In a market in which nearly everyone wants a truck or SUV, assembling a list of fuel sippers might seem like poor use of our time. But pump prices for gasoline are trending upward. We hear dozens of reasons for this, from a shrinking dollar, a draw down of oil supplies, the inherent extra cost of summer gasoline due to the added demand created by summer travel, OPEC cutting production or market volatility caused by oil speculators.
Whether it’s one or some (more likely) combination of several factors, according to AAA, the $2.81 average price of a gallon of gas in the United States at the close of April was the highest since November of 2014. It was 16 cents more expensive than the previous month and 43 cents more expensive than a year earlier. And it’s not over yet. Analysts at AAA speculate prices may rise another 10 cents per gallon before leveling out toward the end of May.
Are you ready to hear about some fuel sippers now? You may still want to pick up a cup of morning coffee at your local food mart/gas station, but these 12 picks will ensure you won’t be making as many (if any) stops there for gas.
2018 Chevrolet Bolt
Designed as an electric vehicle (EV) from the ground up, the Bolt delivers decent driving dynamics, as well as a 238-mile range. It charges in about nine hours through a 240-volt charging station, or in as little as two hours at a DC Fast Charging Station. The 240-volt station can be folded into the car’s financing. The government rates its fuel economy at 128 MPGe city and 110 MPGe highway for a combined MPGe of 119. Every Bolt comes with Chevrolet MyLink, OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Before any government tax credits, pricing begins around $37,500.
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
No surprise that this is the only hybrid minivan among our picks — it is the only hybrid minivan. However, that’s not all there is to talk about. For the most part, it offers all the technology, utility and convenience of the regular Pacifica. About the only difference is it doesn’t offer Stow ‘n Go second-row seats, because that’s where the electric motor’s batteries hide. Pacifica is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with a range of up to 33 miles in EV mode before the gas engine kicks in. The hybrid system puts out a combined 260 horsepower. Mileage is a city/highway combined 84 MPGe. Pricing begins at $31,140.
2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid
The main difference between the regular Ford Fusion and its hybrid variant is the Fusion Hybrid delivers 42 mpg combined with the regular Fusion’s best 27 mpg combined. The loss of a little trunk space to accommodate the battery is a pretty good trade off. Total power output of the hybrid system is 188 hp. Ford builds all manner of technology into this sedan, like MyFord mobile app support and MyKey parental control capability. Prices begin at just over $26,000.
2018 Hyundai Kona
With its two gasoline engines currently available, Kona may not match our first two picks in mileage, but a fully electric Kona arrives this fall. In the meantime, choosing either of its gas engines (2L or 1.6L turbo) earns a combined fuel economy of 30 mpg. Kona is all new this year. Somewhat smaller than its key competitors, such as Subaru Crosstrek and Jeep Renegade, it delivers sharp styling, scads of standard content and makes available Blue Link with Alexa capability. Prices begin at $20,450.
2019 Honda Insight
Scheduled to arrive in showrooms this summer, the 2019 Insight is expected to deliver 55 mpg in city driving from its 151-hp hybrid system. Although Honda sees battery power providing most of the propulsion with the engine serving more as a generator to recharge the battery, the gas engine will kick in for highway driving. There will be three grades, but every Insight will come with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and LED exterior lighting. The top-end Touring trim provides over-the-air software updates. No pricing announced as of yet, but think $25,000 to $30,000.
2018 Lexus NX 300h
The smaller of Lexus hybrid crossovers, the combined output of the NX’s hybrid system is 194 hp, and it provides a government-estimated 33 mpg city/30 mpg highway. Around since the 2015 model year, the NX 300h has been no cookie-cutter crossover. It doesn’t look like anything in its segment. Offered in only one grade, it comes with lots of goodies, like automatic dual-zone climate control, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, Siri Eyes Free Mode and an 8-speaker audio system with navigation. Pricing begins under $40,000.
2018 Nissan Leaf
The best-selling EV in the world, Leaf returned for 2018 with a radically redesigned exterior, new e-pedal mode and more range (up to 150 miles), as well as available Nissan ProPilot Assist. Putting out 147 hp, the electric motor uses a 192-cell lithium-ion battery with maximum full recharge times of 7.5 hours with a 220-volt charger and 35 hrs with a 110-volt charger. Opt for the available Quick Charge and return to 80 percent charge from zero in about 40 minutes. There’s a load of standard and available technology. Pricing begins at $30,875.
2018 Toyota Prius
Talking about Prius is like discussing the Ford F-150 pickup — there are so many versions, it can’t be done within a short time or small space. Prius is really a brand within a brand. Toyota breaks them into separate models, so it should be okay for us to do the same and focus on just one. Prius Prime is a comfy PHEV getting up to 25 miles of EV range. Combined hybrid-system horsepower is 121. It delivers 54 mpg in combined driving. Charging requires 5.5 hours with a 110-volt station and just over 2 hours with 240 volts. Pricing starts at $27,995.
2018 Volvo XC60 T8 eAWD
Capable of scooting to 60 miles per hour from a stop in about five seconds, the 400-hp XC60 T8 eAWD is a wild blend of family utility, performance and efficiency. A PHEV, it can travel up to 18 miles in EV mode and delivers 26 mpg in combined driving. Charging from a 240-volt source is about 2.5 hours, or from a 110-volt outlet in around 7 hours. Redesigned for 2018, this hybrid crossover looks good inside and out. In most respects, it’s just like the regular XC60 that was an Autotrader Must Test Drive pick. It offers a wide range of driver-assist/safety features. Pricing begins at $53,895.
Certified Pre-owned 2015 Chevrolet Volt
This was a car Chevrolet hyped for what seemed like a decade before it first hit showrooms. In 2015, it had the best EV range of any PHEV. What made the Volt so unique was that it could operate under electric power only (40-mile range) and when that was depleted, switch seamlessly to its gas engine that acted as a generator powering the electric motor. Total range is more than 300 miles. Recharging it takes about 3 hours with a 240-volt system. It’s loaded with technology like Chevrolet MyLink, OnStar and in-car Wi-Fi. Pricing is in the $17,000 to $19,000 range.
Certified Pre-owned 2015 Kia Soul EV
Debuting in 2015, the Soul EV arrived on the scene with more cargo capacity than most EVs. The regular Soul incited a watershed change in Kia, dramatically changing the Korean manufacturer. As such, it provided an excellent starting point to create an EV. With a range of as much as 93 miles, the electric motor produces 109 hp. Charging with a 110-volt system requires roughly 24 hours, but a 240-volt system can recharge it in about five hours. Kia only offered the Soul EV in two trims. Even the entry-level grade has auto-on headlights, heated outboard mirrors, automatic climate control and an 8-inch touchscreen interface. CPO pricing ranges from $14,000 to $18,000.
Certified Pre-owned 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid
All new for 2014, the Accord Hybrid didn’t change much the following year. Basically an Accord sedan with a Honda’s hybrid system, the Accord Hybrid delivers 47 mpg in combined driving. That’s 16 mpg better than the most fuel-stingy gas-fueled Accord that year. The combined output of the hybrid system is 196 hp. All the room and amenities of the Accord, plus significantly improved mileage — what’s not to like? Even then, this sedan came standard with a backup camera and blind spot monitoring. Other standard goodies include automatic dual-zone climate control, an 8-in touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity. Pricing ranges from $21,000 to $27,000.