Top 10 Highest Mileage Cars in 2008

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With the price of a barrel of oil around $100 and the price of a gallon of gasoline inching towards $4, you’ve probably got fuel on the brain this year. If you also have a new (or new to you) car on the brain as well, you might want to know the top 10 fuel efficient MPG cars of 2008 right? Well, if you scour the EPA website, you’d get the following list of top 10 (with ties) cars.

But, before we hit the actual list, here are some interesting, but not surprising, points worth noting:

  • All vehicles have 4 cylinder engines.
  • All mileages are based on the new EPA MPG testing guidelines.
  • The average is a weighted average based on 55% city driving, 45% highway driving.
  • A lot of Toyota’s and Honda’s on the list but there are some American cars on the list like the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner.
  • The first seven cars on the list are hybrids, three of those are SUVs!
  • All of the cars are capable of going over 30 MPG.
  • The number #1 vehicle, the Toyota Prius, has a starting MSRP of $21,200 (but you have to get on a waiting list!).
  • The number #10 vehicle, the Honda Fit, has a starting MSRP of around $13,950 – very reasonable for a 30.2 MPG (if that truly is important to you).
Rank Vehicle Vehicle Type City MPG Highway MPG Avg. MPG
1 Toyota Prius, 1.5L, Auto (CVT), HEV Sedan 48 45 46.7
2 Honda Civic Hybrid, 1.3L, Auto (CVT), HEV Small Car 40 45 42.3
3 Nissan Altima Hybrid, 2.5L, Auto (CVT), HEV Sedan 35 33 34.1
4 Toyota Camry Hybrid, 2.4L, Auto (CVT), HEV Sedan 33 34 33.5
5 Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD, 2.3L, Auto (CVT) SUV 34 30 32.2
5 Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD, 2.3L, Auto (CVT) SUV 34 30 32.2
5 Ford Escape Hybrid FWD, 2.3L, Auto (CVT) SUV 34 30 32.2
6 Toyota Yaris, 1.5L, Man(5) Small Car, Hatchback 29 36 32.2
7 Toyota Corolla, 1.8L, Man(5) Small Car 28 37 32.1
8 Toyota Yaris, 1.5 L, Auto(4) Small Car, Hatchback 29 35 31.7
9 Honda Fit, 1.5L, Man(5) Small Car, Hatchback 28 34 30.7
10 Honda Fit, 1.5L, Auto(5) Small Car, Hatchback 27 34 30.2

Curious about what #11 was? Not too exciting, it is the Automatic transmission version of the #7 car, the Toyota Corolla.

{ 24 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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24 Responses to “Top 10 Highest Mileage Cars in 2008”

  1. AlB says:

    Bizarre list. Two interesting points/questions. What ever happened to the Prius’s vaunted 60 MPG? A 20% reduction in one year? Second, where are the small diesels (e.g. VW Golf and I’m sure there are others)? The major point you do not address is what is the Total Cost of Ownership? How long does it take to break even when you consider the price delta for a hybrid? Also, battery replacement cost. Also, for the environmentalists, how do you dispose of hybrid batteries?

  2. Jason R says:

    I’ve bought two of hte number nine car in the past none months. Those mileage rates are really low compared to what we actually get, so I might assume that the same is true for the Prius. I get a hair above 30 in my everyday driving (which is entirely surface street), and just under 40 on road trips, unless I drive through Michigan. I can tell you that the Fit is not a car for those who want to drive quickly. The mileage gets much, much worse if you push it over 65 mph. The engine is tiny, and speeding is not in it’s game plan.

  3. Traciatim says:

    I think a better list is the ‘greenest’ cars list from Green Cars:

    If all you care about is MPG, why wouldn’t you be going for a pure electric? If your commute is less than 100 miles it probably makes way more sense just to rent big cars for when you need them and drive a small electric regularly.

    Try the Aptera one, since it falls under the motorcycle rules it doesn’t get subject to crash tests. I’d love to be in that one when some a$$ runs a red and you smack right in to them. 🙂 or even better, some kids in his parents huge SUV smack in to you speeding doing 60 in a 35 zone . . . good luck aptera.

    I also worry about safety in these little cans. Take the Toyota Yaris, 1.5L, Man(5) for instance. Sure, it has a ‘Good’ overall rating for safety. They do the tests by smacking it in to a wall, or hitting it on the side with something the same weight as it. This simulates a Yaris hitting a Yaris. What the heck happens when this 2293lb Toyota Yaris gets smacked head on by a 5674lb Nissan Armada? Guess who’s life physics is helping in that one?

  4. Traciatim says:

    Just a note, I’m not really advocating buying huge SUV’s, but more ‘normal cars’. This trend of tiny is better just seems a little silly to me. Some of them are so small that people don’t even really fit in them that well. Maybe in India where the average 17 year old height is 5′ 3″ rather than in Canada where it’s 5′ 10″ for people 18-24 . . . What about the Netherlands at 6′ 0″ . . .

    It’s a good thing I’m 5′ 5″ and 145lbs . . . I fit in a hamster wheel 🙂

  5. Tom says:

    How come you never see the GMC Yukon or Chevy Tahoe Hybrids on these green lists anymore? The list in the post didn’t even have a category for Large SUV and in the “Green” lists I rarely see them. If anything, the Tahoe/Yukon Hybrids are the greenest cars on the market. The average suburban family cannot fit into a Toyota Prius or the like. These “Green” lists need to look, not only MPG, but size, number of passengers, weight, etc. It’s amazing that a Large SUV can get as good of city MPG as a Honda Accord (the most efficient large car).

  6. Zook says:

    I don’t get how the Prius is tops when I just read an article that said a diesel 5-series BMW got better gas mileage.

    Who is wrong here? Where is the 5-series BMW diesel on this list?

  7. David says:

    You should come out to CA, there is no waiting list for Prius’ – the dealers have plenty!

    @Tom – “The average suburban family cannot fit into a Toyota Prius or the like.” – Unless you have 3 or 4 kids (larger than average), a regular sized family can fit in a regular 4 door car like the Fit, Prius or the Civic. I don’t know a single family of four that actually needs a Tahoe and the like if they don’t tow boats or campers.

  8. Joshua says:

    The Prius was false-advertised with their mpg. The EPA re-did their studies for miles per gallon by not doing “IDEAL” driving conditions, a.k.a driving conditions that we deal with. The Prius only got 44-48 in city 42 highway. What a farse.

  9. Nathan says:

    Umm, what about the smart Fortwo?

    Capable of up to 50 mpg, with saying 33 city and 45 highway.

  10. Nathan says:

    Oops, didn’t pay attention to the fact that the list was only 4 cylinder engines. But regardless, the 3 cylinders in a smart give it more than enough get up and go to beat a Ferrari.

  11. Tabuxander says:

    nice list. but there’re none of these cars are at my country(Malaysia) right now. And I wonder why the government keep hold back all the hybrid cars.

  12. islandzeppelin says:

    government holds back on hybrids so we can continue to stay in Iraq/Middle East! Oil! Oil! Oil!

  13. DoomShepherd says:

    Malaysia in in Iraq? I think islanszeppelin’s been inhaling.

  14. CHRIS says:


  15. says:

    None except the top two are worth the sacrifice. I get 28 MPG from a full size 2000 Pontiac Bonneville. I have gotten 34 MPG on a long trip with 5 passengers aboard. So none of these figures are impressive to me, not even the top 2. If I’m going to squeeze into a little car, I want double the MPG. I want 65 MPG and better. My only recourse is to wait for the 2011 GM Volt, then I’ll never use gas again, or 150 MPG when on long trips.

  16. Tim says:

    The VW diesels were probably omitted because they not produced in 2007 and won’t be available again until August 2008. I have owned two and plan to buy a third when they are available. My first was a 5 speed and I averaged 49mpg the only reason I got rid of it was because it was a lease. My second one is an automatic averaging 43mpg. At 90hp its not a speed demon but has no problem running 65-70mph. The new model is supposed to have 145hp and average 46 mpg with a 6 speed automatic. Starting in 2009 several auto makers are suppose to introduce new diesels, Nissan, Subaru, Mercedes and BMW are said to be some of those offering diesels soon. VW has taken a lead on finding new sources for diesel fuel such as a non-edible weed and wood by products.

  17. Chuck says:

    The reason the mpg ratings dropped was because of the way the federal government mandated they be calculated (change went into effect this year). People tend to exaggerate their mileage numbers and I doubt a full size Bonneville got a legitimate 34 mpg on level ground.

    Honda made a Civic HF years ago that some claim got a legitimate 50 mpg. Maybe, but it was also a lot smaller and a lot less well equipped than, say, the current Civic. I get 28 mpg from my Honda S2000 driving it carefully (I commute in it) and occasionally 29 if I’m lucky. With a heavy foot I get 25.

    Any real world 30+ figure is pretty good for an internal combustion engine in U.S. driving patterns. Lots of myths about how much you can squeeze out of an engine. Gas engines have a theoretical thermal efficiency of about 35%. Most engines achieve an efficiency of about 20% at most of the available energy in a gallon of gasoline. If you want to drive at 70 on the highway, it’s not 13% more gas than 60, its perhaps 50% more. Horsepower required goes a speed cubed (although it’s more complicated than that), so the net effect is people expect too much from cars in regards to MPG if they still want size, comfort and speed. it’s not magic it’s physics. I believe in a carefully designed, light, slow car you could achieve 40-ish. Diesels maybe 50-ish. Want any better and you need an all-electric or a motorcycle.

  18. Neil says:

    I used to drive for Toyota out here in sunny AZ. Overall mileage for the Prius was about 45 mpg, 49 on my best night driving with a light foot. I found the car roomy enough for a small car, and reliable as hell. It’s not a speed demon, or the best looking car on the road, but with gas prices rapidly approaching $4 a gallon, and me having a 90 mile commute… I am definately considering trading in my Nissan 4×4 for one. Like one of the previous posters said though I would like to see what the exact cost to own one is, and how long to recoup the premium I would have to pay for one.

  19. Lou Rose says:

    I am surprised that I can just about match the Number 1 car on the list with my 13 year old geo metro 4 cyl 5sp, which is now nearing 200k. It seems that in general there aren’t too many high milage gasoline only cars, and in fact there were more higher milage cars 10 to 20 years ago. Why?

  20. Charles Enberg says:

    I own a 1997 Escort and a 1999 Escort ZX-2 both are five speeds on my 35 mile commute to work they average a solid 30 and 29 mpg on a day in and day out basis, Michigan speeds tend to be 70+ expect in the winter then my mileage goes up a bit, because the speeds hover more around 60 and below.

    Both cars have over 100K it does seem strange that their isn’t anything new that cost effective yet, I ride my scooter in the summer whether permiting that averages about 55 mpg, but it’s mileage depends more on wind and speed than my cars.

  21. Keith Menges says:

    The latest mileage numbers don’t get me too excited either. My old ’93 Saturn SL got 40+ MPG in the summer right up until the engine blew at 235,000. My current ’96 Saturn SL got about 40 MPG last year but I’ve dropped to about 35 this year (I have to look into that). I too am waiting for the cost of the electrics to come down. If you can get me anywhere near paying off the diffeence within three years you probably have me.

  22. Iglo says:

    I’m getting 54 MPG average in my Prius. And when I’m running 45 MPH constant I’m getting above 65 MPG. I have to drive like a real pig to get the mileage all the way down to 46.7 MPG as indicated in this article. Fact is Prius is much better than that on average. Take into account this if Florida where we drive with full AC all the time. Had the car for 2 years and look forward to the plug-in version.

  23. Denny says:

    I do get 31-32 mpg on the highway (65 mph) in a 2000 Pontiac Bonneville. It drops from 24-26 with mixed driving.

  24. ASHLEY GROOME says:

    Also interesting is the fact that all the cars listed run on low grade gas. Not one diesel engine vehicle like the Citroen 1.6 C4, the Peugeot or the VW Golf Diesel – all of which can (and do) achieve highway figures of about 80 MPG.

    All these vehicles are available in UK Europe and Australia. As far as I know none are available in the US.

    Wake up America, your fuel companies, auto makers and legislators are taking you for a ride.

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