The last time gasoline prices were incredibly important to Americans was in 2012, when oil prices pushed gas prices toward $4 a gallon. That may happen again in America this year. Unfortunately for many car owners, drivers recently have turned sharply toward sport utility vehicle and pickup ownership. These rarely make lists of the most fuel-efficient cars.
When does fuel efficiency matter? That is based largely on three factors. The first is disposable income. People with low incomes who drive fairly often find much of this income consumed by what they pay at the pump. Another factor is how far people need to drive each day. Some people commute 30, 40 or even 50 miles each day. Finally, some people care about the “green” footprints of their cars. These drivers are unlikely to own hulking SUVs. The good news for these groups is that all new passenger vehicles now get better gas mileage than they used to. One open question is whether the best fuel efficiency is for gas-powered cars, hybrids or electric vehicles (EVs)?
Preliminary data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 Automotive Trends Report predicts that the average fuel economy of all light-duty passenger vehicles (meaning all cars and SUVs and most pickup trucks) will have increased to a record 25.7 miles per gallon for 2020 models, up from 24.9 mpg for 2019.
In all, fuel economy has risen by nearly 30% since 2004, thanks to improved powertrain efficiencies and the wider introduction of hybrid technology.
To identify the most fuel-efficient vehicle from all that were built for the 2022 model year, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the EPA’s 2022 Fuel Economy Guide. Fuel efficiency for city, highway and combined, as well as annual fuel costs for each vehicle, were derived from the report.
The 2022 model with the best gas mileage is the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which has a fuel-efficiency measure of 120 miles per gallon (131 mpg city, 109 mpg highway). That makes its annual fuel cost by our measure $550. The 2022 model may be in more demand than the 2021 model, which carried discounts of as much as $11,000.