Special Report

America’s Most Fuel Efficient Cars

With gasoline prices inching closer to $4 and even $5 a gallon, more Americans will make high gas mileage a priority when they buy their next car. The good news is that new technologies allow high levels of engine efficiencies that were previously unattainable. Some electric cars get well over 50 miles per gallon. Several hybrids get more than 40 MPG, as do several cars that run on very small four-cylinder engines.

Read America’s Most Fuel Efficient Cars

Automakers are manufacturing more fuel-efficient vehicles because the market for them has grown. These days, there are many more cost-conscious buyers, as well as people who want to use green cars. The first Toyota Prius hybrid was built in 1997 and went into global production barely a decade ago, in 2001. The first Chevy Volt all-electric car went on sale just a little more than a year ago, in late 2010.

But the increased production of high-mileage cars is not just because of the increased demand. The federal government also will require car companies to produce much more fuel-efficient vehicles in the future. President Obama’s new fuel economy standards call for car companies to have fleetwide average MPG of 54.5 by 2025. For that to happen, the number of hybrid and electric car models will have to grow rapidly.

24/7 Wall St. asked the U.S. Department of Energy for a list of the most fuel-efficient cars for sale in America. Each of the 10 most fuel-efficient cars were reviewed for MPG, engine type, configuration and the cost of fuel over the course of a year, as well as the cost of the vehicle.

Average MPG is based on a combination of city and highway driving. In the case of hybrids or electric cars with auxiliary gas engines, the average MPG of the two engine types in the vehicle were combined. Research firm Edmunds or the vehicle manufacturers themselves provided car prices. The annual cost of fuel is based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15,000 annual miles and current fuel prices. Those fuels price are, of course, rising by the day right now.

These are America’s most fuel-efficient cars.