Top 10 Best Cars For MPG
Thinking of buying an economical car with a decent MPG? You’re not alone. Everyone likes to save money when driving these days, and one of the biggest burdens on any motorist’s wallet is the fuel bill.
While the performance of any car is important, basic economics means that choosing a car that does well for MPG (miles per gallon) is a must for most on any kind of budget.
And with environmental concerns and future emission charges at the front of many car owner’s minds, it’s little wonder that mileage economy is a critical factor for most buyers.
With petrol and diesel prices rising all the time, diesel car values falling and higher taxes being charged for the most polluting vehicles, having a car that can squeeze as many miles as possible from each gallon of fuel could well save you thousands of pounds a year. So which cars are best for mileage?
Find out below – we’ve created this buying guide to show you the most economical cars for MPG available on the UK market in 2019.
The best cars to buy for MPG are reviewed below:
- Toyota Prius
- Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi
- Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI
- Honda Civic 1.6 iDTEC
- Peugeot 208 1.5 BlueHDi
- Renault Clio dCi 90
- Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
- Volkswagen Golf GTE
- Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer BlueHDi 130
- Suzuki Celerio
1. Toyota Prius (Hybrid)
Everyone who has taken too many Uber journeys loves to hate a Toyota Prius, but with a claimed 94.1 MPG and CO2 of just 70g/km, there’s no arguing with the Toyota’s MPG frugality. Business users can also expect a benefit-in-kind rating of 13% which is incredibly generous.
Prices start from £24,245 for the entry-level ‘Active’, whereas the more work focussed ‘Business Edition’ is £25,185. The range-topping ‘Excel’ will set you back a rather hefty £28,250.
Coupling a 1.8-litre petrol engine to a hybrid battery pack is achieved through a silky smooth CVT automatic gearbox, occasionally it can be a little slow when you want an extra poke of acceleration, but on the whole it makes the Prius a calm and serene place to be.
True MPG is only around 62.5 MPG as claimed by Autocar in their test, so make sure you take all the official figures with a big pinch of salt.
Toyota wants to charge a premium for the Prius purely from an MPG point of view, but with those miles per gallon looking on the low side, the Toyota is priced around the same as a Germanic saloon of much higher quality.
Even though the Prius was the first eco-warrior to hit our roads, it might not necessarily be the best option these days. It still wrings out many miles per gallon, but there are arguably better alternatives for top-down MPG out there. We’ll cover them through this guide.
- Easy to drive
- Decent kit across the range
- People may think you are an Uber driver.
2. Ford Focus
Not only have Ford recently updated the Focus with some incredibly stylish looks, they’ve also worked hard to make the 1.5 litre TDCi engine as efficient as possible. Officially they claim 85 MPG, but real-world tests have seen figures of roughly 60 MPG, which still isn’t bad from such a big family hatchback with room for the kids.
Price wise the 1.5 TDCi starts at £19,600 in entry-level ‘Style’ trim, but prices can increase to £25,800 for the ‘Vignale’ edition, that does include a slight power bump to 120 PS from 95.
The ride is hailed as somewhere between a VW Golf and a Skoda Octavia, with lower powered cars having a different suspension setup to their fire breathing bigger brothers. Interior quality is on the good side, with plastics easy on the eye but nothing stands out as special. Even the Kia Ceed offers more luxury than the average Focus can.
Cramped rear seats always used to be a complaint of previous generation Focus models, but this has now been fixed. Even lankier humans reaching the 6-foot mark will find it comfortable enough in the back over long journeys.
So if you’re after a comfy, spacious family hatchback that sips diesel through a straw, the Focus is indeed an MPG winner to add to your test drive list.
- New model to market
- Be safe in the knowledge you’re driving the UK’s most popular car
- Fresh looks
- High entry point to the model
- Interior feel not so great
3. Skoda Octavia
Skoda rate their 1.6 TDI Octavia at 74.3 MPG, real-world numbers have it sitting around the 67.3 mark though – still incredibly high for such a big car. That’s even when combined with an automatic DSG gearbox.
Pricing starts at £20,420 for the base ‘S’ model fitted with the manual 1.6 TDI. However, the DSG fitted model starts from £21,670. The highest spec you can match the 1.6 TDI/DSG combo is the SE L which will set you back around £25,000.
Winning WhatCar? 2018 family car of the year goes to show why the Octavia made it to our list. While it may not be the most exciting car to look at or drive, it provides a spacious interior to lug around the kids and all their kit. Think of it like a budget VW Golf, or a Ford Mondeo on Focus money.
Inside, the plastics are a little rougher than what you’d find in its VW stablemate, and there’s less standard tech on offer. All of this can be added on, but it’s an extra cost, some of them rather hefty.
If you’re a practical thinking person, then the Skoda Octavia and its diesel 1.6 engine are the rational choice for an MPG-friendly family car.
- Great value for money
- Kind of like a Golf but with more bang for your buck
- Boring looks
- Equally uninspiring drive
4. Honda Civic
Honda have always done frugal diesels well, the last generation Civic could manage 520 miles per tank which equates to 60.9 MPG. Well, this new 10th generation Civic is claimed to achieve a staggering 80.1 on a combined cycle, but real world figures pin it at closer to the 65 MPG figure, which is still incredibly high and better than the previous Civic.
Thankfully you can spec the 1.6 diesel from basic ‘SE’ trim, so prices start at a reasonable £19,100. Range-topping ‘Prestige’ can’t be optioned with the diesel, so the highest you can go with that engine is ‘EX’ which starts at £23,805 before options.
The new Civic is wider, longer and lower than the last one giving it better handling and a lot more space for rear seat passengers. That swooping roofline hurts head height so it’s not as good as the new Ford Focus for larger people, but legroom is still healthy and the boot also compares well to the Focus.
Again the Civic is a great family hatch contender, with pricing that aims it squarely at the likes of the SEAT Leon and Ford Focus. It also undercuts the entry-level diesel Golf by over £2,000.
- Rides well
- Limited rear headroo
- Divisive looks
- Same money as a Focus
5. Peugeot 208
If you’re after a smaller hatchback or a little city runabout that’s great on MPG, then the Peugeot 208 BlueHDi is one of, if not the most frugal on the market right now. The older 1.6 BlueHDi achieved better MPG than many hybrids could muster.
In its latest downsized form the 1.5-litre diesel claims to manage 67.7 in the new WLTP tests. This new way of testing MPG and emissions aims to simulate real-world conditions so can be taken at more of a face value compared to the old, overblown values. Expect around 65 MPG on a good run.
Yes, the 208 is going to be replaced later this year, but that’s good if you’re a buyer on a budget as there will undoubtedly be a myriad of deals as Peugeot try to shift the old model. There will also be lots of kit and special ‘runout’ models to take advantage of.
You can bag the 1.5-litre diesel in entry-level ‘Active’ trim for £17,185, range-topping ‘GT Line’ tips the balance at £18,735 but adds things like climate control, sports seats, electric folding heated door mirrors and sporty GT styling along with large 17-inch alloys.
As a second car for commuting or around town the Peugeot 208 1.5 BlueHDi makes perfect sense, just keep an eye out over the next few months for deals as the new model is announced which could have even better MPG.
- Superb MPG
- Great looking interior
- Old model soon to be replaced
6. Renault Clio
The cheapest supermini on our list is the Renault Clio dCi 90, Renault state it will achieve 91.1 MPG, but real world figures post it around the 80 mark, which for £15,695 is damn good value for money.
That’s in part due to the diesel engine being available on the basic ‘Play’ trim level, as well as at the opposite end of the spectrum in the sporty looking ‘GT Line’ which starts at £17,965. These prices make the Peugeot 208 look decidedly expensive, but as with the Peugeot, the Clio is going to be replaced later this year, so prices may even dip further.
Inside it may look a little dated for some, with the small infotainment screen and odd left-hand start button that has always been off-putting. But if it’s MPG you’re most bothered about, the quality balance is there…
The interior and exterior is good throughout, with a subtle textured finish across the top of the dash rather than the harder plastic you find in most hatchbacks this size. There’s also plenty of well-priced options to make the Clio stand out, different seats are £100 extra, LED lights throughout are also an additional £100.
If you’re after a brand new car that’s superb on fuel with an outstanding MPG, then the Clio could well be the cheapest on sale today, it’s not as stylish as the 208, but if you’re after a brand new car on a budget, you can’t go wrong.
- Cheap compared to the competition
- GT Line packs some sporty looks
- Old model, has only been face lifted slightly over the years
- Infotainment a pain to use
7. Hyundai Ioniq (Hybrid)
Another hybrid makes our best MPG list, this time the relatively new Hyundai Ioniq. Hyundai says it will achieve 83.1 MPG; real-world figures put it around the 63.9 mark. This still makes the Hyundai a high hitter; it also has some striking looks that make it stand out from the majority of plain Jane hatchbacks on our roads.
Prices start at £21,790 with a benefit-in-kind rating of 19%, that’s more than the Toyota Prius and the Hyundai is nearly £3k cheaper. It also only emits 84g of CO2 per km, in part due to its super slippery design giving it a drag coefficient of 0.24.
Hyundai has fitted a 1.6-litre engine with a hybrid system, again via a CVT for smooth power delivery. A top of the range Ioniq costs £25,390, and they’ve recently released a plug-in hybrid version that’s priced from £28,395, this model drops emissions further to just 26 g/km.
The rear seats in the Hyundai are on the cramped side, so probably best for kids rather than adults on longer journeys. It can also struggle when at motorway speeds so it’s best as an around town, short journey runabout, especially as diesel will get better MPG on a long run.
- Unique looks
- Smooth CVT gearbox
- Doesn’t do so well on long runs
- Can struggle at higher speeds
8. Volkswagen Golf GTE (Hybrid)
Sadly as of the date of writing (12/02/19) you can’t currently order a brand new VW Golf GTE, apparently due to ‘unprecedented demand, leading to long delivery lead times, Golf GTE is currently closed to ordering.’ A real shame, as it has a really decent MPG for its size and power.
When the books open again the GTE is one of the best petrol hybrids on the market, it packs hot hatch performance when you want it but can be a fuel sipper when you need it.
It’s powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine combined with an electric motor near the gearbox. Total power is 204 BHP, and the 8.7 kWh battery can potentially drive you 31 miles on EV power alone.
MPG is rated at 188, that’s due to the battery pack, sadly the real world range is around 72.9, making it one of the highest scoring cars on our list, but it also starts at £28,000 making it rather pricey.
Keep an eye out to see if it goes back on sale, but VW may just be waiting until the next generation Golf is released before selling the GTE again.
- Hot hatch performance
- Looks just like a Golf
- Not currently on sale (Feb 2019)
- Performance comes at a price
9. Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer
If you need a car with seven seats to carry around the tribe and all their kit the Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer is the current MPV MPG champ. As with the Peugeot 208, the BlueHDi version comes up trumps, in fact, the automatic version achieves better miles per gallon and lower CO2 than the manual.
The 70.6 MPG and 105 g/km of CO2, real-world MPG claimed is more likely to be around the high 50s in reality. It’s not outstanding for MPG, but for its size it does well.
A central dial binnacle keeps the driver’s view of the road distraction-free and there’s tons of storage to be found throughout the cabin. Inside is nice and light thanks to the large windscreen; a panoramic roof can also be specced on higher trim levels.
Prices start at £27,610 for the entry-level ‘Touch’ edition, the top of the range ‘Flair’ starts at £34,390 with the BlueHDi 130 automatic.
AutoExpress claim the third row is rather on the squashed side, but even with seven seats in use, there is still a decent amount of boot space to be had. Standard kit is high across the range but the one to go for is ‘Flair’ as it ticks all the boxes.
- Big load lugging ability without looking like a bus
- Surprisingly high MPG
- Becoming a bit long in the tooth
- Third row can be cramped
10. Suzuki Celerio
Now for the first petrol only car on this list, it’s a city car and somewhat of a super budget MPG choice, the Suzuki Celerio. Costing just £8,999 the little Suzuki is powered by a tiny 1.0-litre petrol engine, but it’s claimed MPG is a massive 78.4. Real world figures show it coming closer to 64.9, but that’s pretty damn close to Suzuki’s stated figure.
In terms of car for your money you don’t get much, the Celerio is very much an ‘emerging markets’ car, it sells huge numbers over in India. You will, however, get super low running costs, great MPG and it’s also cheap to buy in the first place.
Refinement isn’t great; the 1.0-litre engine is thrashy and coarse, the plastics are of poor quality and flimsy in places, there’s also a lot of wind noise at motorway speed. On the positive side, it’s easy to drive with light controls and a decent sized boot for such a small car.
It’s the true shoestring budget option for a secondary car that has winning MPG around town.
- Motoring for a fraction of the cost of a normal hatch
- Tiny dimensions make it a great city car
- Cheap feeling interior
There’s an MPG champion for every budget and size
So there you go. 10 cars that all provide exceptional miles per gallon. As you can see, diesel is still the champion of MPG – even with all the bad press over the last few years, petrol – and even some hybrids – can’t come close to diesel, the fuel of MPG brilliance. Read more about diesel in our guide to buying and selling a diesel car.
Peugeot have done an astonishing job with the BlueHDi in the plucky little 208, and it turns out that the Toyota Prius might not be all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to being MPG-economical.
Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought and shown you a wide range of alternatives that are currently on the market.
MPG getting you down? Need to get rid of an old gas guzzler?
Is your old and much loved car simply costing too much to run these days? Thinking of selling it on and putting the money towards a new car?
Make sure to check out all our car selling guides and value your car over on our homepage for a quick cash sale.
If you’re looking for best in class MPG for your next motor, be sure to read our further buying guides, here are some below: