With high gas prices and a challenging economy still rattling people’s nerves, many in need of a car are considering buying used. However, to save more money, it’s worth getting a used car that is also fuel efficient, so you not only pay less to purchase the vehicle, but also to operate it.
We’ve put together a list of the most fuel-efficient cars we’ve tested over the last 10 years (2001-2010). Many are hybrids, which give you the best option for paying less at the pump. Also, a manual transmission vehicle will generally get you better gas mileage than an automatic.
While it seems as if fuel economy is a deal maker or deal breaker these days, we encourage shoppers to dig deeper, looking at cars that are also reliable, safe, and perform well in our tests. Most models below meet these criteria to be recommended, but not all. For example, the ultra-efficient first-generation Honda Insight returned incredible fuel economy numbers in our tests, but with its stiff, choppy ride and ever-present road noise, it wasn’t a particularly good car to drive. Still, this list focuses on fuel economy.
For more on used cars including fuel economy, reliability, and Ratings, check out our used car model overviews. And see our list of best and worst used cars.
Also review our best used-car deals report for good prices on used vehicles from the past 5 years across a variety of vehicle categories.
|Model-year range ||Tested model ||Transmission ||CR's overall mpg |
|2001-2006 ||Honda Insight ||5-speed manual ||51 |
|2010 ||Toyota Prius IV ||CVT ||44 |
|2004-2009 ||Toyota Prius || CVT ||44 |
|2007-2009 ||Toyota Prius Touring ||CVT ||42 |
|2001-2003 ||Toyota Prius ||CVT ||41 |
|2001-2005 ||VW Golf GLS TDI ||5-speed manual ||41 |
|2008-2010 ||Smart ForTwo Passion ||Sequential 5-speed ||39 |
|2010 ||Honda Insight EX ||CVT ||38 |
|2010 ||VW Golf TDI ||6-speed manual ||38 |
|2001-2005 ||Toyota Echo ||5-speed manual ||38 |
|2006-2010 ||Honda Civic Hybrid ||CVT ||37 |
|2003-2005 ||Honda Civic Hybrid ||CVT ||36 |
|2009-2010 ||VW Jetta wagon TDI ||Sequential 6-speed ||34 |
|2006 ||VW Jetta sedan TDI ||Sequential 6 ||34 |
|2010 ||Ford Fusion Hybrid ||CVT ||34 |
|2007-2008 ||Honda Fit Sport ||5-speed manual ||34 |
|2007-2009 ||Toyota Yaris 2-door hatchback ||5-speed manual ||34 |
|2007-2010 ||Toyota Camry Hybrid ||CVT ||34 |
|2007-2010 ||Scion xD ||5-speed manual ||34 |
|2007-2009 ||Toyota Yaris sedan ||4-speed automatic ||33 |
To get detailed pricing on a used car or for vehicle comparisons, subscribe to Cars Best Deals Plus or our Used Car Price Reports. Also, see our used car buying guide and our list of most reliable used cars.
If you're concerned about the longevity of a hybrid, check out our test of a 200,000-mile Toyota Prius.