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Saving gas: Most fuel-efficient new cars 4/12
(This article is adapted from the April 2012 Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue)

Gas prices are going up again. So if you’re in the market for a new car, check out the list (below) of the 13 best new car choices for overall fuel economy.

Measuring fuel economy is one of the key tests in Consumer Reports' vehicle testing program. Consumer Reports' fuel economy numbers come from measurements using a precision flow meter and are rounded to the nearest mile per gallon (mpg). Overall miles per gallon numbers are calculated from equal portions of city and expressway driving, and on a 150-mile trip.

Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are new categories for 2012, with models that lead all others in fuel economy. Hybrids and diesels continue to provide much better fuel economy than similar-sized conventional vehicles.

The list below combines scores both for highway and city driving. (All models tested have an automatic transmission unless otherwise noted.)

Nissan Leaf ( electric) 106 mpg equivalent
Chevrolet Volt ( plug-in hybrid) 61 mpg –combined electric & gas operation
Toyota Prius (hybrid) 44 mpg
Toyota Prius V (hybrid) 41 mpg
Honda Civic Hybrid 40 mpg
Lexus CT 200h (hybrid) 40 mpg
Smart ForTwo 39 mpg
Honda Insight EX (hybrid) 38 mpg
Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE 38 mpg
Volkswagen Golf TDI (diesel, manual) 38 mpg
Volkswagen Gold TDI SE (diesel) 37 mpg
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI (diesel, manual) 36 mpg
Honda CR-Z EX (hybrid, manual) 35 mpg

There are additional lists of fuel-efficient vehicles – including SUVs—showing models that did well within different size categories. For example, a vehicle that gets 19 mpg would not be a standout overall, but it would be among the highest mpg’s in the midsized SUV or minivan categories.

Also, depending on where you often drive, you may want to look at cars that do best on highways versus those that are more fuel-efficient in stop-and-go city traffic.

Related links

Consumer Reports Guide to fuel economy.

Consumer Reports Guide to alternative fuels.

Consumer Reports Car news blog.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency website.

Where to find the cheapest gas. 4/10

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