With all the new technology that is being loaded into them – and increasingly as standard – cars are not getting any cheaper. While the cost of hybrids and electric cars is set to fall as battery technology improves, regular gasoline cars are generally more costly. This means that you have to strike a better balance of costs in any way that you can.
One way to do that is to choose cars that are in the more affordable bracket to start with, but also to lower running costs by ensuring that they are incredibly fuel-efficient. In today’s blog, I am looking at affordable new cars that offer above-average gas mileage.
Next to each vehicle’s subheading below, you’ll see three numbers, which represent the gas mileage for the city, highway, and combined, as estimated by the EPA. Most of the vehicles are hybrids (non plug-in) as you might expect, but I’ve included several non-hybrid cars for those who want the full gasoline-engine experience. Let’s take a closer look:
The 10 Cheapest New Cars with Good Gas Mileage
1. Hyundai Ioniq – 58/60/59
MSRP from $23,400
In a marketplace that has long been dominated by the likes of the Toyota Prius when it comes to affordability and mileage, Korean auto giant Hyundai is now emerging as a market leader. The Ioniq Blue not only offers incredible fuel economy, but at under $24,000 for a starting MSRP, this one of the more affordable sedan options out there. It’s a whole $4500 cheaper than its plug-in sibling.
Furthermore, the Ioniq feels more at home on the highway than the Prius does. Where people have long believed that owning a hybrid car means lowering one’s expectations in performance, the Ioniq Blue is doing a lot to raise them back up again.
2. Hyundai Elantra Hybrid – 52/56/54
MSRP from $23,750
Another offering from Hyundai, but this time the larger Elantra sedan, which offers similar efficiency to the Ioniq but with a longer, sleeker body and sharper lines. The Elantra and the Ioniq both use the same 1.6L 4-cylinder engine, which is a big part of what offers excellent fuel economy.
The Elantra Hybrid Blue trim offers an FWD drivetrain and up to 139-hp and 195 lb-ft of torque in total, which is quite decent in the hybrid bracket. It comes with hands-free smart trunk release, blind spot collision-avoidance assistance system, and heated front seats as standard features. The infotainment system also maintains a pleasing balance of buttons, dials and touchscreen features, which many users appreciate.
3. Toyota Corolla Hybrid – 53/52/52
MSRP from $23,650
The 2022 Corolla Hybrid from Toyota continues to be affordable and popular, offering standard features such as both Eco and Power driving modes, a 7-inch TT multi-information display for the driver, and a smart key system with push-button start. It’s powered by a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine and FWD drivetrain offering up to 121-hp and 105 lb-ft of torque.
The infotainment screen is 8 inches as standard and compatible with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Even better is the impressive fuel economy that helps this car just keep going. It’s no wonder that the Corolla has been consistently among the best-selling sedan marques in the US. It’s smart, comfortable, and efficient, with plenty of space for all and a price tag comfortable under $24,000.
4. Kia Niro LX Hybrid – 53/48/50
MSRP from $24,690
If it’s a crossover/SUV you want, then they don’t come at a much better value than the Kia Niro LX hybrid model, which even for an SUV starts at just over the $24,000 threshold. It’s powered by a 1.6L 4-cylinder engine with 6-speed automatic and FWD drivetrain. The futuristic front grille and lights, as well as nice detailing additions like a small rear spoiler, make the Niro LX hard to resist.
It rides on 16-inch wheels as standard, with LED daytime running lights, projector beam headlights with auto light control, heated rear window, roof rails, wireless smartphone connectivity to both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, USB ports, cruise control, and a special drive mode with paddle shifters for those who want to feel the performance more keenly.
5. Toyota Prius Eco – 58/53/56
MSRP from $24,525
For more than 2 decades, the Toyota Prius has led the pack in value, economy, and efficiency when it comes to hybrid cars. While others are catching up fast, especially Korean giants like Hyundai and Kia, Toyota continues to offer affordable efficiency in the form of its Prius Eco in 2022. It has been edged out by Hyundai in total gas mileage, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers estimated by the EPA as anything but fantastic.
What most seem to object to with the Prius is the unusual shape. If that doesn’t bother you, then you can focus on the great features like LED daytime running lights, the smart key system and push-button start, as well as the smart-flow climate control and pollen filtration systems. There’s a backup camera display, easy smartphone connectivity, hill-start assist, and Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 package offering great ADAS and safety features. Even better is the 24.6 cubic feet of cargo space with all the seats up.
6. Honda Insight – 55/49/52
MSRP from $25,210
After the Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight is the hybrid with the next-longest history. Although it’s priced slightly higher, it offers a more conventional executive sedan shape that has helped to make it a popular option, while still offering very impressive gas mileage numbers. It has a smaller cargo space since it lacks the hatchback style of the Prius, but the somewhat grander scale and design of the Insight give it near universal appeal.
It’s also rare for any sedan of this size and scale to offer gas mileage over 50-mpg. What’s more, the engine is among the more powerful in the hybrid category. The 1.5L 4-cylinder unit outputs up to 151-hp and runs with an electronic CVT with Sport Mode as the transmission unit. The combined power makes the Insight a competent and enjoyable ride on any road type.
7. Toyota Camry Hybrid LE – 51/53/52
MSRP from $27,380
This the most expensive on my list today, but with a price tag comfortably under $30,000 and still packing in plenty of features and 50+ mpg gas mileage, the Camry Hybrid in 2022 is an impressive offering. It’s spacious, comfortable, and styled in luxurious executive fashion, but at the same time is also practical and the perfect choice for those looking for a commuter car that doubles up as a great family car.
With all gas mileage numbers climbing north of 50-mpg, and standard features including dual-zone climate control, smart key and push-button start, and even 4 drive modes: EV, Eco, Normal and Sport, the Camry Hybrid packs a whole lot into that price. It’s also powered by a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine and electronic CVT with FWD drivetrain. Total power with hybrid features reaches 208-hp.
8. VW Golf – 29/39/33
MSRP from $23,195
The first non-hybrid to make it into today’s list is the VW Golf. It’s a small car, but with even city driving offering close to 30-mpg, it’s a great option for those who spend a lot of time behind the wheel in urban areas, but need a car that can handle distance comfortably as well. The Golf is actually a surprisingly powerful car, with a 147-hp 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed manual transmission.
For some, driving a stick might not be an option, but if you don’t mind that, you can enjoy up to 53 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats down, which is even more than you get in a Ford Escape. It’s also reliable, efficient, attractive, and fun to drive. From the 2022 model year, only the Golf R and Golf GTI models are available, making regular 2021 regular Golf models cheaper.
9. Honda Accord – 30/38/33
MSRP from $24,970
Another Japanese offering from 2021 that’s one to rival the Toyota Camry is the base-level Honda Accord. It’s powered by a 1.5L 192-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with a CVT. It takes you north of $24,000, but you get a lot of car for that price, and with highway driving rated at 38-mpg, it’s an ideal commuter, while retaining 30+ mpg even when in the city.
It’s one of the most highly rated sedans anywhere on the market, and was refreshed in 2021 with new front-end styling, new wheel designs, and new chrome accents throughout. The interior gets an 8-inch infotainment display, 2 USB ports in the front, and smartphone compatibility for Android and Apple systems – though you have to get higher trims (EX-L or above) to enjoy these in wireless mode.
10. VW Jetta – 30/41/34
MSRP from $18,995
No, you didn’t read that price tag wrong! This is a VW sedan model with all gas mileage numbers north of 30-mpg, and a price tag comfortably south of $20,000. It’s powered by a 1.4L turbocharged engine and boasts lower maintenance costs even than those of the super reliable Toyota Corolla. It’s another car paired with a 6-speed manual as standard, but you can upgrade to an 8-speed automatic with a price increase to $20,790.
Regardless of which configuration you pick, the base model still offers 30-mpg in the city, and 41-mpg on the highway, which is a great rating for a gasoline-only sedan car. On top of that, you get the executive stylings of a VW sedan, along with high levels of reliability and generally low running costs. This is an efficient car that is genuinely affordable all along the line.