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Meet the 40 MPG Club Posts: 10,059
edited September 2014 in General

imageMeet the 40 MPG Club

Just as gas prices reach record highs, we review the ranks of the most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars you can buy. These cars get 40 mpg on the highway and range from family sedan to wacky runabout.

Read the full story here



  • landriclandric Posts: 0
    I find it interesting that fuel economy has become an issue again and cars getting 40+ MPG are suddenly newsworthy, despite the fact that cars that get 40+ MPG have been available for decades.

    My 1999 Saturn SL2 was rated at 38 MPG highway, but regularly got 40+ MPG in solid highway driving. It had most of the safety features we expect today, ABS, traction control, airbags (though front driver and passenger only, no side airbags). It had a reasonable amount of power with its DOHC 16v 1.9 liter engine and 5-speed manual. IIRC the '99 SL1 with its SOHC engine was rated at 40 MPG with a manual.

    In high school I had a 1986 Nissan Sentra XE that regularly got 40+ MPG on the highway, with an 8 valve 1.6 liter engine and 5-Speed.

    I know the EPA revamped the way it did testing and that resulted in MPG rating drops pretty much across the board. However, the ability to make vehicles that get 40+ MPG is not new technology. While I hate the rising gas prices, perhaps they will shift the focus of the US car buying market from big engines and big vehicles to smaller vehicles and better fuel economy.

    These new vehicles are a step back in the right direction, its a shame that we stepped away from that direction in the first place though, or who knows how much better fuel economy would be now.
  • What I find amusing (read: annoying) is that the technology has been there a LONG time. Why is it that in the early 90s Honda was making cars getting 35/44 but no one can seem to achieve this anymore? I had a 93 Honda Civic that even at 16 years old was still getting 33 MPG. Where did this technology go?
  • landriclandric Posts: 0
    I think it went into added weight, more options, and more power. Gas was so inexpensive until 2003 or 2004 that no one was concerned about mileage; bigger engines and more creature comforts were more important. Now companies are struggling to make cars as efficient as they once were, but with all the added features of today's vehicles. IMO, If gas mileage had remained important throughout the 90's we would be a lot further along on highly efficient engines that we are. Its a shame that it would now be cheaper if cars ran on milk rather than gasoline, but where I live a gallon of gas is $3.759 and a gallon of milk is $3.38.
  • For the last 10 years the Toyota Prius has had an EPA sticker over 40 MPG and it is entirely gasoline powered. I am not sure how you missed it. Various other hybrid cars also exceed 40 MPG.

    I can see ruling out the cars that plug in, like the Leaf and the Volt, but the Prius and most hybrids are entirely gas powered.
  • willybrankwillybrank Posts: 1
    With gas at 4 bucks a gallon there is no doubt these fuel sippers will make their mark (and make or break an auto company for that matter). Looks there is a good amount of manufacturers hitting the 40 plus mark:
  • dcmangandcmangan Posts: 1
    This was a very informative article on new 40+ mpg cars. Thank you for writing it.
  • wayhewwayhew Posts: 1
    The disingenuousness of the auto industry in meeting the needs of a supposedly fuel-starved planet is astounding. Here at Edmunds (and, well, everywhere else, for that matter), they've got the practice of short-term-memory and long-term-forgetfulness down to a real science.

    When I was in high school and college, mid-late 70's, the economy cars were getting 30, 35, 40 mpg. This was for cars like the Chevette, Pinto, Le Car, Civic. Conventional engines; not hybrids.

    Today, even hybrids that get over 40 mpg are so few you can count them on one hand. There's something very fishy here. The things that they're working on in car design are not the things that increase economy of operation, that's for sure. Today's cars are faster than they need to be, more luxurious than they need to be.

    But they don't get the gas mileage that they should be getting in the 21st Century.
  • I have a 2010 Honda CIVIC LX-S and after an engine break in period and 10,000 miles am happy to report that my 2010 Honda Civic LX-S is getting me a combined 43.33 MPG !
    I can only wonder how much higher this figure would be if I drove this car only on the freeway (with no stop and go traffic).
    In addition, I used to drive a 1990 Toyota Camry V-6, and I remember when that car would get me up to 32 MPG using the "original" gasoline (no ethanol on those early years). After the EPA MANDATED the fuel to be "oxigenated" the fuel mileage WORSENED by the same percentage of the blend on the gasoline (-10 %). I also wonder how much better this fuel mileage would be on this 2010 Civic if "TRUE" gasoline were used.
    I'm still happy to get the 43.33 MPG (CONSISTENTLY) on this car!

    Are the people @ Honda keeping this fact about the 2010 Civic as a "little secret"?
  • Try adding the Nissan Altima 2.5SL. I have had my Nissan for about 2 months now. It get about 50mpg on the highway and 40+mpg in the city (unless i'm racing a charger or something) I have 177HP 6Spd Manual; and enough seating room to comfortably fit 4-5 people over 6' 5" tall in the front and back. unlike the prius where you sit with your head cocked over if your over 5' 8".
  • allanndeallannde Posts: 1
    I don't understand the message behind this article. The claim is that new non hybrid cars in the "40mpg club" are serious competition for the Prius. These cars are commendable indeed, but their overall mpg counting city driving is in the low 30s mpg while my 2006 Prius has an overall lifetime average of almost 50 mpg (49.16 mpg).

    That isn't even close.

    My Prius does not give up quality, utility, interior space, comfort or reasonable performance to accomplish that. It absolutely amazes me that I am unable to find another make of a new car which competes with my used car after five years. There should be a selection of competing cars by now.
  • Thanks Edmunds! The fuel savings of a hybrid didn't outweigh the saving in gas when I choose my last car. These cars provide more driving enjoyment without the cost, complexity and envrionmental concerns during production and at their end of life. Electricy also creates pollution especially coal fired power plants and the nuclear plants with build up waste and no place to store it. Water power is very clean.
    There will be something better than the internal combustion engine but I don't know what it is yet. I do know hybrids todays best technologies like lithium ion batteries are heaver and slower than my car. Are hybrids really green?
  • clachnitclachnit CaliforniaPosts: 35
    We appreciate the comments you're posting here, everyone -- keep them coming! There's a real balancing act going on here between what drivers expect from their cars in terms of power and amenities and what they're willing to pay to fuel those cars. It affects what people will buy -- what car makers build. The advent of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs is making things even more interesting, as is the push for ever-higher fuel economy standards. We're covering all those developments with an eye towards helping drivers decide what car is right for them. Let us know how we're doing.

    -- Carroll Lachnit, features editor, Edmunds
  • mo_bmo_b Posts: 1
    I am driving a "1995 Honda Civic" that gets between 39 and 43 miles per gallon averaging 70 to 85 miles per hour on the interstate, when noone is in the way !! Notice that I said it's a '95 so it's 16 years old. The car has 237,000 miles on it and even when loaded so that you can't see out of the rear window and there's no room left in the trunk, and it has roof racks to haul whitewater canoes on it, and it still gets 37 mpg under those conditions!!
    The engineers need to revisit the old drawing boards, instead of reinventing the fuel efficient car. The '95 civic is not cutting edge technology!
  • I have a 2011 Ford Fiesta Hatchback SE Auto , it gets great MPG bought new Feb/2011 averages 36.7 to 42.9 going to work city/highway
  • c_rittc_ritt Posts: 1
    I have had my 2012 Elantra for about 1200 miles. i have watched what the computer puts up form my avg mpg, but get something different when doing the math at the pump. I drive 90% of my daily trip to work above 55 mph and less than 75 mph. I set the cruise control about 98% of the time. My computer will say that I average around 36 mpg. When i do the math at the pump... i am sligtly over 31 mpg. The only time i notice anything about the Elantras mpg, is when i reset my trip, at a full tank, and monitor the gas odometer bars. For the first bar, i got about 40 miles. For the 2nd bar i got about 36. for the 3rd bar, I got about 30. I was getting less and less mpg the more i drove. This is a far cry from the sticker of 40 mpg hwy and 29 mpg city. The other wierd thing is that my avg speed is 40 mph. It hasnt moved since the 300 mile mark. I have already taken the elantra to get serviced because my gear was sticking in park and neutral. Now i am going to have to take it back to check the computer. This will be the third time to get service in less than a month of having a new automobile. The elantra looks cool and has some nice features, but for the reason I bought it (MPG)...i am not impressed.
  • cajunajmcajunajm Posts: 1
    Europe has cars that achieve 50+mpg and they'll blow the doors off of the cars here in the US.... Turbo Diesel Injected... My wife's Ford KA got better than 46mpg [averaged city/highway]; Ambulances there use 2.0L engines....and we're supposed to be happy with 30 & 40mpg???????????????????????????????????
    What a scam !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111
  • riffdexriffdex Posts: 1
    Its hard to take this article seriously when in starts out with such a statement. My dad used to regularly get 40 mpg from his cars back in the 80s. He's not one to exaggerate. He also currently drives a '91 ford escort 5 speed and is getting 40 mpg highway. Its a shame how little progress has been made in the last 30 years on MPG.
  • bryceinstlbryceinstl Posts: 1
    for wayhew:
    nothing disingenuous about it...
    the cars you cite had little or no emissions equipment, A/C, cruise, moonroof, power anything, airbags, crash standards...shall I go on? All of the above takes a toll on fuel economy. Would we be willing to give these features up? Not bloody likely! Your premise is false.
  • njmike731njmike731 Posts: 1
    Its been a year since wayhew made his comment below regarding the disingenuous (or should we say obfuscation of the issue) market position regarding fuel efficient vehicles. They continue to throw vehicles into the consumer arena with a halfhearted attempt to truly provide a solution to our hurting wallets. I too remember the 1970's and have lamented for decades that we as a country didn't take up the mantle of being the leader in ultra fuel efficient or alternative energy cars. It sickens me that low gas prices, and corporate greed (not to mention doing whats easy instead of whats hard) kept us way behind on this issue. And so the chickens came home to roost - we now have very high gas prices sucking the lifeblood out of hard working Americans. Too late. Its great to see more vehicles getting better mileage but come on, lets not be lulled into thinking the car industry hasn't been dragged in this direction kicking and screaming. Such low expectations, and whiny baby tactics on the part of the industry has really put us behind the 8-Ball. Playing catch up as usual when we could have lead. It continues to sicken me that politicians still side with corporate America that doing whats right for the environment, for the people of our country is somehow going to put them out of business. Bull Crap.
  • truc65truc65 Posts: 2
    the problem with the prius is the most hybrids, you may never make up the difference in cost with the mpg's.
  • truc65truc65 Posts: 2
    i find it amazing that with all of the "breakthroughs" and advancements that we're not breaking the 70 mpg barrier. i had a '98 civic hx that got 40 in the city and 45 freeway with a downtuned ex v-tech engine. the ex had 140 hp and the hx had 125...tell me they couldn't use their advancements over the last decade to increase that mpg to at least 55.
  • priusispoison - 50 MPG on the highway? By "about 50mpg" on the highway you mean about 30?
  • cygnus_x1cygnus_x1 Posts: 11
    wayhew, those cars from the 70's weighed around 2,000 lbs and the Chevette actually weighed under a ton. The EPA rated car mileage differently back then too, everyone knew you couldn't get close to the EPA rating on the sticker. Also remember, a 1976 Chevette did 0-60 in 19.6 seconds...they were barely drive-able.
    Cars are much heavier now due to the extra power, larger sizes, safety standards, and added luxuries but they actually achieve their EPA rating.
    If they could legally make a 2,000 lb Prius it would probably get 100mpg.
  • duck87duck87 Posts: 649
    @wayhew: Rather than anything nefarious, it's actually relatively simple to explain. Those mileage figures you quoted are using outdated fuel economy test schemes, for which older vehicles are generally overrated (this is still a problem mind you). Modern
  • Hate to break it to ya, Edmunds, but my '09 Corolla S consistently achieves 40 mpg on the highway. More than that, though, is that while the MSRP gap between compacts and sedans is so thin, it's almost crazy to buy a compact for the sake of saving a couple of grand when you consider many sedans are getting upwards of 40 mpg highway, as well. Isn't the new Altima rated at 38 mpg highway? Given that compacts and sedans are nearly equal in price and fuel economy, the most glaring reason to have a compact is the size of one's garage, or perhaps where one needs to drive it. If this trend continues, my next ride will most likely be a sedan: more for the money and about as good of fuel mileage, to boot.
  • emajoremajor Posts: 332
    Another recycled article on "What's Hot"? And all it does is quote EPA ratings as if they are always reflected in the real world. This would be more useful, interesting, and "Hot" if you had done an actual mileage test on some of these cars. You know, the kind of thing you used to do before you got reabsorbed by the Edmunds corporate blob.
  • aznableaznable Posts: 3
    I like how insideline was replaced with edmunds whats hot, which posts tripe like this.

    Thanks, Edmunds. This kind of fluff is why I don't have a bookmark for your site anymore.
  • 1free11free1 Posts: 1
    We've owned our 2012 Chevy Cruze Eco 6 speed manual since December 2011, and with over 50,000 miles on it, it has been getting between 42 to 44 miles per gallon on a regular basis since we purchased it. My wife uses this primarily as a commuter car for work and school and we are quite happy with this car, which has many more features and far better fuel mileage than the 34 mpg 2007 Nissan Versa it replaced. At close to $20,000 less than a Prius and without the expensive batteries and Toyota recalls, we are very glad to have made the choice of purchasing this fun to drive vehicle and highly recommend it.
  • You don't make any comment about the power adequacy
  • poemtreepoemtree Posts: 1
    wayhew, nothing fishy. The new engines are better and more efficient, and much, much cleaner. The enemy of MPG (other than driver habits) is weight. Modern crash test standards add much weight to new cars, which greatly offset the benefits of newer engines and transmissions.
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