The Most Fuel Efficient Cars of 2017




I am a fuel economy nerd, so I like to research what’s new on the market. In this post, I will list out the top 10 most fuel efficient cars of 2017 sold in the U.S. market.

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 squeeze out more efficiency.

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 cars are all electric drive at this point. But due to their pricey battery packs, electric vehicles are still more expensive than their gasoline counterparts. Only a few 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.

most fuel efficient cars 2017Despite another year of very cheap fuel prices, 2017 will see the launch of two new vehicles on this list of the most fuel efficient cars (coming in at the #1 and #3 spots). This compares to zero new vehicles launched last year. Additionally, manufacturers have also upgraded battery packs and driving range for a number of returnees on the list.

While there has been year-over-year price drops among these vehicles, they haven’t been as notable as in recent years. This could be the sign of a mature market and battery technology getting closer to reaching markets of scale. It’s also a sign of changing customer purchasing habits.

A few years back, 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 25 mpg over the last 2 years.

On that last point, if you’re an automaker, why focus on expensive technology and development for such a small piece of the market that is not growing? 4 years ago, there was a flurry of hybrid/electric vehicle development and excitement with gasoline prices hovering around $4 a gallon. At $2 a gallon – not so much. We’ve fallen for the low gas price trap set by OPEC, and I fear it will come back to bite us.

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. 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 (depends on your tax situation) available for purchases on approved electric vehicles. Tax credits are phased out for an automaker when they have produced their 200,000th electric vehicle, but no automaker is there yet (Tesla could get there this year if it delivers on the Tesla 3).

Additionally there are state electric vehicle tax credits available to many Americans that you may want to look in to. Electric is the present and the future!

The Most Fuel Efficient Cars of 2017:

Here are the top 10 most fuel efficient cars of 2017, from least to most fuel efficient.

10. Kia Soul Electric

  • 2017 Kia Soul ElectricMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $32,800
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 105
  • City MPG: 120
  • Highway MPG: 92
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 93 miles
  • Overview: A new model with an increased range is expected to be launched in 2017.

9. Ford Focus Electric

  • 2017 Ford Focus ElectricMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $29,995
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 107
  • City MPG: 118
  • Highway MPG: 96
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 115 miles
  • Overview: The new 2017 Ford Focus Electric increases its range from 76 miles to 115 miles vs last year’s model, and it is slightly more efficient as well (107 vs. 105 eMPG). In the hatchback (standard), this is a great looking electric with a nice range.

8. Smart ForTwo EV

  • 2017 Smart ForTwo EVMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $25,750
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 107
  • City MPG: 122
  • Highway MPG: 93
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 68 miles
  • Overview: Specs highlighted are for the prior model year. A 2017 model will be released in the spring, with an increased range and similar efficiency and price. For a car of this size, you would expect more range, so this is a much needed update.

7. Mitsubishi i-MiEV

  • 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEVMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $22,995
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 112
  • City MPG: 121
  • Highway MPG: 102
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 59 miles
  • Overview: If you are able to find one, it is the cheapest electric vehicle on the market. And with tax credits, it could come in below just about any gasoline-powered car in total cost.

6. Fiat 500E

  • 2017 Fiat 500EMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $32,795
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 112
  • City MPG: 121
  • Highway MPG: 103
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 84 miles
  • Overview: I have to admit – I like the tacky 2-tone highlights on the 500e. Otherwise, this vehicle is not that impressive. Its price and range, for the size of the vehicle, could both be a lot better.

5. Nissan Leaf

  • 2017 Nissan LeafMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $31,545
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 112
  • City MPG: 124
  • Highway MPG: 101
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 107 miles
  • Overview: The 2017 Leaf moves from a 24 kW-hr battery pack option to only a 30. This increases the range from 84 to 107 miles. The Leaf typically has the best lease offers, which has helped make it the top selling electric vehicle – but it will get some huge competition from the Bolt and upcoming Tesla 3.

4. VW e-Golf

  • 2017 Volkswagen e-GolfMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $28,995
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 116
  • City MPG: 126
  • Highway MPG: 105
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 83 miles
  • Overview:Dieselgate” still hangs over the heads of VW, and has earned my scorn. You don’t have to worry about diesel emissions here with an electric, but nothing about this vehicle stands out amongst the crowd.

3. Chevy Bolt

  • 2017 Chevy BoltMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $37,495
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 119
  • City MPG: 128
  • Highway MPG: 110
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 238 miles
  • Overview: The new Chevy Bolt replaces the short-lived Chevy Spark EV. You’ll notice that the Bolt and the gasoline-powered Spark look a lot alike. They have very similar bodies, but the Bolt has 4 doors. The big difference between the two vehicles is that the Bolt has an outstanding 238 miles of range with its 60kWh, pitting it as a direct competitor to Tesla’s high-range electric lineup. And in that regard, it has a notably higher eMPG than the Model S. It will likely be more of a direct competitor to the Tesla Model 3. The Bolt was recently voted as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 2017.

2. BMW i3 BEV

  • 2017 BMW i3-BEVMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $44,595
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 124
  • City MPG: 137
  • Highway MPG: 111
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 81 miles
  • Overview: The BMW i3 comes in two models – the 100% EV highlighted here, and a Range Extender model, which is a plugin hybrid with 72 miles of electric range (similar to a full electric) before kicking over to a gas-powered 2 cylinder engine to power the electric drive (similar to the Chevy Volt). The electric eMPG is 117, while the gas is 39 MPG..

1. Hyundai Ioniq

  • 2017 Hyundai IoniqMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $30,000
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 136
  • City MPG: 150
  • Highway MPG: 122
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $500
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 124 miles
  • Overview: Wow, this car came out of nowhere! The new Hyundai Ioniq has yet to be released in the US market, but it just received it’s official EPA mileage numbers, and it blows every other electric (including many smaller models) out of the water at 150 city eMPG, 122 highway, and 136 combined. It is also expected to have an impressive 124 mile range. And if the MSRP quoted as $30,000 on fueleconomy.gov is correct (it is not yet quoted on the Hyundai site), then this car could be a game change. Plus – it looks great (not easy with electric vehicles).

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3 Comments

  1. FRANCIS MCMASTER
  2. Mona
  3. Steve

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