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DOE’s 10 Most Fuel Efficient Cars of 2012

If you think the all-electric Nissan Leaf is a super fuel-efficient car (on account of the fact that it doesn’t actually use any gas) you’d be right. But if you think it’s the most fuel-efficient 2012 model you can buy, you’d be wrong. That designation goes to the diminutive 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a mighty mouse of an all-electric car that gets the equivalent of 112 miles to the gallon.

Miles to the what? You heard right. To make sure that its list is able to evaluate gas cars, hybrid cars, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV) equally, the Department of Energy compared fuel costs with the assumption that a gallon of gas is equivalent to 33.7 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

It’s no surprise that the top fuel-sippers of 2012 don’t actually sip any fuel at all, or that there are no gas-only cars on the list, but here’s a breakdown of the top 10 so you clearly see how the rest of the best stack up.

1. Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Engine: EV

Mileage: City 126 / Highway 99 / Combined 112

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: 90 cents

Annual Fuel Cost: $540

2. Nissan Leaf

Engine: EV

Mileage: City 106 / Highway 92 / Combined 99

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.02

Annual Fuel Cost: $612

3. Ford/Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Van/Wagon

Engine: EV

Mileage: City 62 / Highway 62 / Combined 62

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.62

Annual Fuel Cost: $972

4. Chevy Volt*

Engine: PHEV

Mileage: City 58 / Highway 62 / Combined 60

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.08 (elec. only), $2.54 (gas only)

Annual Fuel Cost: $648 (elec. only), $1,524 (gas only)

* Individual driving habits, especially range, make it difficult to determine average fuel costs. As a result, the DOE has separated electricity and gas costs for the Volt.

5. Toyota Prius c

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 53 / Highway 46 / Combined 50

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.74

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,044

6. Toyota Prius

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 51 / Highway 48 / Combined 50

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.74

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,044

7. Honda Civic Hybrid

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 44 / Highway 44 / Combined 44

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.98

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,186

8. Toyota Prius V

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 44 / Highway 40 / Combined 42

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $2.07

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,243

9. Lexus CT 200h

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 43 / Highway 40 / Combined 42

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $2.07

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,243

10. Honda Insight

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 41 / Highway 44 / Combined 42

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $2.07

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,243

Do you drive one of the cars on this list? Let us know what kind of gas mileage you really get.


U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Transportation & Air Quality, “Fueleconomy.gov’s Top Ten

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