The Most Fuel-Efficient Cars of 2020

I am a fuel economy nerd, so I like to research and keep up with the new technology in the market. In this article, I will list the top 10 most fuel-efficient cars vehicles of 2020 sold in the U.S. market, along with specs and pricing.




As you saw recently, I also keep track of the cheapest new cars for many of the same reasons – I love seeing technological improvements that drive more efficiency. And with all of the climate change warnings and natural disasters that we’ve seen in the past few years, there is an urgency to shifting consumer vehicle fleets to more efficiency.

For this list, I scanned for the best fuel economy across each type of powertrain – electric, plug-in hybrid, and gas-electric hybrids. As fate would have it, the 10 most efficient vehicles are all electric drive at this point. As a personal finance writer, I should note that due to their pricey battery packs, electric vehicles are still more expensive than their gasoline counterparts. Only a handful of the vehicles that I will highlight would actually make economic sense to purchase today when you look at total cost of ownership – even with $7,500 federal tax credits still out there. That gap is closing, however.

most fuel efficient cars 2020

Unfortunately, 2020 will see no new entrants to this ranking of the most fuel-efficient cars – the Kia Niro and Hyundai Kona were new models last year. Most of the models on this list are carryovers from prior years, with a few coming with upgraded battery packs to extend their driving range. Audi, Jaguar, Rivian, and Mini are all expected to launch new EV’s this year, but it is not expected that any will make this list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles. Meanwhile, the Fiat 500e ended production in 2019.

A number of years ago, the auto industry and government came to a landmark agreement on a new U.S. fuel efficiency standard for fleets of 54.5 mpg by 2025 and these new vehicles are signs of progress towards those benchmarks. But the average sales-weighted fleet fuel efficiency, after reaching a high 2 years ago of almost 26 mpg, has declined back to 24.7 mpg over the last 2 years as Americans have fallen in love with SUV’s and trucks again. To make matters worse, the Trump Administration is in a legal battle to reduce the previously agreed to standards.

Despite these setbacks, automakers seem convinced that the future is electrified. Ford is launching the largest electric vehicle charging network in North America. Volvo announced that all of its new vehicle models introduced from 2019 onward will be electric or hybrid. GM had stated it is planning to launch “at least 20” new electric vehicles by 2023. VW is forecasting 1 million electric vehicles by 2023 and has said it will make its last gas combustion vehicle in 2026 as it moves fully to electric. And Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have made similar announcements. It’s clear that they will need to lead with larger electrics to meet consumers where they are at.




Mileage, Cost, & Other Metrics

For the specs listed below, fuel economy, CO2 emissions (in grams/mile), and annual fuel cost metrics were gathered from the EPA’s fueleconomy.gov site. Upstream CO2 emissions are national averages, and compare to a new vehicle average of 430 grams/mile. Annual fuel costs listed are based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15,000 annual miles and $0.13 per kWh of electricity.

For MSRP, I have listed the price prior to any federal or state tax credits, which could greatly reduce cost. There is still a federal electric vehicle tax credit of up to $7,500 available for purchases on approved electric vehicles (eligibility varies based on your tax situation). Tax credits are phased out for automakers when they have produced their 200,000th electric vehicle for sale in the U.S. market – and for the first time, a few automakers have passed that mark. Tesla models are no longer eligible for the federal tax credit, as of the end of 2019. Meanwhile, GM credits have dropped to $1,875 and expire in April of 2020.

There are also state electric vehicle tax credits available to many Americans that could be in addition to the federal credits.

The Most Fuel-Efficient Vehicles of 2020 Sold in the US:

Here are the top 10 most fuel-efficient cars (vehicles) of 2020 sold in the United States, from least to most fuel-efficient.

10. Tesla Model S – Long Range

2020 Tesla Model S

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $79,990
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 111
  • City MPG: 115
  • Highway MPG: 107
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 150 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 373 miles
  • Overview: Model S “Long Range” model specs listed above. One of the original electric vehicles in the U.S. market, the Tesla Model S remains largely unchanged since its launch in 2012, outside of battery and software improvements. The Tesla Model S has the longest battery range, at 373 miles, of any EV. Note that the federal tax credit for Tesla vehicles ended at the end of 2019, due to the brand surpassing the 200,000 vehicle sold mark in 2018 and the credit being phased out since then.

9. Kia Niro EV

2020 Kia Niro EV

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $39,545
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 112
  • City MPG: 123
  • Highway MPG: 102
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 160 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 239 miles
  • Overview: The new Kia Niro is very similar to Kia’s sister brand, the Hyundai Kona. The Niro also launched last year and remains nearly identical for 2020. It boasts slightly less impressive specs when compared to the Kona, yet comes with a higher price tag.

8. Nissan Leaf

2020 Nissan Leaf

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $30,915
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 112
  • City MPG: 124
  • Highway MPG: 99
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 150 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 150 miles
  • Overview: The 2020 Nissan Leaf has not yet been released, so last year’s model specs are listed above. From 2010-2017, the Nissan Leaf was the #1 selling electric car globally, but sales have lagged in recent years despite model improvements. The Leaf still does offer an exceptional value among the vehicles on this list.

7. BMW i3

2020 BMW i3

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $45,455
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 113
  • City MPG: 124
  • Highway MPG: 102
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 150 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 153 miles
  • Overview: Standard BMW i3 specs and MSRP listed above (2020 year is expecting a range increase). There is also a range-extender version of this vehicle, which uses a 2 cylinder gas engine to extend the electric power drive for up to a 200 mile range. The price on the range-extender version bumps the car up to a $48,300 MSRP. It was rumored that the i3 production was going to end, but the new BMW CEO gave the vehicle a vote of confidence to continue at least for the time being.

6. VW e-Golf

2020 VW e-Golf

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $31,895
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 113
  • City MPG: 122
  • Highway MPG: 104
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 150 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 123 miles
  • Overview: The 2020 e-Golf took a hit on eMPG in versus last year, dropping from 119 eMPG to 113 eMPG. New VW electrics are on the way, as the company had announced that they would end production of combustion engines in their vehicle lineup by 2026.

5. Kia e-Soul

2020 Kia Soul EV

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): TBD, but likely in the same ballpark as its sister Hyundai Kona ($38,085 MSRP).
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 114
  • City MPG: 127
  • Highway MPG: 101
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 150 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 243 miles
  • Overview: The 2020 Kia e-Soul has yet to launch, and MSRP is still TBD. However, the specs look great and make this a very functional EV at what is projected to be a competitive price. The 243 miles of range on a single charge is a huge increase over the 111 mile range of its prior generation predecessor.

4. Chevy Bolt

2020 Chevy Bolt

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $37,890
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 118
  • City MPG: 127
  • Highway MPG: 108
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 140 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 259 miles
  • Overview: GM’s all-electric Bolt boasts impressive specs for the price, and the battery range increases from 238 to 259 miles in 2020. GM passed the 200,000 electric vehicles sold mark in late 2018, so its tax credit phaseout for electric vehicles has begun and will be at $1,875 in Q1 of 2020, before fully phasing out in Q2 of 2020.

3. Hyundai Kona Electric

2020 Hyundai Kona EV

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $38,085
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 120
  • City MPG: 132
  • Highway MPG: 108
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 170 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 258 miles
  • Overview: The Hyundai Kona EV was a new addition to Hyundai’s lineup last year and has very strong specs with an impressive 120 eMPG and 258 mile battery range, at a great price ($38,085 base MSRP).

2. Hyundai Ioniq EV

2020 Hyundai Ioniq

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $31,245
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 133
  • City MPG: 145
  • Highway MPG: 121
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $500
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 130 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 124 miles
  • Overview: The Hyundai Ioniq gets bumped from the #1 most efficient vehicle spot in 2020. This is likely due to a large bump in battery power, with a range increase from 124 miles last year to 170 in 2020. The Ioniq also has a hybrid and plug-in hybrid version. With these specs, and good looks, the Ioniq is a great value in the electric vehicle market.

1. Tesla Model 3 – Standard Range+

2020 Tesla Model 3

  • MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $39,990
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 141
  • City MPG: 148
  • Highway MPG: 132
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $450
  • CO2 Tailpipe Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • Upstream CO2 Emissions: 160 grams/mile
  • Battery Range: 250 miles
  • Overview: Specs for the “Standard Range+” Model 3 listed above. At the time of publish, the Model 3 outsold any other electric vehicle last year, by almost 10X! Note that the federal tax credit for Tesla’s ended at the end of 2019, due to the brand surpassing the 200,000 vehicle sold mark in 2018 and the credit being phased out since then. It will be interesting to see how this impacts Model 3 sales moving forward.

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  1. Linda

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