If you’re looking for a fuel efficient used car, you’ve got a lot of options, even if you’re on a tight budget. Here we’ve outlined seven of our favorite modern used cars that achieve over 35 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. We tried to cover a broad array of body styles with our recommendations, and with everything from small cars to a minivan on our list, there should be something for almost everyone.
2016-2018 Toyota Prius
It’s only fair to start this list off with the Toyota Prius. The fourth-generation Prius went on sale as a 2016 model and offers exceptional fuel economy, with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings of 54 mpg in the city, 50 mpg on the highway and 52 mpg combined. Needless to say, these figures are well beyond the 35 mpg requirement for inclusion on this list, and represent some of the most impressive figures for any non-plug-in hybrid vehicle on sale in the U.S. today. Other convenient features offered on the Prius include active safety technology like automatic emergency braking and a convenient hatchback design that allows it to swallow more cargo than you’d probably expect. As the fourth-gen Prius has been out for a few years now, buyers can pick up an early example for a pretty decent deal, and there are currently over 1,000 listed for sale on Autotrader, many of which come with low miles and cost around $15,000. Find a Toyota Prius for sale
2017-2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Given their heft and general lack of aerodynamics, minivans aren’t renowned for their fuel economy — 35 mpg is pretty much unheard of in this segment. The Chrysler Pacifica is an exception to this rule though, at least in its segment-exclusive hybrid trim. The Pacifica Hybrid is technically a plug-in, and is capable of returning an EPA-rated 84 MPGe when driven with a fully charged battery, or 32 mpg combined without the aid of battery propulsion. Given that the Pacifica Hybrid comes with a $7,500 federal tax rebate at the time it’s purchased new, depreciation tends to hit these vans pretty hard, and there are currently close to 150 listed for sale on Autotrader, many of which come with low miles and are priced at well under $30,000. Find a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid for sale
2013-2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid
Not quite a luxury car, the Toyota Avalon has long been offered as a larger, more comfortable, slightly more upscale alternative to the Camry. While an all-new fifth-generation Avalon just went on sale for the 2019 model year, the fourth-generation model was sold from 2013 through 2018, and with it came the first ever Avalon Hybrid. The Avalon Hybrid sold over these years returned 40 mpg city/39 mpg hwy/40 mpg combined. Combine this with Toyota’s reputation for reliability and dependability, and you’re looking at one big, comfortable, efficient sedan that should have plenty of life left in it for its next owners.
As the Avalon is a little more expensive and nowhere near as ubiquitous as the Camry, there aren’t quite as many on the used market. Still, they’re out there, and there are over 300 currently listed for sale on Autotrader. Narrow your search to include only updated 2015 to 2018 models with 45,000 or fewer miles on the odometer, and this figure shrinks to a still reasonable 125 examples to choose from. Expect to pay around $20,000 for a nicely equipped fourth-generation Avalon Hybrid with under 50,000 miles on the clock. Find a Toyota Avalon Hybrid for sale
2015-2018 Honda Fit
The subcompact Honda Fit is heralded for offering great driving dynamics, a surprisingly nice interior and clever features like a front passenger seat that folds flat to allow for long cargo items to be hauled inside the cabin. It also returns exceptional fuel economy, with EPA ratings of 33 mpg city/40 mpg hwy/36 mpg combined when fitted with an automatic transmission, which in the case of the Fit is a continuously variable unit referred to as a “CVT.” Output comes in at 128 horsepower, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but gets the job done for a vehicle of this size.
Expect to pay around $15,000 for a third-generation Fit from the 2015 to 2018 model years with between 20,000 and 40,000 miles on the odometer. There are currently right around 1,000 such examples listed for sale on Autotrader. Find a Honda Fit for sale
2013-2018 Ford C-MAX
Ford offered the C-Max as an alternative to the venerable Toyota Prius. Offered over six model years from 2013 to 2018, the C-MAX came in a unique 5-door body style, much like the Prius V. No regular gas-powered version was offered — the C-MAX was only available as a hybrid or as a plug-in hybrid. Feature content was pretty respectable, with a hands-free power lift gate, a navigation system and an automated parallel parking system all on the table.
Currently on Autotrader, there are over 1,000 examples of the C-MAX listed for sale, all of which are used given that the vehicle went out of production after the 2018 model year. Expect to pay about $15,000 for an example from later in the vehicle’s production run. Not bad given that it comes with loads of cabin space and makes 188 hp while still returning close to 40 mpg combined, and offers up to 20 miles of all-electric range if you opt for the plug-in ‘Energi’ model. Find a Ford C-MAX for sale
2013-2018 FIAT 500
If you live in an urban area and are looking to drive something unique on a budget, consider a used Fiat 500e. Thanks to depreciation, these battery-powered Fiats are cheap, and it isn’t hard to find one from the model’s earlier years for as little as $8,000. Right now on Autotrader, there are over 60 used Fiat 500es listed that would meet these credentials.
Thanks to its diminutive size, the 500 can offer up to 84 miles of range from its small battery pack, or 112 MPGe combined according to the EPA’s conversion. While it won’t be the fastest or the biggest or the flashiest car around, a simple Fiat 500e is both efficient and quirky, which should fit the bill for more than a few buyers. Find a Fiat 500 for sale
2016-2018 Chevrolet Volt
Like most plug-in hybrids, the Volt can run on either gasoline or electricity. In the second-generation model, a small battery pack offers up to 53 miles of electric only range. Deplete the battery pack fully, and a small gasoline engine kicks on to keep it charged, meaning that you can continue driving for as long as you want after you’ve used up your electric range. The other great thing is that once the battery is depleted, the Volt still returns 42 mpg. Beyond this, the Volt came with a practical hatchback body style and, in second-generation models, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The second-gen Volt was sold from 2016 to 2018, and buyers currently have about 1,000 used examples to choose from listed on Autotrader. Many of these come with well under 30,000 miles on the odometer and cost around $20,000 or less. Find a Chevrolet Volt for sale