3. BMW 328d
Similar positive attributes delivered by the Golf – but more of them – are offered by the highly effective 328d, albeit at a higher price.
The only compact-class diesel sedan sold by the upscale German brands, it has the same displacement and cylinder count as the Golf – a 2.0-liter turbo diesel four-cylinder – and it’s rated at 180 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque.
The 328d replaced last year’s thirstier 335d, and comes with an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission which can be operated like a manual with paddle shifters.
For the extra outlay, it offers higher quality materials, upscale design and prestige in a comfortable car.
The rear-wheel-drive version starts in the upper 30s, and the 328d is also available in an all-wheel-drive xDrive version from the low 40s.
EPA rating for rear-wheel-drive is 32 city, 45 highway, 37 combined, and the AWD is 31 city, 43 highway, 35 combined.
Granted diesel fuel costs more, but highway mpg for the rear-wheel-drive 328d is just 6 mpg less than America’s most efficient hybrid, the Prius, and its 37 combined make it the second-most fuel-efficient non-hybrid sold in America.
What’s the only non-hybrid that’s more efficient? A basic transportation subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage ecomobile, and this is a gauge of just how much more car the BMW is with not much lower mpg.
Of course BMW’s M-series, and six-cylinder versions are faster, and the ActiveHybrid3 is also, but the 328d is an amazing balance of price for performance with much of what traditionalists prize in a “driver’s car” and no excuses needed.