Prius tops in fuel efficiency for 2011 cars

The Fuel Economy Guide, produced by the EPA and Energy Department, still ranks the Toyota Prius first, but Ford, Mazda, and Mercury models are the most efficient SUVs.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read

The Toyota Prius has nabbed the top spot once again on the U.S. government's guide to fuel efficient cars.


Earning a rating of 51 miles per gallon for city driving and 48 mpg on the highway, the 2011 Toyota Prius was named the most fuel efficient vehicle by the Fuel Economy Guide 2011, which is produced jointly by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Mercury Milan Hybrid, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid tied for second place with all of them getting a fuel efficiency rating of 41 city mpg and 36 highway mpg. Honda's Civic Hybrid and Insight Hybrid models tied for third place getting a rating of 40 city mpg and 43 highway mpg.

"This year's Fuel Economy Guide will allow consumers to choose fuel efficient vehicles that will save them money at the pump, while helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and limiting carbon pollution," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement last week.

Beyond ranking simply the most fuel efficient cars, the guide also ranks the top cars by class and the least fuel efficient cars by class, this year adding sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and passenger vans to that breakdown.

Among SUVs the Ford Escape Hybrid FWD, Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD, and Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD all ranked at the top of the list getting an average rating of 34 city mpg/31 highway mpg.

The full guide is available on the FuelEconomy.gov Web site, which also offers a host of online tools for choosing a car based on fuel standards while including many other criteria.

The average 2011 Prius owner, for example, can estimate $861 in fuel costs per year based on a fuel price of $2.87 per gallon and a total of 15,000 annual miles, according to the guide.

But the Fuel Economy site also has a customizable tool that allows consumers to determine for themselves how each car will behave with them specifically at the wheel. It's based on input of gas prices, percentage of time driving in the city versus on the highway, average yearly miles, and whether the car gets regular or premium gasoline, or even E85. One can also compare personalized costs across various models.

While the site does list some all-electric vehicles, such as the Tesla Roadster, as currently available U.S. consumer cars, all-electric is not yet a category eligible for ranking. But it does rank cars using diesel and ethanol gas.