Most Economical Car

Economical car data by country & car type

Most Economical Car

The most economical car is the car that can travel the greatest distance in miles on 1 gallon of fuel ie. the car that returns the greatest mpg (miles per gallon). When talking about miles per gallon we need to know which gallon is being referred to - the U.S. or the imperial gallon. The imperial gallon is about 20% bigger than its U.S. equivalent. We also need to know whether the car was being driven in the city or on the highway as highway driving almost always returns higher mpg ratings. The most economical car is a title which manufacturers are deperate to have.

The average fuel economy of U.S. cars is about 27 mpg. The most economical car overall is the hybrid Toyota Prius which has a combined (city and highway) fuel economy of 46 mpg. Interestingly, its city gas mileage is higher than its highway mileage. This is unusual for cars and its due to the incredible fuel saving technology in the Prius. When in the city the car is able to shut down its petrol engine at low speeds and solely use an electric motor. It therefore burns no fuel at traffic lights or in a queue of traffic while standard internal combustion engines keep running, damaging their mileage figures. The Prius has lots of other fuel saving techniques when in a city such as recapturing energy when braking which would be lost in a normal car.

The most economical car with a standard internal combustion engine is the Smart Car with a combined gas mileage of 36 mpg. This car is a tiny 2 seater with a 3 cylinder 1.0 liter petrol engine. It is lightweight and has narrow tires which have little rolling resistance. Although very small and light, the Smart Car is quite a safe car to be in.

The most efficient large car is the Hyundai Sonata which achieves 25 miles per gallon city and highway combined. Its a 4 cylinder 2.4 litre petrol engine with front wheel drive. Its a good looking car and would make an ideal family car.

The most efficient station wagon is the Kia Rondo. It has a fuel economy of 22 mpg. Like the Sonata, it has a 4 cylinder 2.4 litre petrol engine driving the front wheels. The Kia boasts 108 cubic feet of passenger space and 32 cubic feet of luggage space.

The fuel economy of petrol and diesel engines has greatly increased in recent times. Car makers have spent a lot of time and money trying to make improvements in this area. Some of the techniques to save fuel they came up with are:

  • Reduce aerodynamic drag of a car
  • Reduce vehicle weight
  • Reduce rolling resistance of tires
  • Use lower friction oils
  • Engines with variable valve timing
  • Fuel injected petrol engines
  • Turbocharged fuel injected diesel engines
  • Common Rail diesel technology
  • Use a small engine with an electric motor (hybrid electric)
  • Shut down the engine when the car is stationary (mild hybrid)
  • Recapture energy while braking (regenerative braking)