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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.

2013 Chevrolet Spark
Josh Miller/CNET

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