Prius Tops 2009 Fuel Economy Ratings

Toyota Prius width="383" height="350" />
Smart ForTwo width="224" height="174" />
Jetta Sportwagen TDI width="224" height="174" />

Left: Toyota Prius. Top Right: Smart ForTwo. Bottom Right: Jetta TDI Sportwagen.

The EPA and Energy Department this week issued its 2009 fuel economy guide. Hybrids, once again, dominate the top of the list with five of the six most efficient vehicles. The 2009 Toyota Prius is the leader with ratings of 48 mpg in the city and 45 on the highway.

There are two new entries on the Top 10 list: the diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta TDI sedan and wagon, and the Smart ForTwo convertible and coupe. The Smart ForTwo is number five on the list, with a rating of 33 mpg city and 41 highway. The Jetta diesels are now capable of passing strict emissions guidelines in all 50 states. The Jetta with a manual transmission is in the No. 7 spot with 30/41 mpg, followed by the automatic version at 20/40 mpg. The manual-transmission Toyota Yaris, and the automatic version, round out the Top 10 list.

The outlines of the 2009 list give a clear picture of the most effective fuel-efficiency strategies available today: hybrid gas-electric technology is at the forefront, followed by clean diesel and small cars.

Top 10 Fuel Economy List for 2009 Vehicles

  1. Toyota Prius – 48/45
  2. Honda Civic Hybrid – 40/45
  3. Nissan Altima Hybrid – 35/33
  4. Ford Escape Hybrid FWD; Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD; Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD – 34/31
  5. Smart ForTwo convertible; Smart ForTwo coupe – 33/41
  6. Toyota Camry Hybrid – 33/34
  7. Volkswagen Jetta (manual, diesel); Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen (manual, diesel) – 30/41
  8. Volkswagen Jetta (automatic, diesel); Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen (automatic, diesel) – 29/40
  9. Toyota Yaris (manual) – 29/36
  10. Toyota Yaris (automatic) – 29/35

  • Electric Bike Guy

    It’s nice to see so many vehicles in the 40+ mpg range. Yet, 100+ mpg isn’t unachievable. Come on automakers, let’s see some real innovation in design and technology!

  • hybridman2

    You’re right electric bike guy- I agree! We have the ability, just not the commitment.

    There’s a lot of new ideas that are coming up – over a hundred companies/individuals have signed up to compete in next years X-Prize for 100 MPG cars. I hope Detroit is listening…

  • Bryce

    Nice to see some diesel in there and some ICE. A bit inspiring that maybe hopefully everything is getting more efficient, so that we can bring fuel economy to the masses and get us off planet and nation killing oil. : )

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Where’s the Tesla Roadster? It totally blows away all the rest with an equivalent MPG of well over 100. I suspect there is something wrong with the rating system or the organization doing the ratings.

  • ALI F

    THINK ABOUT IT, if a major car company came out with 100+ mpg car right now, what do you think will happen to the rest of their fleet of vehicles? NO ONE WOULD BUY THEM! And what do you think will happen to all the cars out there that are just a few years old and get 1/4th the gas mileage? NO ONE WOULD WANT THEM! So the big automakers have to walk a fine line of how quickly they increase their fuel efficency so they do not alienate the consumption of their other line-up or the used car market. This way, it will keep everyone wanting more, and their cars will sell because they can increase efficency minimally each year and claim their cars are more evironmentally friendly then they were the previous year.
    Tesla can sell 100+mpg (equivalent) cars because thats all they sell! And I think huge auto companies sponsor this website… not small companies. So, ex-EV1 driver, thats my guess!

  • wxman

    I’m still baffled as to why the diesel-hybrid vehicles developed by the PNGV program were never put into production.

    The “Big 3″ U.S. auto companies all developed working mid-sized prototypes that achieved at least 72 mpg combined (gasoline equivalent), with the GM entry (the “Precept”) achieving 80 mpg combined (gasoline equivalent). Chrysler claimed their entry (the “ESX3″) could be mass-produced for about $7500 over an equivalent conventional production car.

    All that was accomplished was an interesting engineering experiment at tax payers’ expense.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with wxman, it is absolutely ludicrous that no US car maker released better production hybrids immediately after the completion of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program. That program should have produced a Prius killer.

    People keep complaining about how the Japanese government helps Toyota. Well, PNGV was yet another US government program that helped the big 3. Now 7+ years after the completion of the program US car makers still only have a tiny percentage of total hybrid sales. As far as I’m concerned PNGV was “who killed the electric car” version 2.0. All this effort and government research when into this program. The big 3 then failed to deliver any huge improvements to their fleet, using the same excuses (no one will buy it, it isn’t practical, etc.) All while Prius sales were taking off.

  • Gandalf

    Due to some technical problems Tesla has had to postpone delivery of its roadster.

  • steved28

    I like the fact that this report places stop/go type figures as the benchmark. I’m a little tired of manufacturers toting unrealistic numbers as if we all live on the ramp of a freeway.

  • Bryce

    These are all also mass-produced cars. Tesla, as far as I know, has delivered no more than about 50.

  • no name

    According to Toyota sources, they didn’t receive financial help from the Japanese government in developing Prius. They just had – and still have – a longer plan into the future than some other car companies.

  • Trains

    Electric Bike Guy: 100+ mpg is achievable? Based on what tests/facts/assumptions?

  • Bryce

    lol, they didn’t have a longer plan into the future, the Prius was a RESPONSE to the EV1. They did it because they thought they had to so that they could continue in the American market. It hadn’t been planned 20 years before or something that…..”one day, future CEO, you will build a hybrid car, and take a loss on it for 10 years until it is finally popular and profitable” lol I am sure a CEO would listen to that reasonable argument……ROFL

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Bryce,
    Nice excuse about mass-production. The Tesla Roadster is definitely in mass-production even if they haven’t achieved reached full-rate yet. I suspect that inability of the press to react to fast changes in the automotive landscape is more likely.

  • Eric Lefer

    Poor Americans! 40 mpg is average consumption in Europe. Check the last Citroen C1, it comes in 2 or 4 doors, with an average 60 mpg gas consumption. Same with the Peugeot 107, with 68.8 mpg in extra city conditions. Buy french, if you can…

  • RandalH

    With gasoline prices dropping like a rock (getting ready to pass below $2.50 / gallon where I’m at), our newspaper quoted a local Hummer dealer as having some of their best sales ever. Fuel economy may once again cease to be an important issue for most Americans. People have mentally adjusted to $4.00 / gallon and now $2.50 seems like a steal.

  • Dom

    The other weird thing about this list is how the cars are ranked. Best I can tell is they ranked them based on city mpg, because if you look at the highway mpg ratings, the list makes no sense. Unless it’s based on the average of city and highway, in which case it would be nice to see the average posted as well. I’m happy to see the TDIs back on the list!!

  • PLUG IN HYBRIDS GET 100+MPG

    PLUG IN HYBRIDS GET 100+MPG

  • GAS WILL BE 10$ GAL in 2 YEARS

    GAS WILL BE 10$ GAL in 2 YEARS, thank to CHINA AND INDIA AND OUR ECONOMY DEPRESSION

  • PLUG IN HYBRIDS 100+MPG OR DIE

    PLUG IN HYBRIDS 100+MPG OR DIE

  • PLUG IN HYBRIDS GET 100+MPG

    PLUG IN HYBRIDS GET 100+MPG

    GAS WILL BE 10$ GAL in 2 YEARS, thanks to CHINA AND INDIA AND OUR ECONOMY DEPRESSION.

  • Bryce

    um, I like plug-ins, but maybe caps isn’t the best way to express that love……in 4 separate posts. : )

  • SaturnOwner

    Geez.. how come my old saturn Sl2, 10 years old still acheive 35mpg on the highway and 28mpg in the city? I drive smootly but i am not one of theses bastard who drive at 30 in a 65mile zone!!

    I have made NO MODIFICATION at all!! Just taking good care of it and drivind the speed limit.

    I mean geez, my computer is running more than 10 times faster than my old computer was 10 years ago.. why is the fuel consumption has not dropped even by half?

    I think that is the real saving.. Insurance and monthly car payment savings. And a new cars pollute as much as 3 year of usage just to build them (energy and transport)

    Thanks for this great site!

  • EM

    Wish I could buy this now!
    http://www.hybridcars.com/concept-hybrids/chevy-volt-concept.html
    The hybrids drive so much worse (MPG-wise) than advertised – they really aren’t that impressive. Now a plug-in hybird – that is a car worth buying! I want my Volt

  • bunny

    i like cows

  • cowman101

    so do i man!

  • bunny

    i like cows more than you

  • cowman101

    no i do punk

  • bunny

    do u wanna go?

  • cowman101

    to the bathroom, yeah

  • Karkus

    Looks like they’re ordered by city MPG, which really doesn’t make much sense.
    Please order this list by combined MPG. It changes the list quite a bit. Thanks.

  • simon@syd

    Most of us drive in the city the whole time. In Australia, the official figures put too much weight on country driving. A nice advantage for our big 6 cylinder rear wheel drive fleet when it comes to looking at stickers on windscreens in car dealerships.

  • John Adams

    My 1990 Geo Prizm got 43 mpg. Not a hybrid. It was a chevy with a toyota engine. Technology has grown exponentially over the last 20 years. Yet, how have the U.S. auto manufacturers managed to regress on the mpg on the vehicles they produce today?

    It’s simple. They are in bed with the Oil Companies and they will continue to lose money until they produce vehicles with 40 + mpg.

    Americans are sick of being lied to. I purchased a new ford taurus. The gas cap had the logo of BP and it said Ford recommends BP gas for this vehicle. It’s sad. We’re either being raped by the ceo’s of the oil companies or the ceo’s of the auto manufacturers.