The Most Fuel Efficient Cars of 2018




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 2018 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 2018Despite another year of relatively cheap fuel prices, 2018 will see four of these vehicles launch improved redesigns and the game-changing Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 hit the mass market more broadly (maybe). 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? 5 years ago, there was a flurry of hybrid/electric vehicle development and excitement with gasoline prices hovering around $4 a gallon. At $2.25 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 2018:

Here are the top 10 most fuel efficient cars of 2018, from least to most fuel efficient.

10. Smart ForTwo EV

  • 2018 Smart EVMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $25,750
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 102
  • City MPG: 124
  • Highway MPG: 94
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 58 miles
  • Overview: Smart seems to be banking its success in the US market on its EV, as it has dropped its gasoline powered sister. This year’s model is almost $2K cheaper than last year’s.

9. Ford Focus Electric

  • 2018 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: New last year, with an increase in range from 76 miles to 115 miles, and it is slightly more efficient as well (107 vs. 105 eMPG). With hatchback standard, this is a great looking electric with a nice range and price.

8. Kia Soul Electric

  • 2018 Kia Soul EVMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $34,845
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 108
  • City MPG: 124
  • Highway MPG: 93
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 111 miles
  • Overview: A new redesign launched towards the end of last year. Range jumped from 93 miles to 111 miles, and efficiency is higher as well – but so is the price, which jumped by $2,000.

7. Fiat 500E

  • 2018 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: There’s just something about the Fiat 500 appearance that makes me want to question its legitimacy as a vehicle. In practical terms, its price and range, for the size of the vehicle, could both be a lot better.

6. Nissan Leaf

  • 2018 Nissan LeafMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $30,875
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 112
  • City MPG: 124
  • Highway MPG: 101
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 150 miles
  • Overview: Newly designed with a boost up to 150 miles of range and a lower price. The Leaf has historically been the top selling electric vehicle – but it will get some huge competition from the Bolt and Tesla 3. The buggy headlights are gone (they improved aerodynamics for the side mirrors).

5. VW e-Golf

  • 2018 VW e-GolfMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $31,315
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 119
  • City MPG: 126
  • Highway MPG: 111
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 125 miles
  • Overview: Re-design yet to be released, but includes an increased 125 mile range.

4. BMW i3

  • 2018 BMW i3MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $44,450
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 118
  • City MPG: 129
  • Highway MPG: 106
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 114 miles
  • Overview: There is an all-electric BMW i3 (highlighted here) and a Range Extender model, which is a plugin hybrid with significant range before kicking over to a gas-powered 2 cylinder engine to power the electric drive (similar to the Chevy Volt).

3. Chevy Bolt

  • 2018 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: GM’s direct competitor to the Tesla Model 3. The Bolt won the 2017 North American Car of the Year Award, boasting an impressive 119 eMPG combined and 238 miles of range.

2. Tesla Model 3

  • 2018 Tesla Model 3MSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $35,000
  • Engine: Electric Drive
  • Combined MPG: 126
  • City MPG: 131
  • Highway MPG: 120
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $500
  • CO2 Emissions: 0 grams/mile
  • EV Mode Range: 220 miles
  • Overview: If you are able to get your hands on one before the end of 2018, consider yourself lucky. All the word is that Tesla has had serious ramping issues to mass produce the hundreds of thousands of pre-orders they received for the Model 3. We’ll see if they can deliver. As of right now, that car, with that range, and that price, is just a dream.

1. Hyundai Ioniq

  • 2018 Hyundai IoniqMSRP (before tax credits or other incentives): $29,500
  • 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: New model that is currently only for sale in California. The Ioniq blows every other electric (including many smaller models) out of the water at 150 city eMPG, 122 highway, and 136 combined. It also has an impressive 124 mile range.

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