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6 Used Cars Under $12,000 That Get 40 Miles per Gallon

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2015

If you're looking for a used car on a budget, our latest list is for you. We've listed six used cars to appeal to budget-minded drivers in two key ways. First, these cars have average asking prices of around $12,000 or less, and second, they boast fuel economy ratings of more than 40 miles per gallon, which ensures affordability at the gas pump. Buy one of the cars on our list, and your wallet will thank you.

2012-2014 Chevrolet Sonic

The Chevrolet Sonic is a popular subcompact car offering several impressive benefits. The most obvious is fuel economy. Choose a Sonic with the optional turbocharged engine and a manual transmission, and you'll see 27 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The subcompact Sonic also offers other alluring features such as standard Bluetooth and automatic headlights and, with the turbocharged engine, a peppy 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Best of all, there are more than 2,200 different Sonic models listed on Autotrader for around $12,000 or less, so you should have no trouble finding one in the color you want with the features you need.

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2011-2015 Ford Fiesta

There are two distinct ways to receive 40 mpg in Ford's handsome Fiesta subcompact. From 2011 to 2013, you had to choose a standard Fiesta and opt for the SFE package for 29 mpg city/40 mpg hwy. Beginning in 2014, Ford added a tiny 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine to the car's lineup, which delivered 31 mpg city/43 mpg hwy. Either way, you'll have no trouble finding the Fiesta you want on Autotrader, as there are more than 3,600 different 2011-2015 models currently listed on the site for around $12,000 or less, a huge variety including sedans, hatchbacks and a wide range of trim levels.

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2006-2011 Honda Civic Hybrid

The second-generation version of Honda's Civic Hybrid compact car, which was sold from 2006 to 2011, currently offers the best value for the money among Honda models returning 40 mpg or more. It isn't too old (like the first-generation model) or too expensive (like the current version), as there are nearly 400 examples of the 2006-2011 Civic Hybrid currently listed on Autotrader for around $12,000 or less. Most importantly, each one comes with a 110-hp 1.3-liter 4-cylinder hybrid engine, which touts 40 mpg city/45 mpg hwy, along with luxury features such as automatic climate control, a power sunroof, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and more.

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2011-2013 Nissan LEAF

You can't say the Nissan LEAF doesn't return at least 40 mpg. In fact, the 5-door hatchback doesn't use any gasoline at all, touting a fully electric drivetrain and a range of more than 70 miles between charges. Your only cost will be installing an electric charger and maybe a slight increase in your electric bill, but after that, your LEAF will keep your wallet completely safe from the gas pump. Despite relatively high prices when new, used LEAF models are surprisingly cheap to buy. There are currently 450 different 2011-2013 examples listed on Autotrader for around $12,000 or less, each of which includes a long list of standard features such as automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry, an iPod interface and satellite radio.

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2010-2013 Toyota Prius

If you're looking to save money on your car and at the gas pump, there's a lot to like about the 2010-2013 Toyota Prius. One reason is its pricing. Despite high demand when new, used Prius models are affordable now, with nearly 800 different 2010-2013 examples available on Autotrader for around $12,000 or less. Then there's the gas mileage: A 2010-2013 Prius returns an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 51 mpg city/48 mpg hwy, which seems accurate based on our real-world measurements. Those figures place it among the most fuel-efficient used cars on the market. As a bonus, the Prius also offers legendary Toyota reliability and amazing interior space for a small car, both in the passenger compartment and in back, where a cavernous trunk touts enough room to carry more than you might think.

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2009-2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Although the 2009-2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is currently under fire for a dubious emissions profile, there's no doubt the compact car offers excellent fuel economy. In fact, the 2009-2012 Jetta TDI boasts up to 30 mpg city/42 mpg hwy, which is better than nearly all compact-car rivals. The Jetta TDI also offers solid construction, an available station-wagon body style and, on the used market, surprisingly reasonable pricing. There are currently around 750 different 2009-2012 models available on Autotrader for around $12,000 or less. While you may be subject to a recall in the future, you should have no trouble buying a used Jetta TDI now and benefiting from its impressive fuel economy.

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RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan
Used 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
$5,930
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Chevrolet Sonic LS Sedan
Used 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
$7,481
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Chevrolet Sonic RS Sedan
Used 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
$10,122
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan
Used 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
$6,995
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
6 Used Cars Under $12,000 That Get 40 Miles per Gallon - Autotrader