You’d think this would be a cut and dried category, the cars with the best gas mileage rise to the top and the cars with the worst gas mileage sink to the bottom. Thing is, there are a few mitigating circumstances. Electric vehicles (EVs) get the best gas mileage of all because they use no gasoline at all, therefore they would dominate the list. Assuming most of you are intelligent enough to understand this, and are more interested in vehicles with internal combustion engines, EVs are left off of this list altogether.
Further, it’s very easy to create a list of the best MPG cars by focusing only on the smallest models available. However, this would overlook the fact cars come in many different categories. Now, while we could well do an article listing the best MPG cars in each category, we feel it’d be more useful for you to present a listing of the best MPG 2012 cars in each automotive category as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Thus, this article lists each of the best MPG 2012 cars sold in the U.S. in each of the EPA’s categories: Two Seaters, Minicompacts, Subcompacts, Compacts, Midsize, Large, Small Station Wagons and Midsize Station Wagons.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, five of the ten vehicles on this list of high MPG 2012 cars (fully half!) are hybrids. Alternative fuels make a good showing as well, with two of the ten best MPG 2012 cars running on clean diesel.
The spiritual successor to Honda’s original hybrid, and actually the first hybrid car on the market, the Honda CR-Z is the only hybrid on the market that comes with a manual transmission as standard equipment. For the best fuel economy though, go with the continuously variable transmission (CVT). The sporty little two-seater has entertaining driving characteristics and good cargo capacity. As a city car, it’s all most people would need.
Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, power windows, mirrors and door locks; keyless entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a cargo cover, and a six-speaker sound system with steering-wheel audio controls fed by a CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB audio interface for portable audio devices.
The most fuel-efficient version of the front-drive 2012 Honda CR-Z uses a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor for a total output of 122 horsepower and 123 ft.-lbs. of torque.
Small on the outside, but big enough on the inside, the Scion iQ picks up where the Smart fortwo leaves off. While Scion’s PR team would love to see us say the iQ will seat four (which it will), it seats three a lot more comfortably (for the driver). Robust, stable on the highway and more than adequately powered, you can pretty much drive a Scion iQ anywhere you’d drive, say a Toyota Yaris or a Corolla.
Standard equipment includes power windows, mirrors, and door locks; you’ll also find air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with a 50/50-split-folding rear seat. The 2012 Scion iQ also comes with Bluetooth audio streaming and handsfree telephone operation. There are steering wheel mounted audio controls for the four-speaker sound system’s CD player, HD radio, auxiliary audio input jack and USB port for portable audio devices.
A 94 horsepower, 1.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine capable of 89 ft.-lbs. of torque generates power. A CVT is standard equipment for this entry on the list of high MPG 2012 cars.
While Ford offers the Fiesta in both hatchback and sedan formats, if you’re looking for the highest MPG version of the diminutive Ford, you’ll go with the sedan. Fun to drive, and possessing great cargo capacity in either configuration, the Ford is also nicely equipped, and quiet.
Long story short, the Ford Fiesta proves a car doesn’t have to be a depressingly boring tin box to be one of the 2012 best MPG cars.
Standard features for this entry on the list of best 2012 MPG cars include 15-inch steel wheels, a capless fuel filler, power mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a four-speaker AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary input jack and a USB port for portable audio devices, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.
The 120-horsepower, 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine generates 112 ft.-lbs. of torque to power the 2012 Fiesta. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission is optional.
All-new for 2012, the Toyota Prius c enjoys the distinction of being the highest MPG 2012 car you can buy in the U.S. One of the members of the newly spawned, highly prolific, and well-received Prius family of cars, the “c” in the new Toyota’s nomenclature stands for city.
Extremely well equipped for its class, the most basic Prius c comes equipped with an automatic climate control system, power windows, remote keyless entry, a folding rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth handsfree phone operation and audio streaming, in addition to a four-speaker sound system fed by a CD player as well as a USB/iPod interface for portable audio devices.
The diminutive model’s 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine is teamed with pair of electric motor/generators for a combined power output of 99 horsepower. This energy is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The granddaddy of all hybrids, the Toyota Prius Hatchback is the car most people envision when the word “hybrid” is spoken in their presence. By now, you should pretty well know the story; with terrific fuel economy, outstanding reliability, a broad array of standard features, a comfortable ride, and competent handling—Toyota’s Prius is basically the ultimate transportation appliance.
Standard equipment on the most elemental Prius Hatchback model includes an automatic climate control system, keyless start and entry, Bluetooth handsfree phone connectivity and audio streaming, alloy wheels, heated power exterior side-view mirrors, a rear window wiper, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, and a touchscreen electronics system monitor and interface. A six-speaker sound system with a head unit comprised of a CD player, an auxiliary input jack and an iPod/USB interface for portable audio devices completes the package.
Toyota’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine powers the Prius Hatchback in combination with a pair of electric motor/generators to send a total output of 134 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Thanks to its new styling language, a novel word can be applied to Hyundai’s offerings— beautiful. Called fluidic sculpture, the model upon which it looks best is probably the Sonata.
Redesigned for the 2011 model year, the Hyundai is a strong contender in its segment, as well as one of the best MPG cars for 2012.
Standard equipment includes keyless entry, Bluetooth handsfree telephone operation and audio streaming, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, heated mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a 60/40-split rear seatback, and a trip computer. The Sonata’s six-speaker sound system incorporates steering-wheel-mounted controls along with a CD player and a satellite radio receiver, plus an iPod/USB interface and an auxiliary input jack for portable audio devices..
The most fuel-efficient version of the Hyundai Sonata uses a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 198 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the GLS, while a six-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy is the same regardless of transmission choice.
Proving you can have a measure of luxury along with great fuel economy, the Audi A3 TDI offers outstanding craftsmanship, a beautiful interior treatment, and an engaging driving experience.
It is also one of the high MPG cars for 2012.
And, thanks to its diesel powerplant, the A3 TDI also offers remarkable performance.
Standard equipment on the diesel-powered A3 model includes dual-zone automatic climate control, alloy wheels, leather, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, fog lights, cruise control, and a 10-speaker sound system fed by a CD player, satellite radio, and an auxiliary audio input jack.
The 2012 Audi A3 TDI features a 140 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel producing 236 ft.-lbs. of torque.
Audi’s automated manual direct shift gearbox transmission (S tronic in Audi-speak) feeds the front wheels.
Everything we love about the VW Jetta combined with extra utility and carrying capacity makes the Jetta Sportwagen one of the best picks on this list of high MPG cars for 2012. Further, it’s fun to drive, handsome to look at, and nicely appointed.
Standard equipment for the base model Jetta SportWagen includes roof rails, keyless entry, heated mirrors, heated windshield-washer nozzles, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning, heated front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a split-folding rear seat, a trip computer, Bluetooth, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The VW Jetta SportWagen Diesel is powered by a 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder making 236 ft.-lbs. of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment; a six-speed direct shift gearbox automated manual transmission (known as DSG in VW-speak) is available as an option.
Anyone surprised to find yet another Prius on our list of the highest MPG cars for 2012 clearly hasn't been paying attention to the automotive segments over the last 12 years. Now that Toyota has broadened the Prius family, the model is dominating every segment it enters in terms of fuel economy. That the Toyota Prius is also well equipped, solidly reliable, and pleasant to drive are just icing on an already delicious high MPG cake.
Standard equipment on the base Prius v model includes an automatic climate control system, keyless start and entry, Bluetooth handsfree phone connectivity and audio streaming, alloy wheels, heated power exterior side-view mirrors, a rear window wiper, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a touchscreen electronics system monitor, and a six-speaker sound system with a head unit comprised of a CD player, an auxiliary input jack and an iPod/USB interface for portable audio devices.
The Toyota hybrid wagon’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine powers the Prius v in combination with a pair of electric motor/generators to send a total output of 134 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The 2012 Toyota Venza delivers the best fuel economy of all full-size station wagons. That it does so with considerable style is an additional point in its favor.
Based on the platform underpinning the perennially best selling Toyota Camry, Venza is an extremely versatile, reliable, and well-crafted vehicle. The Toyota delivers the elevated driving position SUV lovers crave, while still offering comfortable ingress, egress, cupholders, folding seats, and other stuff expected of a modern family auto.
One of the best MPG 2012 cars, the base model 2012 Toyota Venza comes equipped with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, alloy wheels, privacy glass, cruise control, and automatic headlamps. The model also features fog lights, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, and Bluetooth telephony with audio streaming. Venza’s basic sound system employs six speakers, a CD player, satellite radio, and an auxiliary audio input jack—as well as USB/iPod interface.
The base engine is Toyota’s 182-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 182 ft.-lbs. of torque. Its six-speed automatic transmission feeds the front wheels. All-wheel drive is available as an option.