Subcompact cars get a lot of the fuel efficiency spotlight, but there are many compact cars out there that provide some of the best gas mileage you can find. A few of these vehicles might not technically burn gas - see turbodiesels - while others require the assistance of electrons in the form of a hybrid drivetrain in order to achieve their impressively frugal performance. Still, when seeking out the best gas mileage it's important not to bypass compacts on your way to the subcompact aisle - especially considering the practical advantages of these slightly larger models.
Let's take a quick look at 10 compact cars with the best gas mileage.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 01 - 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid
The 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid is a perennial best gas mileage contender thanks to its successful implementation of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid technology. The Honda Civic Hybrid features a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder gas engine hooked up to a single electric motor, an arrangement that produces a total of 110 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for the hybrid is listed at 44-mpg in city driving and 44-mpg on the highway, which is 16-mpg better than the base Civic around town. A continuously-variable automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the sedan.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 02 - 2013 Ford Focus SFE
The 2013 Ford Focus SFE - or Super Fuel Economy - is the most frugal version of the brand's entry-level compact car. The SFE package adds special low-rolling resistance tires, wheel covers that are as aerodynamic as possible, and a rear spoiler to the Ford Focus, which also comes with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. The latter is good for 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque, and in SFE trim it features a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Fuel mileage for the Focus SFE is listed at 28-mpg in stop and go driving and 40-mpg on the highway.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 03 - 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI brings a secret weapon to our compact car fuel mileage showdown: a turbodiesel engine. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel motor found under the hood of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI returns efficiency figures of 30-mpg around town and 42-mpg during highway cruising. Power is also excellent, with 140 horses buttressed by 236 lb-ft of twist. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the Jetta TDI, while a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual can be selected as an option, and you can even get a wagon version of this hyper-efficient compact.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 04 - 2014 Toyota Corolla
The 2014 Toyota Corolla returns to 'best gas mileage' competition this year thanks to a complete redesign that sees it modernize aspects of its drivetrain in order to improve efficiency. The Toyota Corolla maintains a 1.8-liter engine that generates 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque, but it gains the availability of either a six-speed manual or a continuously-variable automatic transmission, each of which improving on its fuel-sipping capability. When equipped with a CVT, and in the special Eco trim level, the Corolla can be counted on to return 30-mpg around town and 42-mpg on the highway, figures that match the pricier Jetta TDI.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 05 - 2013 Nissan Sentra
The 2013 Nissan Sentra is another all-new compact sedan that leverages the advantage of a continuously-variable automatic transmission to improve its fuel efficiency. After years of underwhelming performance, the Nissan Sentra is now a top contender in the frugality sweepstakes with an EPA rating of 30-mpg in stop and go driving and 40-mpg on the highway (when found in FE trim, which enhances aero and other mpg-adding aspects of the sedan). The Sentra's only available engine is a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder unit that pushes out 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque, which are respectable, but not class-leading numbers.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 06 - 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid
The 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid is based largely on the same platform as the Honda Civic Hybrid, so it's not surprise that this compact luxury car offers similar power and efficiency at the fuel pump. The Acura ILX Hybrid delivers a version of the brand's IMA hybrid setup that pairs a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a battery-powered electric motor to produce a total of 111 horsepower - one more than the Civic Hybrid. The heavier ILX Hybrid is also a bit less impressive from a mileage standpoint, with a rating of 39-mpg in city driving and 38-mpg on the highway. A continuously-variable automatic transmission is included with the Acura.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 07 - 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel manages to improve on the already impressive fuel mileage figures posted by the turbocharged gas edition of the compact sedan. The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel's 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine delivers 151 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful member of the Cruze lineup. Fuel mileage of 27-mpg in stop and go driving and 46-mpg on the highway also make it Cruze model least likely to ding your wallet at the pump, with the latter figure standing four miles per gallon above the Cruze Eco. The Cruze Diesel comes exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 08 - 2013 Subaru Impreza
The 2013 Subaru Impreza has thrown off the shackles of its previously inefficient reputation and now overcomes the extra weight of its standard all-wheel drive to deliver better-than-average fuel economy. The secret is the car's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder motor and continuously-variable automatic transmission combination, the latter being an option that helps the car provide 27-mpg in city driving and 36-mpg on the highway. This makes the Subaru Impreza the most frugal all-wheel drive car on the market. Power checks in at 148 horses and 145 lb-ft of torque for all versions of the car, which comes in both hatchback and sedan body styles.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 09 - 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI
The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI packages the same turbodiesel engine found in the Jetta TDI in a sleek coupe - or convertible - form. This makes it a more popular choice amongst style-conscious commuters, a fact enhanced by the Volkswagen Beetle's recently refreshed, not-quite-as-retro styling. 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque are generated by the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel unit, and the best performance is obtained via the car's six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission (28-mpg city / 41-mpg highway). The convertible Beetle TDI is the only non-gas-powered drop top currently on sale in the United States.
10 Compact Cars With The Best Gas Mileage - 10 - 2014 Mazda MAZDA3
The 2014 Mazda Mazda3 shines as one of our 10 compact cars with the best gas mileage thanks to the introduction of the Skyactiv family of engines. These lightweight, direct-injected marvels are at their best in the Mazda MAZDA3, where a 2.0-liter unit generates 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. The sedan (or hatchback) provides the best fuel economy when it is shifted via its six-speed automatic transmission instead of its six-speed manual, turning in figures of 30-mpg in city driving and 40-mpg on the highway. The car also provides above average handling when compared against other compacts in its class.