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10 Cheap Non-Hybrid Cars That Get 40-MPG

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
August 21, 2015
4 min. Reading Time
2015 chevy cruze

2015 chevy cruze

Hybrid cars get all the hype, but you don't have to tote a battery around on your daily commute to benefit from excellent fuel economy. In fact, there's a long list of cheap non-hybrid cars that get 40-mpg - the once-elusive mark of exceptional fuel efficiency that is fast becoming much more common. Most of these ultra-frugal warriors are compact and subcompact cars intended to maximize value while minimizing the amount of time that you spend at the fuel pump every week. Modern technology and a keen focus on improving entry-level quality have gifted these fuel-sippers with a curb appeal they simply didn't have even five years ago.

Let's take a quick look at 10 cheap non-hybrid cars that get 40-mpg.

1. 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage

The 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage might be much-maligned for its decidedly cost-conscious approach to features and driving character, but there's no doubt that this cheap non-hybrid car can beat 40-mpg. The subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback is actually rated at 44-mpg on the highway and 37-mpg in city driving, making it the only vehicle on this list to post a 40-mpg combined fuel mileage rating. The secret is the Mirage's lightweight design combined with its miniscule 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine (good for 74 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque) and continuously-variable automatic transmission.


2. 2016 Dodge Dart Aero

The 2015 Dodge Dart Aero is a special version of the Dart sedan that is intended to maximize fuel economy by way of its low-rolling resistance tires, a flat underbody panel, and grille shutters that close at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics. Under the hood the Dodge Dart Aero features a 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that develops 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and when ordered with its standard six-speed manual transmission it turns in 28-mpg in stop and go driving and 41-mpg on the highway (its six-speed automated manual option drops a single mile per gallon from the highway measure).

 Photo by FCA Media

Photo by FCA Media

3. 2016 Mazda Mazda3

The 2016 Mazda Mazda3 - regardless of whether it is ordered as a hatchback or a sedan - benefits from the brand's Skyactiv drivetrain technology, which is oriented towards squeezing as many miles out of a tank of gas as possible. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv unit found in the Mazda Mazda3 produces 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque, and on the street you'll see 30-mpg around town and 41-mpg during highway cruising (in combination with the car's six-speed automatic transmission) and only a smidge less in the city if you go with the Mazda's six-speed manual instead.


4. 2015 Toyota Corolla LE Eco

The 2015 Toyota Corolla LE Eco might feature an engine that's the same displacement as the base version of the compact sedan, but internally there have been enough tweaks and changes to guarantee not only more power - 140 horses compared to the entry-level edition's 132 - but also improved fuel economy. The Toyota Corolla LE Eco's 1.8-liter, four-cylinder motor (which also generates 128 lb-ft of torque) is frugal enough to post 30-mpg in city driving and 42-mpg on the highway, and to achieve those numbers it requires the use of a continuously-variable automatic transmission (other Corolla editions see a four-speed auto or a six-speed manual in the mix).

 Photo by Toyota

Photo by Toyota

5. 2016 Volkswagen Golf TDI

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI is the first diesel entry on our list of cheap non-hybrid cars that gets 40-mpg. The Volkswagen Golf TDI treats your fuel budget right by way of its dazzling 30-mpg city and 45-mpg highway rating (for six-speed manual-equipped cars), which is all thanks to the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that comes with the compact hatchback. This unit can be counted on to produce 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, which are strong numbers in its class, and a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual is also available with the Golf TDI.


6. 2016 Honda Fit

The 2016 Honda Fit is a very practical subcompact hatchback choice, given that its reams of interior storage are wrapped in a tiny, easy to park package that's perfect for urban living. The Honda Fit also happens to offer outstanding fuel economy by way of its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that has been tuned to provide 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are complemented by its EPA rating of 33-mpg in stop and go driving and 41-mpg on the highway, which is in turn linked to its optional continuously-variable automatic transmission.

 Photo by Honda

Photo by Honda

7. 2015 Ford Focus / Focus SE EcoBoost

The 2015 Ford Focus actually offers a pair of drivetrain options that each hit the 40-mpg highway mark. First up is the standard Ford Focus matched with its available six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, which turns in 27-mpg in city driving and 40-mpg on the highway while offering 160 horsepower and 146 horsepower from a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder mill. Next is the Focus SE EcoBoost, which swaps in a 1.0-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder engine that's good for 123 horsepower, 148 lb-ft of torque, and 29-mpg city / 40-mpg highway. The latter can only be had with a six-speed manual transmission.

 Photo by Ford

Photo by Ford

8. 2015 Honda Civic HF

The 2015 Honda Civic HF - like the Dart Aero - benefits from mileage-friendly gear such as lightweight wheels wrapped in low-rolling resistance rubber and a smooth underbody. This helps the Honda Civic HF wring out 31-mpg in stop and go driving and 41-mpg on the highway from the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine used throughout the rest of the compact sedan's line-up, alongside output of 143 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. The HF's sparkling efficiency figures are also linked to the Civic's optional continuously-variable automatic transmission (and not the standard six-speed manual).


9. 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI takes the same fuel-sipping turbodiesel drivetrain offered by the Golf TDI and repackages it in the form of a compact sedan. The best news: even though the Volkswagen Jetta TDI is larger than its hatch sibling, it offers near-identical fuel economy of 31-mpg in city driving and 46-mpg on the highway (when found with its six-speed manual transmission). The 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine offered by the Jetta TDI is good for 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque and can, of course, be ordered with Volkswagen's six-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.


10. 2015 Chevrolet Cruze Eco

The 2015 Chevrolet Cruze Eco rounds out our list of cheap non-hybrid cars that get 40-mpg. The Chevrolet Cruze Eco is motivated by a 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that develops 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, and thanks to the Eco package's rear spoiler, low-rolling resistance tires, and special lightweight rims, it's capable of providing 28-mpg around town and 42-mpg on the highway, numbers associated with its six-speed manual transmission. A slightly less efficient six-speed automatic can also be ordered with the Cruze.



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