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Fuel Efficient Used Car Buying Guide

By: StaffSeptember 6, 20213 min

Finding a fuel efficient used car that matches your lifestyle is not as simple as buying the vehicle with the best MPG – If it were, we would all be riding around in the Toyota Prius. The problem is that your needs do not always match the car with the best fuel economy and there is not a lot of buying guides that touch on the different types of fuel efficient cars: hybrids, electric cars, diesel powered vehicles, and regular gas-powered cars. Sure, if you are a single unattached, professional with a moderate commute, then a compact car is an obvious choice. But if you have a growing family, or need a vehicle for both work and personal use, your options may not be as obvious.

Hybrid/Electric Used Car Options

If you are concerned about fuel economy and practicality, today’s hybrids offer an array of choices. Whether you are looking for a compact car, full-size sedan, or SUV, some top hybrid/electric options include:

  • Ford Escape Hybrid: As the most fuel efficient SUV on the market, the Ford Escape Hybrid is an excellent choice for the driver searching for versatility.
  • Toyota Prius: Offering 48 MPG, the affordably priced Prius is roomy enough to match the needs of the small, on-the-go family.
  • Ford Fusion Hybrid: Other hybrids do offer better fuel economy; but, if you are looking for a family sedan, few compete in terms of room, driving dynamics and comfort.
  • Nissan Leaf: The Leaf runs completely on electricity, traveling as far as 106 miles on a single charge.
  • Chevrolet Volt: By only using electricity for the first 40 miles before switching to gasoline, the Chevrolet Volt is one of the most fuel efficient cars on the market.

Diesel Powered Used Car Options

Accounting for nearly 50% of all Europe’s car sales thanks to their good fuel economy, diesel powered cars are no longer the loud smog producers of yesteryear. Instead, these clean quiet engines offer around 30-35% more per gallon over comparable gas powered engines. Even better, the U.S government offers a tax incentive on qualifying diesel engines:

  • Golf TDI: Boasting 42 MPG highway, the Golf offers an easy-load hatchback design and sporty suspension.
  • Jetta SportWagen TDI: With seating for five and extra cargo space, the Jetta SportWagen is a more than capable family car.
  • BMW 335d: The 335d is proving that fuel economy does not have to come at the expense of refinement.
  • Audi A3 TDI: Priced just $1,500 higher than the gasoline powered A3, but offering a 10 MPG bump in fuel economy, this is one of the most attractive diesel cars available.
  • BMW X5 Diesel: With an EPA estimated 22 MPG, diesel power has helped make this heavyweight, luxury SUV a more practical choice. 

Gas Powered Used Car Options

If your only concern is fuel economy, there are a number of lightweight compact and subcompact gas powered cars that offer over 40 MPG Highway:

  • Chevy Cruz Eco: A low retail price and 42 MPG highway make the gasoline powered Eco an attractive option.
  • Ford Fiesta SE SFE: A lightweight design contributes to this gasoline powered cars EPA rating of 29 MPG city and 40 MPG highway.
  • Ford Focus SFE: With a roomy interior, the Focus offers the appeal of fuel efficiency and comfort.
  • Hyundai Elantra: The Elantra offers the appeal of both fuel economy and a low starting price.
  • Smart Fortwo: With its unique two passenger design, the tiny Fortwo is sure to turn heads.

Practical Fuel Saving Tips

Buying a new car is not always practical. Below are a few tips for improving your current car’s gas mileage:

  • Observe Speed limit: On average, gas mileage decreases at speeds over 60 mph.
  • Stop Idling: Not turning your car off when it is parked can waste up to half a gallon of gasoline an hour.
  • Inflate Tires: You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by properly inflating your tires.
  • Change Air Filter: While a new study from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory suggests that the air filter has little effect on the MPG of newer cars, replacing a clogged air filter on older cars can help improve fuel economy by up to 6%.
  • Remove Excess Weight: According to, for every hundred pounds you haul, your fuel economy can decrease by 2%.
  • Know the Area Gas Prices: With this gas price finder, you can hunt for the lowest prices in your area.

Remember, the key to saving money at the pump starts with the right research. By focusing on lifestyle and fuel economy, you’ll get a car that will meet your needs while helping you save.


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