Most efficient cars for August 2022

This story is part The Cost of Climate ChangeCNET’s coverage of how climate change impacts a range of financial issues.

In addition to being one of the most expensive purchases you can make, a car is the one that will most significantly affect a family’s carbon footprint. It’s not just about the cost of the car itself – you should also take into account the fuel cost and the greenhouse gases issued during the lifetime of the vehicle.

We’ve compiled this list of the most efficient cars, with input from our colleagues at roadshow team. We consider the fuel efficiency ratings published by the Environmental Protection Agency and use their efficiency conversion formula to see how electric vehicles stack up against gasoline alternatives.

It is worth noting at the outset that smaller cars are generally more efficient than larger ones, but we have included the trucks and SUVs that are the most fuel efficient in their class. And while hybrid and electric vehicles tend to be priced higher, financial incentives available at the federal and state levels can make them considerably more affordable. And that’s before lower fuel costs.

The cars listed here are arranged in descending order of overall efficiency, with the top tier populated by electric vehicles. After that, we have plug-in hybrids, which can run on fuel or electricity. And then pure hybrids, which require fuel and electricity.

all-electric vehicles


2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus

fuel economy: 150 mpge city, 133 mpge highway, 142 mpge combined
Vary: 263 mile battery only

The most efficient EV currently on sale by the biggest name in the game. But the Tesla is about more than just sleek, on-trend design. It also has one of the longest driving ranges in its class.

See More information: Tesla Model 3 review

Craig Cole/Roadshow

fuel economy: 119 mpge city, 100 mpge highway, 110 mpge combined
Vary: 114 mile battery only

The Mini Cooper SE is one of the most affordable electric vehicles on the market. The price is $29,900 plus delivery, but when you factor in the full federal tax credit and possible state and local incentives, you can own one for well under $20,000. There is a problem, of course: it has limited range.

See More information: Mini Cooper SE review

Plug-in hybrid vehicles


fuel economy: 92 mpg city, 79 mpg highway, 86 mpg combined
Vary: 126 mile battery only, 200 mile total

To reassure anxious buyers about its range, the 2021 BMW i3 offers an optional petrol engine to provide additional range.

See More information: 2021 BMW i3 summary with range extender


fuel economy: 83 mpg city, 72 mpg highway, 78 mpg combined
Vary: 25 mile battery only, 640 mile total

Among the most popular hybrids on the market, the mid-range Prius Prime plug-in is also the most efficient in its class.

See More information: Toyota Prius Prime 2022 summary

hybrid vehicles


fuel economy: 58 mpg city, 60 mpg highway, 59 mpg combined
Vary: 702 total miles

The Hyundai Ioniq is available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicle. Each model is remarkably efficient, but the Ioniq Blue hybrid is the most affordable of the bunch.

See More information: 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Blue review

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

fuel economy: 51 mpg city, 53 mpg highway, 52 mpg combined
Vary: 686 total miles

The 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid features impressive fuel efficiency as well as a 200 horsepower engine that yields over 50 mpg.

See More information: 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid review

standard trucks

Emme Hall/Roadshow

fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, 27 mpg combined
Vary: 648 total miles

While trucks offer much less efficiency in general, the Silverado is one of the most economical pickup trucks on the market.

See More information: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2021 review

standard SUVs


2021 Tesla Model X Long Range Plus

fuel economy: 109 mpge city, 101 mpge highway, 105 mpge combined
Vary: 371 mile battery only

Tesla’s expensive electric SUV is built to impress, with a battery that accommodates a longer range than the competition.

See More information: Tesla Model X 2021 review

Emme Hall/Roadshow

fuel economy: 35 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, 35 mpg combined
Vary: 598 total miles

Even with all-wheel drive, this three-row family truck is extremely economical, offering fuel economy scores that surpass compact cars delivered just a few years ago.

See More information: 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid bronze edition

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective and independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It was not supplied or ordered by a third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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