Terrific fuel economy no longer requires a driver to sacrifice fun, space, luxury or affordability.
Subcompact cars like the Mitsubishi Mirage GT are generally the ones we think of when we imagine top-notch fuel economy. Or perhaps a discussion of efficiency brings to mind a single-focus vehicle like the top-selling green car past and present, the Toyota Prius.
Although these are both excellent vehicles in their own right, some might say they come with a compromise, be it comfort, safety or fun. BestRide has been fortunate to test a number of great vehicles this year, and three of them returned about 40 mpg to our testers in real-world driving. Each is notable in that they are not only no-compromise cars, they are in fact, among the best in their individual segments.
2017 Honda Civic
If you have not been in a Civic in a while you are in for quite a shock. This is a car that the EPA says falls within its guidelines for “midsize cars.” BestRide enjoys excellent test-vehicle support from Honda, and our testers have recently tried three different versions of the newly designed Civic. We first found ourselves in the 2016 Civic EX-T With Honda Sensing. In that CVT-equipped sedan, we got 40 MPG, which in our area meant it had a better cost per mile of fuel than an electric car would.
OK, we know what you are thinking, “Blah, CVTs are no fun.” While we won’t argue the point, we do like CVTs in the right vehicle. However, this past week we tested the Civic Hatch Sport with its 180-horsepower turbocharged engine and six-speed manual. It’s a fun car to drive, a Top Safety Pick, very affordable at less than $23K, and it’s roomy.
In mixed suburban and highway driving, we again got 40 mpg as shown in our top-of-page image. We verified the car’s display by doing the math at the pump, and the Civic is a real-world, 40-mpg-car – as long as you stay out of stop and go traffic.
Interestingly, our next car actually gets its best mileage in city traffic.
2017 Lexus ES 300h
The plush and comfortable Lexus ES 300h is a hybrid. Its strengths include standard active safety other brands charge extra for, supreme comfort, a huge interior, legendary reliability and the ability to get 40 mpg in the city, according to the EPA.
This is a sedan that is very competitive with anything with its size, price, and content. At about $50k it is not inexpensive, but compared to its peers, it is a relatively good value.
In our mixed suburban testing in winter conditions (and using winter-blend fuel), we can report 38 MPG. However, during our single tank of fuel, we drove into Boston to the Auto Show. We were in stop and go traffic for two hours. During that time, the displayed mileage went up from 38 mpg.
Due to its hybrid regenerative braking, ability to creep forward in traffic using zero gasoline, and stop-start technology, the ES 300h actually increases its efficiency in the city. This is not a plug-in car, it’s a hybrid that uses regular unleaded fuel.
2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
If you feel as if we stretched the title a bit calling the above two cars “40 mpg in the real world”, let us make amends with the 48-mpg EPA-combined Honda Accord Hybrid Touring. Our Philip Ruth is an honest critic when a car deserves a slap-down, but his review of the Accord Hybrid Touring reads like a love letter. A big part of the overall success of this special car is its Sport mode. Ruth said, “In Sport, there was little need to ask for more power, because the initial kick was so much stronger. This led to an uncommon feeling of driving confidence for a hybrid.”
With 212 horsepower, the Accord Hybrid Touring is more powerful by a significant margin than the mainstream, four-cylinder, midsize four-door crowd. Since it is a Top Safety Pick Plus, comes loaded for $36K, and “reminded us that pretty much every Accord we’ve driven feels ready to hustle,” it is easy to call the Accord Hybrid Touring a 40 MPG real-world car with no compromises.