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Top-20 most fuel-efficient used cars

Consumer Reports News: May 20, 2011 11:28 AM

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.

Liza Barth

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