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They say they don’t make them like they used to, and while that may be debatable, American drivers have voted up older vehicles as the most fuel efficient.
Does this mean your next car might not be found at a dealer, but maybe instead somewhere like Craigslist?
Not sure on that either, but these scores come from the EPA’s “My MPG” program which is open to current models and one is a present-generation car, but winners on the scoreboard (updated weekly) are mainly older models. Nor is this a fluke, as these cars have tended to reside high up even if they do shift places from time to time.
The federal agency’s scoring is on a bit of an honor system, but these are averaged numbers by drivers registered with the EPA who say they’ve calculated their mpg. The EPA provides guidance on the procedure.
Perhaps it’s not a surprise these cars are ranked as they are. There are fan clubs for some of them, so it very well could be people are hanging onto them, carefully keeping them going, and reporting efficiency as a point of pride.
Not included in this tally are plug-in hybrids and electric cars as those score even higher by EPA reckoning. The list is open to regular hybrids and internal combustion models, with fuel sipper varieties scoring highest.
Also not included is even one car newer than a 2014 model year, so go figure. Or rather, maybe the people who care have gone and figured for you.
Following are the cars, their reported mpg, and combined official EPA mpg, as well as number of drivers for each car which tallied these averaged mpg scores.
5. 1999 Chevrolet Metro – 48.8 mpg (50 EPA)
Based on the data of 10 drivers, the venerable econobox derived from Geo/Suzuki heritage back to the early 80s is an oldie but a goodie, and number five on the EPA’s current list.
Surely the 1.0-liter 3-cylinder naturally aspirated mill driving the car is a keeper, as it’s been the choice for Elio Motors development mules, though now that startup is developing its own engine based on it with updates.
4. 1990-91 Honda Civic CRX HF 48.8 mpg (37 EPA)
Long before the CR-Z hybrid was its spiritual progenitor, Honda’s CRX non-hybrid – a two-seater, sporty hatchback line from the 80s and 90s.
These came in various flavors of tune from the mid-level to the hot by the times standard, Si, and the HF for high fuel efficiency.
It’s this latter with 1.5-liter four cylinder paired with manual five speed that has fans telling the EPA about it to this day.
The average is based on 13 drivers, and this car is right there with a 2015 Prius hybrid’s official rating, says these drivers.
Its official number however is much less.
3. 1990-94 Geo Metro 50.4 (47 EPA)
We can almost hear a collective hybrid-schmybrid, as 20 drivers holding onto these 20-25-year-old naturally aspirated three-bangers with a motorcycle-like displacement of 1.0-liters and five speed say their mpg beats the Prius.
Even the EPA said the car got an adjusted 47 mpg (EPA rules used to be easier and back then and the car was rated higher).
2. 2012-14 Toyota Prius – 51.1 mpg (50 EPA)
OK, never mind the cracks about hybrids (here at HybridCars.com). The world’s best-selling hybrid does make the list, and 50 drivers averaging to 51.1 mpg can’t be wrong.
Actually, they could be wrong, but Toyota’s 1.8-liter full hybrid system is known to make its EPA numbers, and 51.1 is only 1.1 above the official figure.
Drivers have been known to get above this when careful, and not driving them hard. This is a current generation-three car. Its replacement is due later this year, and has been seen road testing.
1. 2004-2006 Honda Insight – 71.4 mpg (52 EPA)
Whoa – 71.4 mpg – and this is the average of 15 drivers reporting what they they get. Some reported higher, some lower, but this is a testament to the original hybrid’s first generation.
The first Honda Insight, a 2000 model, was launched late 1999 in the U.S. ahead of the 2000 Prius and these two-passenger cars with faired-in rear wheels and 3-cylinder, 1.0-liter hybrid powertrains with five-speed manual transmission were all business. A CVT was also introduced in 2001, but the record car here is a manual.
Curb weight was a paltry 1,847 pounds. The hybrid system was the origination of Honda’s IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) using a pancake motor on the crankshaft to help the engine along.
A 144-volt battery pack was comprised of commercial “D” sized NiMH cells and the ECU managed the car’s operation.
The Insight was manufactured alongside the Acura NSX and S2000 in Suzuka. It was a leap forward for Honda, and IMA has been nursed along to this year, but appears due for retirement even as the originals get a reported 21 mpg better than the 2015 Prius.