Recent years have shown us that the sales performance of fuel-efficient vehicles tends to be pretty closely linked to gas prices. Still, savvy shoppers know that these frugal haulers offer great value in the long term, whether fuel prices are reasonable or through the roof.
If you're one such shopper, you'll want to check out our list of the 10 most fuel-efficient sedans offered in the U.S. market. Our rankings are based on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) miles-per-gallon ratings for city and highway travel. We tapped the EPA's combined fuel economy formula: 55 percent of city mpg rating plus 45 percent of highway mpg rating. Each car's rating is expressed in mpg as a city/highway ratio. All ratings apply to base models equipped with a manual transmission, except where indicated otherwise with an asterisk.
Each model was allowed only one appearance on the list. Our picks cover 2009 models, as well as 2010 cars rated by the EPA prior to publication.
1. 2010 Toyota Prius — 50/49*
The Prius is the sales leader with which other hybrids try to keep up. Toyota's ubiquitous pod-on-wheels has become somewhat iconic in certain circles, thanks to its one-two punch of high mileage and tons of interior room.
2. 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid — 40/45*
What's even more practical than a Honda Civic? A Civic Hybrid, if you care about mileage (and who doesn't?). This smart little four-door offers Civic reliability in a hybrid package.
3. 2010 Honda Insight — 40/43*
The first-generation Insight was a cramped, underpowered penalty box that was both wonderfully fuel-efficient and wildly impractical. With the current-generation model, the Insight has stepped up its game considerably. It's matured into the sort of well-rounded hybrid that could very well give the Prius a run for its money.
The Fusion Hybrid — along with its more upscale corporate cousin, the Mercury Milan Hybrid — represents the latest salvo in Ford's effort to offer fuel-efficient transportation. Both share top honors as the most frugal sedans in the midsize category.
6. 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI — 30/41
The Jetta TDI has long wooed shoppers with its turbodiesel goodness. After a brief hiatus, it's back on the market — and back atop our list.
7. 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid — 35/33*
If you're looking for pure driving enjoyment in a hybrid, the Altima Hybrid is as good as it gets. Alas, it's available in only eight states — California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
8. 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid — 33/34*
The Camry Hybrid offers exceptional fuel-efficiency, a spacious cabin and acceleration that enables it to leave competing four-cylinder sedans in the dust. What's not to love?
9. 2009 Toyota Yaris — 29/36
Thanks to a price tag that starts at just over $12 grand, the gas-sipping Yaris will save you money both at the dealership and at the pump. The car offers a comfortable ride, as well as a surprisingly stylish interior that stands as one of the most attractive in its class.
10. 2009 Toyota Corolla — 26/35
It's no accident that the Corolla is the world's best-selling car. It offers outstanding fuel economy, superb reliability and relatively refined handling.