it works in what ever I get in.


    The 3 vehicles I own are for a reason. Each are very popular and easy to find spare parts. Just where I live there is a lot of '92 Chevy 2500 Silverado, '01 Honda CRV, and '84 Suburu's. They are some of the most common because they work in this area. The reason I got the Suburu was everything else broke down and I wanted something cheap while I waited. $400 is not a lot to get a functional vehicle. My road is rough, so it became my mountain transport, some I am not worried about hurting.
     
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    I've got to put in a vote for the Honda FIT as a great commuter/homesteader vehicle.  They're insanely reliable, cheap (both initial cost and repair cost) cars that can fit an amazing amount in them. I call mine a "FITruck".

    Things I've hauled in the back of my FIT
  • Pallet of Bricks
  • 2 yr old potted trees
  • Lumber (lot of lumber, 8ft boards will fit inside the car)
  • 8+ bags of cement at a time
  • Even more bags of mulch (for the "pretty" garden)


  • I've added a pair of cheap roof racks which I use for 4'x8' sheets and up to 12' boards. I'm currently building out a Harbor Freight folding trailer that I'll use for getting bulk mulches.  With a roof rack and small utility trailer I think the FIT is the car for the homesteader who still has a regular commute.

    Unloaded, using good driving techniques I can get 45mpg. If I use more extreme driving techniques I can get >50mpg.
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