EPA’s 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Car Picks for 2012
Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the official mileage ratings for cars, it makes sense to turn to them for the their ranking of the top 10 most energy efficient cars in 2012. With new models coming out already in this earliest season ever of new car roll-outs, it’s a good time to take stock of this year’s leaders for comparison as the 2013 models start hitting the dealership showrooms. On EPA’s list for 2012 are electric and hybrid vehicles only, with no diesels or pure gasoline engines.
#1 Mitsubishi i 126/99 mpg
And now for the drum roll…The most fuel-efficient car in America is… the Mitsubishi i. Also known as the i-MiEV, it’s rated at 126-mpg in the city and 99-mpg on the highway. This model offers excellent all-electric efficiency, with an affordable price. Typically cheaper to power than gas-only models, It has crisp acceleration and a quiet cabin.
#2 Nissan Leaf 106/92 mpg
Unlike the Volt, it doesn’t have an extended range, but it does offer some rather shocking fuel economy numbers. At 106-mpg city rating and 92-mpg highway rating the Nissan Leaf comes in as a runner up to the top spot. Nissan claims a real-world range of 70 miles. A 220-volt outlet can charge the car in 7 hours, with a special quick-charger that can deliver up to an 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes.
#3 Ford Transit Connect Electric 62/62 mpg
It’s almost not fair to include the Ford Transit Connect Electric in this list, because no one is going to buy one as a daily driver. Still, it gets an impressive 62-city and 62-mpg highway rating and can haul around plenty of flowers, or lumber, or artwork. It’s third on the list.
#4 Chevrolet Volt 58/62 mpg
The most fuel-efficient vehicle on the list that actually uses fuel is the Chevrolet Volt, coming in 4th with a 58-mpg city and 62-mpg highway rating. Of note, the Volt is ranked at 37-mpg by the EPA on extended range (using both gasoline and electricity), and 96-mpg on a pure EV range. The Volt gets a 60-mpge (miles per gallon equivalent) rating as well, a real world indication of what consumers should expect. But perhaps the most impressive feature of the Volt is that unlike any range-limited EVs, it allows for a total distance of 379 miles.
#5 Prius 51/48 mpg
The best selling hybrid in the world, it’s responsible for half of all hybrid sales in the U.S. and ranks fifth on the EPA’s list of the Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Cars. With a 51-mpg city and 48-mpg highway rating it was the first car to hit the magical 50-mpg average mark. Perhaps more impressive is that even after several years on the market it’s still a leader. For 2012 the Prius gains Toyota’s Entune telematics system with numerous apps, including XM Fuel Prices to help you find the cheapest gas near you.
#6 Civic Hybrid 44/44 mpg
All new for 2012, the Civic Hybrid gets a solid jump in fuel economy to land at the sixth spot on the list with a 44-mpg city and 44-mpg highway rating. Much of the increase comes as a result of a new lithium-ion battery and is the first example of a Li-On battery being used in a production Honda. In addition, Honda has replaced the 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 1.5-liter, meaning that not only is fuel economy up, but power gets a slight bump too, to 110-hp and 127 ft-lbs.
#7 Prius v 44/40 mpg
The second member of the Prius family, the Prius v ranks 7th with a 44-mpg city and a 40-mpg highway rating, besting the Lexus CT by just one mpg. And while the Lexus is aimed more at urbanites, the v is targeted at modern families, who need space and functionality (it’s got 67 cu-ft of cargo room). Like the CT200 and the standard Prius, power comes from Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive with 134-hp.
#8 Lexus CT200h 43/40 mpg
One of the most luxurious and enjoyable to drive models on the list, the Lexus CT200h ranks 8th with a 43-mpg city and 40-mpg highway rating. It’s the brand’s second dedicated hybrid model, after the low-selling, HS250h, and it seems to be off to a good start, meeting sales goals and attracting a new, younger demographic to the Lexus brand.
#9 Honda Insight 41/44 mpg
Updated for 2012, the Honda Insight squeezes onto the Top 10 list in 9th position with a 41-mpg city and 44-mpg highway. Thanks to aerodynamic enhancements and reduced friction components for the engine and transmission, the numbers have improved over last year’s 40/43 rating. Average fuel economy is 42 mpg.
#10 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE 43/39 mpg
The Toyota Camry Hybrid LE is officially rated at 43-mpg city and 39-mpg highway. With a combined rating of 41-mpg, it’s the only true mid-size sedan to achieve an average of 40-mpg or better. And these numbers don’t come at the expense of performance, with 200-hp on tap. XLE models, which have more content and are heavier, are rated at 40-mpg city and 38 mpg highway.