• EPA names automaker the most fuel-efficient
  • Honda, Toyota, VW also finish near the top
  • Ranking considers fuel economy and emissions 

If you had to name the most fuel-efficient automaker in the U.S., you'd likely guess Toyota -- manufacturer of the Prius line -- or Ford, known for its plug-in hybrid Fusion, Focus and C-MAX hatchback. You may even guess Honda, due to its popular hybrid lineup. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each of those guesses is incorrect. Instead, the most fuel-efficient automaker is Mazda -- a title the brand earned without offering one hybrid vehicle. 

The EPA recently announced Mazda's placement atop its listing of the most fuel-efficient car brands in the U.S. -- a ranking that considered several factors. Chief among them was Mazda's fleet-wide adjusted fuel economy, which stands at a whopping 27.1 miles per gallon -- more than 6 mpg higher than last-place finishers General Motors and Chrysler

Also helping the automaker earn the top spot in EPA's fuel-efficiency list was a measure of carbon dioxide emissions. According to EPA, Mazda's average carbon dioxide emissions of 328 grams per mile beats out every other major automaker. That means drivers aren't just saving money at the pump -- they're also helping to save the environment. 

Other automakers near the top of EPA's list aren't surprising. Honda finished in second place, averaging 26.6 mpg, while Toyota, Volkswagen and Subaru also ended up near the top. In addition to General Motors and Chrysler, the list finished off with Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz

So how did Mazda earn such high fuel economy ratings without using hybrid power? One reason is the brand's SkyActiv technology, which combines lightweight materials with highly efficient design strategies. The result is engines that boast adequate power and excellent gas mileage. 

Another reason for the automaker's fuel economy success is the brand's strong presence in compact and midsize car segments. Since EPA's fuel economy average is weighted by sales, automakers such as Ford and General Motors, which both produce several very efficient cars, are often dragged down by larger SUVs such as the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon or Ford Expedition. Mazda, meanwhile, offers just two SUVs: the small CX-5 and the midsize CX-9. Neither offer V8 engines, and both models are designed to maximize gas mileage. 

What it means to you: If buying green is important to you, Mazda's vehicles boast the strongest fuel economy -- and the best pollution numbers -- of any automaker's lineup.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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