Five top gas-saving (non-electric) cars

You can get excellent mileage for a hybrid or an electric, but automakers are still wringing good fuel economy from conventional engines. Here are five of the top gas-sippers.

Hybrid and electric cars turn in the best fuel economy numbers, but if you are not ready to trust that newfangled technology, here are five gasoline-driven cars that manage very good mileage. For this round-up, we stuck with recent models we have actually driven. Instead of focusing on the highway fuel economy number, which many automakers do in their advertising, we looked at the combined city and highway numbers.


2013 Chevrolet Spark
Despite the model name, the Spark does not use electric power at the wheels, instead making do with a little 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine. It won't go fast, but it will go.

EPA combined fuel economy: 34 mpg
CNET fuel economy: 34.8 mpg



2013 Dodge Dart
The Dart returns, sans slant-six, instead taking advantage of Fiat's Multiair technology in its turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, which regulates the intake valves independent of a camshaft.

EPA combined fuel economy: 32 mpg
CNET fuel economy: 30.8 mpg



2013 Nissan Sentra
Nissan's not-so-secret weapon in the fuel economy wars is its continuously variable transmission, which drives extremely well, and gives the Sentra's 1.8-liter engine an excellent combined mileage.

EPA combined fuel economy: 34 mpg
CNET fuel economy: not recorded



2012 Ford Fiesta
Ford's smallest car looks sharp and offers nicer cabin tech than most. Most importantly, it uses a dual-clutch transmission to help its 1.6-liter engine achieve mid-30s fuel economy.

EPA combined fuel economy: 33 mpg
CNET fuel economy: 31.9 mpg



2012 Scion iQ
Scion's ultracompact iQ has many advantages, such as fitting in tiny parking spots while being able to seat four. Its 1.3-liter engine and continuously variable transmission rated very high in EPA testing, but our driving proved too aggressive for good fuel economy.

EPA combined fuel economy: 37 mpg
CNET fuel economy: 28.1 mpg

Read the full CNET Review

2013 Chevrolet Spark

The Bottom Line: The 2013 Chevrolet Spark includes some intriguing features for its price, but bizarre limitations in the cabin electronics and low horsepower create too many compromises. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

2013 Dodge Dart

The Bottom Line: Dodge gives the 2013 Dart an excellent cabin tech suite, impressive for a compact car, but uneven acceleration makes the 1.4-liter engine upgrade a questionable choice. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

2013 Nissan Sentra

The Bottom Line: The 2013 Nissan Sentra serves as cheap transportation for urban areas, and offers connected navigation for greater convenience, but a weak engine and bland styling highlight its mundane nature. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

2012 Ford Fiesta

The Bottom Line: Sync and AppLink give the 2012 Ford Fiesta an impressive techie edge, while the body design and decent fuel economy lend to overall practicality, but the car does not punch above its class in comfort. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

2012 Scion iQ

The Bottom Line: With its compact size, the 2012 Scion iQ is excellent for cities, offering easy parking and good drivability. But harsh engine noise will make longer trips uncomfortable. / Read full review

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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