Surprising Gas Guzzlers and Fuel Savers
Things are not always what they seem, especially when it comes to fuel economy. Buying a small car doesn't necessarily guarantee great mileage, and buying an SUV doesn't have to mean you'll be spending a bundle at the pump.
We've scoured the fuel economy figures to bring you those closet gas guzzlers you'll want to avoid and surprising fuel sippers that are worth a second look.
Buick LaCrosse17/25 city/highway
#21 in Affordable Midsize Cars
For a midsize car, the V6-powered Buick LaCrosse sure likes the taste of gasoline. It has one of the lowest fuel economies in its class -- and its somewhat lackluster performance doesn't do much to make up for it.
Chrysler PT Cruiser19/24 city/highway
#3 in Affordable Compact Wagons
The PT Cruiser's base four-cylinder engine is criticized for being sluggish on the highway, but it at least delivers good fuel economy, right? Wrong. This compact wagon may rank highly, but it has the lowest combined fuel economy in its class.
Lexus LS 600h
Not Yet Ranked
The first luxury hybrid of its kind, the Lexus LS 600h sedan is upscale and surprisingly fun to drive despite a hybrid powertrain. Fuel economy is impressive considering the V8 engine, but don't be fooled by the hybrid buzz -- this car guzzles premium fuel almost as quickly as any other luxury sedan.
#17 in Affordable Small Cars
With standard all-wheel drive, the Subaru Impreza definitely stands out in its class. But the trade-off is fuel economy that can't even compare to most other small cars. For instance, while the Honda Civic averages 29 miles per gallon, the Impreza nets a paltry 22 mpg.
Suzuki Reno and Forenza
#28 and #29 in Affordable Small Cars
The Suzuki Reno and Forenza may be extremely affordable, but they'll cost you more than you think at the pump. Both feature small four-cylinder engines that offer adequate power at best -- and still manage to return lower fuel economy numbers than most compacts.
#5 in Upscale Small Cars
The Volvo S40's five-cylinder engine provides predictable performance, but its fuel economy is anything but. Its 23 mpg combined mileage is low for a small car, even when compared to other upscale sedans. Plus, it requires premium fuel.
Volkswagen New Beetle
#22 in Affordable Small Cars
The Volkswagen New Beetle has a nostalgic appeal, but its fuel economy figures seem to be stuck in the past as well. The little car's 23 mpg combined economy just can't compete with most others in its class.
Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
Not Yet Ranked
The limited-release Chevy Malibu Hybrid is relatively inexpensive for a hybrid, but it isn't nearly as fuel-efficient as other hybrid sedans. Plus, its 27 mpg combined fuel economy isn't much of an improvement over the conventional Malibu's 25 mpg.
23/31 city/highway (coupe), 22/29 (roadster)
#7 and #8 in Luxury Sports Cars
The Audi TT coupe and roadster may be criticized for their front-wheel-drive layouts (which enthusiasts say take away from their true sports car appeal), but their four-cylinder turbocharged engines offer something else that most sports cars don't -- excellent fuel economy.
Volkswagen Passat Wagon
#6 in Affordable Full Size Wagons
The Volkswagen Passat Wagon delivers the cargo space of a small SUV without the thirsty engine. Test drivers may complain about some mechanical shortcomings, but this IntelliChoice winner for Lowest Fuel Costs makes up for it with the highest fuel economy in its class.
Porsche Boxster and Cayman
20/29 city/highway (23)
#1 and #3 in Luxury Sports Cars
Porsche's Boxster convertible and Cayman coupe twins are true sports cars, making their excellent fuel economy figures that much more impressive. These high-ranking models achieve the best economy in their base trims, which feature mid-mounted 2.7-liter V6 engines and manual transmissions.
Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series Truck
#6 in Compact Pickup Trucks and Not Yet Ranked
Pickup trucks aren't known for good fuel economy, but the Ford Ranger and its Mazda B-Series platform-mate turn that assumption upside-down with their 23 mpg combined ratings. IntelliChoice names the trucks winners for SmartChoice Fuel Costs and Lowest Fuel Costs, respectively.
#1 in Affordable Large Cars
The Toyota Avalon doesn't rank at the top of its class for nothing. In addition to a spacious cabin, it delivers a powerful V6 engine that nets especially high fuel economy for a large sedan. The only drawback is a high base price -- but in this case, it might be worth it.
#7 in Luxury Large Cars
The smooth-riding Audi A6's base V6 engine boasts peppy acceleration and excellent fuel economy thanks to direct fuel-injection technology. But watch out, this luxury cruiser has a taste for premium fuel.
#1 in Affordable Performance Cars
The top-ranked Mazdaspeed3 offers competitive driving performance at a competitive price. Even better, its turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers impressive fuel economy for such a sporty car. But keep in mind that this puppy drinks premium.
Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI
#3 in Luxury Large SUVs
The only SUV to make our list, the Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI owes its fuel-sipping nature to the turbodiesel V6 engine under the hood. It may reach 0 to 60 miles per hour a little over two seconds slower than the GL450, but it will save an average of five miles per gallon.
Also see our slideshow for a pictorial look at our surprising gas guzzlers and fuel sippers.