2015 Cars That Get The Best Fuel Economy – Forbes

Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2014

With the national average cost for a gallon of gasoline having recently dropped to just under $3.00 a gallon, the AAA says fuel prices are at their cheapest they’ve been since December 2010. Still, keeping gas in the tank remains one of a motorist’s costliest driving expenses; given the volatility involved in the petroleum industry, few gamblers would bet against prices remaining at these affordable levels for an extended period.

Fortunately for those taking a longer-term view, new vehicles are more fuel-efficient than they’ve ever been, with the average rating for all cars and light-duty trucks rising to 24.1 mpg for the 2013 model year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual Fuel Economy Trends report. This represents a 0.5-mpg boost over the previous model year’s figures, with fleet-wide fuel economy registering increases over eight of the last nine years.

The EPA credits much of this increase to more widespread use of the latest fuel-saving technology including direct-injection engines, turbochargers and advanced automatic transmissions having as many as nine forward gears.

“Consumers now have many more choices when shopping for vehicles with higher fuel economy and lower emissions compared to just five years ago,” says EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

We’re featuring the 20 cars for 2015 that the EPA says will deliver the best overall fuel economy among all models in the accompanying slideshow, along with our own commentary.

Unfortunately, those looking for the absolute most efficient means of vehicular transportation, whether for altruistic environmental considerations or simply to save money at the pump, had better check the electrical connections in their garages to ensure they’re up to code. That’s because all but two out of the EPA’s 20 most fuel-efficient vehicles for 2015 are either plug-in hybrids or pure electric vehicles. What’s more, several of the fuel economy leaders are sold only in California and perhaps a few select other states. At that, even models represented here that are available nationwide might be hard to find on showroom floors outside of areas that already register the healthiest EV and plug-in vehicle sales.

For the record, Georgia, California and Washington are presently the nation’s top three states for EV sales, according to the market research firm IHS Automotive. Georgia? Seems that the Peach State offers EV buyers a whopping $5,000 tax credit, the richest in the Southeast and among the highest in the nation, and that’s on top of the one-time $7,500 federal tax credit that’s also granted to EV buyers. That’s $12,500 off the top just for walking into a dealership’s door.

In Pictures: 20 Cars With The Best Fuel Economy.

The EPA’s top fuel-saver for 2015 is the oddly styled but technologically advanced BMW i3, which has the distinction of being the only car for which a gasoline engine is optional. How’s that? The i3 is otherwise a full EV, with a range of 80-100 hours on a charge, but the automaker sells a small gasoline engine as a “range extender” to run the electric motor once the car’s lithium-ion battery is depleted, which more or less turns it onto a hybrid EV/plug-in hybrid.

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