Jumbo Card Image

Choosing the Best Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Buying a new car is a big decision. These days, choosing a car is more than just finding the capabilities you need and the styles you prefer. Limiting one’s carbon footprint is now a priority for all manner of vehicle enthusiasts from soccer moms to sports car junkies. Yes, the demand for fuel-efficient vehicles is reaching new heights. The question is, how do you find the most fuel-efficient car, while also finding one that fits your lifestyle?

How Do I Know What’s Right For Me?

Fuel-efficient hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles are still very new to the public. How these vehicles work and their differences from conventional gas-powered vehicles are not widely understood. So, you may be asking yourself: "How do I know which car is right for me? Below we'll go over tips on EPA ratings and tips for choosing the best fuel-efficient car for you. Here are a few tips to help you in your search:

1. Know What You Need From Your Car

The first step to deciding on a car is to think about your requirements. This seems like an easy step, but you should take the time to consider your vehicle needs. You don't want to jump at the first good deal only to find out it doesn't have the cargo space or fun-to-drive feel you really want.

When thinking about your next car, consider these questions:

  • Who will be driving with you most often? What’s the maximum number of seats you will need?
  • Will you be hauling a lot of cargo? Do you need room for camping equipment, bikes, or other gear?
  • Do you want a sophisticated infotainment system?
  • What features are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves?
  • Will this be a work car? If so, choose an ultra efficient vehicle that you’ll put lots of miles on during its life.
  • Is speed and flashy styling the priority? Or will you need something that can get past dirt trails and the occasional boulder?
  • Is price a factor? If yes, what’s the most you want to spend?

You can take advantage of offered versatile feature options while you look for a car with the desired specs you’re looking for. If you want space and fuel efficiency but still crave adventure, the RAV4’s Adventure grade may be for you.

2. Consider Engine Size

If you haul a lot of items or people around, you may want to have some power under the hood. Keep in mind, you’ll pay for that power at the pump. Generally speaking, a car with a 4-cylinder engine is more fuel-efficient than one with a 6 or 8-cylinder engine. Although, there are some exceptions. For example, a 4-cylinder engine with a turbocharger might actually consume more fuel than a 6-cylinder engine with no turbocharger. Another misconception: hybrid means slow. In many cases these days, hybrid drivetrain systems actually produce more horsepower and torque than their straight gas-burning counterparts.

3. Weighing Your Options

For drivers wanting big savings at the pump, hybrid vehicles might seem like an obvious choice—yet they’re often overlooked. Today’s tech-advanced hybrid vehicles offer proven reliability and come in a range of types—from compact car to SUV. You may pay a little bit more for a hybrid upfront. However, the anticipated savings at the gas station are often worth it. Hybrids are some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market.

Depending on the hybrid model you choose, you could save hundreds of dollars a year in fuel costs while never noticing a difference in performance. If you're looking to likely save even more on gas, consider a plug-in hybrid model.

What is a plug-in hybrid? A plug-in hybrid is a car that has the capability to run fully electric. As the name suggests, you plug the car in to charge it.

You may be asking: "What if I'd like to use an electric car as my work car?" That is a great question. A lot of drivers are opting for electric vehicles to commute to and from work. But, if you're new to electric vehicles, you might be wondering if that's a good option for you.

Take a look at the Prius Prime and try out the commute calculator for yourself. Simply put in your home address, work address, and whether or not your workplace has access to a charger. Hit the "calculate" button and you'll find out your possible gas savings and whether or not you can make it to work on a charge.

If you're not sure what car is right for you, many car websites allow you to compare two or more cars side-by-side. For instance, let's say you're thinking about the Corolla Hatchback. Follow this link to the Corolla Hatchback “Full Specs” page. You'll see how it stacks up to other Corolla Hatchback models. You can also take a look at a side-by-side comparison between other Toyotas and a competitor vehicle, like the Honda Civic (Corolla vs. Civic).

4. Fuel Economy and EPA Ratings

When comparing two cars, you might be curious about the EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings. What do they mean and how do they arrive at that number?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates cars on two types of driving:

  • City - this means driving in urban areas where the traffic is stop and go during rush hour. Your commute to work is a great example of this.
  • Highway - this means driving on both interstate highways and in rural areas. Think road trips or long peaceful drives where you hold continuous speeds for long periods of time.

The EPA arrives at these numbers by placing the vehicle on a machine called a dynamometer. The dynamometer measures data from the vehicle on a flat platform with rollers under the vehicle wheels. The dyno then runs through standardized testing routines called cycles. There are cycles for both city and highway driving.

As the vehicle runs through the test, a hose connected to the tailpipe will collect carbon exhaust data. This data is then used to figure out how much fuel is being burned. The EPA employs different methods for electric and fuel cell vehicles.

It is important to note that EPA-estimated ratings are provided by the EPA and are for comparison purposes only. Actual mileage will vary for many reasons, including driving conditions and how the vehicle is driven and maintained. To learn more about EPA ratings, you can visit the EPA's website here or learn about the various parts of the fuel economy label. In the last section, we'll go over a tip that can help you save.

5. Buy a New Hybrid

If you’re looking to save some gas money, buying a new car is the perfect way to fill up for less. With each new model year, cars become more and more fuel-efficient. Not only that, Toyota offers both hybrid and gas models at similar starting price points. The slightly higher cost of Toyota hybrid models could easily be outweighed by savings at the pump depending on how much you drive.

Whether you commute to work or are an avid traveler, you’ll likely be spending less time fueling and more time getting places. For example, you can take home the new 2020 Corolla LE w/CVT with an EPA-estimated 30/38/33 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. Its hybrid counterpart, the 2020 Corolla Hybrid LE w/CVT, has an EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The possibilities for adventure are endless with the significantly more fuel-efficient hybrid drivetrain.

It’s also worthwhile to mention that Toyota increased the Hybrid Battery warranty or 2020 models from 8 years or 100,000 miles, to 10 years from date of first use, or 150,000 miles whichever comes first.

Hybrid, plug-in, and gas-powered cars are getting better and more sophisticated with each year. In general, the newer the car, the more efficient the fuel-consumption technology.

Get the Most Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Today

If you need a vehicle with some of the best fuel efficiency, look no further than Toyota. Not only has Toyota been known to make legendarily reliable cars, but Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain technology has powered multiple fuel-efficient vehicles across multiple manufacturers.

Four of the Best Fuel-Efficient Toyota Cars

Now that you know what to look for, check out which of these four fuel-efficient Toyota vehicle suggestions fits your lifestyle. Or, view all the Toyota fuel-efficient car options and Toyota Hybrid SUVs to pick one for yourself.

Two Toyota Yaris parked on top of a parking garage

1. Yaris

Are you looking for a sporty car to cruise around town in? Do you want a car that lets you have total control? Then consider the Toyota Yaris. The Yaris not only has a stylish and sporty exterior, but its performance is top-notch. If you choose a 2020 Yaris L 6-speed manual transmission, the EPA-estimated MPG rating is 39 highway and 30 city. If you choose the 2020 Yaris L 6-speed automatic transmission, the EPA-estimated MPG rating is 40 highway and 32 city.

Blue Prius with roof rack parked on a dirt road

2. Prius

The Prius has a reputation for great fuel performance. The 2020 Prius L Eco hybrid model is no different. It has an EPA-estimated MPG of 58 city and 53 highway. Fuel efficiency doesn't mean you can only drive city roads. The 2020 Prius also offers an AWD-capable grade for improved driving performance in variable road conditions. Despite the AWD capability, the 2020 Prius LE AWD-e trim system operates at speeds up to 43 mph and has an EPA-estimated combined 56 MPG. It's for this reason and more we've put the Prius on our most fuel-efficient vehicles list.

Prius Prime driving fast down a two-lane road

3. Prius Prime

The Prius Prime is the hybrid you can plug-in or fill up. Unlike the rest of the lineup, this car can run on a full tank of gas or a fully-charged electric battery. The 2020 Prius Prime LE has an EPA-estimated MPG of 55 city and 53 highway. Fully charged, this car has an EPA-estimated MPGe of a whopping 133 combined. If you're wanting to see how far electric can get you but aren't ready to give up gas, this car is for you.

Red Camry Hybrid parked in front of a modern building

4. Camry Hybrid

If you already love the Camry for its dependability, you'll love the Camry Hybrid even more. It’s one of our best fuel-efficient vehicles and comes with impressive standard features and tons of available upgrades. With an EPA-estimated 51 city and 53 highway MPG, the 2020 Camry Hybrid LE blends a great drive with an even better estimated fuel economy. Find your local Toyota dealer for the best deals on fuel-efficient vehicles.