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Cars with best value for fuel economy: Save money with this list

October 08, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • The Nissan Versa is among the best cars for low sticker price and high fuel economy, according to Edmunds.com.
The Nissan Versa is among the best cars for low sticker price and high fuel… (Nissan North America )

Record gas prices got you fearing that next trip to the gas station?

If you are driving a gas guzzler like the 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup, we feel your pain. At Monday’s $4.67 a gallon price for regular gasoline, it will cost more than $120 to fill up the 26-gallon tank. Ouch!

We worked with auto information company Edmunds.com to develop a top 10 list of gas misers in case you want to dump your gas hog. Based on our analysis, these autos provide the best combination of sticker price and fuel economy.

PHOTOS: The top 10 gas misers

Here are the parameters: All of the cars had to be vehicles anyone could drive – so no manual transmissions. The cars had to use the lowest grade of gas so as not to add expense for the driver. That tossed out vehicles such as the Smart Fortwo, which otherwise would have made the list.

Edmunds.com analyst Ivan Drury then applied a formula in which he divided the sticker price for each vehicle by its fuel economy rating. That tells you how much the car will cost to buy for every mile per gallon of fuel efficiency it provides. 

These cars are “your best bang for the buck,” Drury said.  

Not surprisingly, little cars, or “econo-boxes,” with small engines are the top values. Hybrids, because of their expense, didn’t cut it.

The top car was the Nissan Versa, with a sticker price of $13,120 and Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating of 33 mpg; it had a value of 398. (Remember, the lower the number, the better.) Toyota’s Scion iQ was second with a 413 score.

Among the bigger but still small cars were the Honda Civic, which ranked 7th with a 517 score and the Hyundai Elantra, which was 10th with a score of 533.   

This is based on 2012 model-year cars because that’s the data that is currently available. But Drury said the 2013 fleet should closely mirror the results.

If the cars on the gas miser list are too small, Drury suggested a couple of other good values in larger family sedans. They include diesel version of the Volkswagen Passat, which had an 820 score on our scale, and the Toyota Camry hybrid, which had a score of 688.

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