Fuel-efficient sedans aren't the joyless penalty boxes they once were; the cars on our list of the 10 most frugal four-doors in the land are proof. In this remarkably diverse lineup, you'll find European refinement in the form of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI; engaging performance, thanks to the Nissan Altima Hybrid; and cosseting luxury via the Lexus HS 250h. There are also picks — such as the Toyota Yaris — that are tailor-made for shoppers on a budget.
Our rankings were determined using the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) miles-per-gallon ratings for city and highway travel. More specifically, we utilized the EPA's combined fuel-economy formula: 55 percent of city mpg rating plus 45 percent of highway mpg rating. The rating for each vehicle below is expressed in mpg as a city/highway ratio.
1. Toyota Prius — 51/48
When you think "hybrid," you think Prius — it's as simple as that. This Toyota is the best-selling hybrid by a landslide, thanks in no small part to its class-leading fuel economy.
2. Honda Civic Hybrid — 40/45
Most Civics boast above-average fuel-efficiency, but the Civic Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient of the lot. This appealing little four-door also brings a well-built interior and exceptional reliability to the table.
3. Honda Insight — 40/43
With less-than-stellar sales, the Insight hasn't been quite the Prius killer that Honda had hoped. However, don't let that be a turn-off — with a low price and enjoyable handling, the Insight has a lot in its favor.
4. Ford Fusion Hybrid — 41/36
Spunky and engaging, the Fusion Hybrid proves that hybrids can be fun to drive. Tech treats such as Ford's Sync system sweeten the deal.
5. Mercury Milan Hybrid — 41/36
Corporate twin to the Fusion Hybrid, the Milan Hybrid offers the same appealing driving dynamics as that Ford. However, this Mercury offers a more upscale driving experience, as is evidenced by its swank cabin.
6. Lexus HS 250h — 35/34
What do you get when you combine hybrid technology with Lexus luxury? You get the HS 250h, of course — a car that offers every accoutrement one could hope for in a high-end sedan.
7. Nissan Altima Hybrid — 35/33
With sporty handling and sharp, responsive steering, the Altima Hybrid is the hybrid for those who truly love to drive. Unfortunately, though, it's only available in the nine states that have adopted California's emissions standards.
8. Toyota Camry Hybrid — 33/34
A family-car benchmark, the Camry was the best-selling vehicle of 2009. The Camry Hybrid will be appealing to those considering this Toyota — it's quicker than its gas-powered sibling, in addition to being more fuel-efficient.
9. Volkswagen Jetta TDI — 33/34
The Volkswagen Jetta delivers Germanic refinement at a relatively affordable price. The Jetta TDI offers all that plus incredible fuel economy from its diesel engine. The ratings shown here are for the DSG transmission, which is slightly more fuel-efficient than the manual.
10. Toyota Yaris — 29/36
If you're minding your budget, you'll want to take a look at the Yaris. With a low price and impressive fuel economy, this Toyota has what it takes to help you save. Note that the EPA figures listed are for Yarises equipped with the manual transmission.