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The cheapest cars in America to fill up

Consumer Reports News: April 04, 2012 09:08 AM

As gas prices hover near $4 a gallon nationwide, there are more than 20 SUVs and trucks that cost more than $100 to fill up. But, there are almost 30 cars that cost less than $50 to refuel. We crunched the numbers and found the cheapest cars in America to fill up.

The cars that cause the least pain at the pump are almost exclusively small cars. The largest fuel tank in the group is 12.4 gallons. These tend to also be rather fuel-efficient cars, going beyond limiting pump-price shock by minimizing true operating costs. Consequently, the driving range for these vehicles is relatively long, stretching from 394 miles for the Kia Soul to 655 for the Toyota Prius.

To make these calculations, we started with almost 300 vehicles in our current test ratings, then multiplied the fuel capacity against the current nationwide average fuel costs, according to the Energy Information Administration. The results put 29 models under the $50 threshold. Regular gasoline prices edged up two cents this week, bumping two models off the list that would have made it last week.

If you're looking to minimize pain at the pump, then these vehicles warrant a closer look. But, be sure to emphasize fuel economy, rather than fill-up cost, to reduce your long-term operating costs. In fact, go one better by looking at the total owner costs, including depreciation, maintenance, repair, insurance, and other factors. All this information is available on the model pages by clicking on the vehicle names below.

Make & Model Fuel type Fuel capacity Range Cost to fill
Smart ForTwo Passion Premium 8.7 382.8 $36.45
Chevrolet Volt Premium 9.3 332 $38.97 + $1.50 electricity
Fiat 500 Sport Regular 10.5 441.0 $41.37
Fiat 500c Pop Regular 10.5 441.0 $41.37
Honda CR-Z EX Regular 10.6 477.0 $41.76
Honda Fit (base) Regular 10.6 413.4 $41.76
Honda Fit Sport (manual) Regular 10.6 392.2 $41.76
Honda Insight Regular 10.6 477.0 $41.76
Scion xD (base) Regular 11.1 421.8 $43.73
Scion xD (base manual) Regular 11.1 444.0 $43.73
Toyota Yaris LE Regular 11.1 455.1 $43.73
Kia Rio EX hatchback Regular 11.3 418.1 $44.52
Kia Rio EX sedan Regular 11.3 440.7 $44.52
Mazda2 Sport (manual) Regular 11.3 452.0 $44.52
Mazda2 Touring Regular 11.3 429.4 $44.52
Nissan Versa sedan SV Regular 11.3 452.0 $44.52
Hyundai Accent GLS Regular 11.4 513.0 $44.92
Hyundai Accent SE (manual) Regular 11.4 456.0 $44.92
Lexus CT 200h Premium Regular 11.9 559.3 $46.89
Suzuki SX4 Tech hatchback Regular 11.9 368.9 $46.89
Toyota Prius IV Regular 11.9 654.5 $46.89
Toyota Prius V Three Regular 11.9 559.3 $46.89
Chevrolet Sonic LT Regular 12.2 463.6 $48.07
Chevrolet Sonic LTZ (manual) Regular 12.2 475.8 $48.07
Ford Fiesta SES hatchback (manual) Regular 12.4 520.8 $48.86
Ford Fiesta SE sedan Regular 12.4 558.0 $48.86
Ford Focus SEL hatchback Regular 12.4 483.6 $46.89
Ford Focus SE sedan Regular 12.4 533.2 $48.86
Nissan Juke Premium 11.9 368.9 $49.86

See our guide to fuel economy for advice on saving gasoline, including how to get the best gas mileage with your current vehicle.

Updated: 4/5/12, 4/19/12

Jeff Bartlett

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