Used Compact Cars With the Best Fuel Economy

With used cars in high demand because of the pandemic, focus on these reliable 5-year-old models

car on road LeManna

Buying a well-maintained used vehicle can be a smart move because it has gone though the most significant part of the depreciation cycle by the time it’s 5 years old. This means you’ll get many of the modern convenience and entertainment features found in brand-new models but at a lower price.

They were also designed and built recently enough that their performance in our tests—such as those for acceleration, braking, and fuel economy—is on a par with brand-new cars.

However, finding a new car or SUV can be a challenge. With the pandemic-related, global shortage of the chips needed for car safety and infotainment systems, shipments of new cars are often delayed or coming in at lower-than-expected volumes. This means supply is short and new-car dealers are charging a premium.

To help steer you to the best choice, we’ve assembled a list of the most fuel-efficient 5-year-old compact cars. All performed well enough in our tests to be recommended when new, and all have average or better reliability according to CR’s Annual Auto Surveys, where we ask CR members to tell us about what went wrong with their own cars.


All of these models include our new Green Choice designation, which highlights vehicles with the cleanest emissions. You can read more about Green Choice here.

If you’re a CR member, this article and the list below are already available to you. But if you haven’t signed up, click below and become a member to access this list and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and home appliances.

CR members can search our Used Car Marketplace for vehicles for sale in their area, sorting by the factors that matter most. The listings include CR reliability and owner satisfaction ratings, and most vehicles include a free Carfax report. Members can also access ratings and information on used vehicles going as far back as 20 years.

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.