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Top 10 hybrid cars for fuel economy (July 2014)

While electric cars and plug-in hybrids get the lion’s share of media attention, the hybrid segment has quietly become mainstream. There’s a plethora of models in a variety of configurations, but what about the thing that matters most to hybrid buyers? Which hybrids are the most fuel efficient?

The list is based on fuel-economy ratings published on the EPA’s fueleconomy.gov website. All models are currently on sale. One omission worth noting, however, is the 2014 Honda Insight, which was discontinued mid-model year but would have made the list otherwise.

So, in order of ascending efficiency…

Click on the image of each car to go the model post (if available).

10

2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-02Like the Fusion, the Ford C-Max Hybrid was also affected by overly optimistic fuel economy ratings. The revised rating for this car is 40 mpg combined (42 mpg city, 37 mpg highway).

The C-Max uses the same powertrain as the Fusion, so you’ll find a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motor, and lithium-ion battery pack under the bodywork. However, the C-Max’s taller bodywork hurts aerodynamics a bit.

That’s the price of practicality, along with a base sticker of $24,995, of course.

9

2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-01Not every Toyota hybrid is a hatchback. The 2014 Camry Hybrid is a version of America’s bestselling sedan that’s rated at 41 mpg combined (43 mpg city, 39 mpg highway).

The Camry Hybrid features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor good for a combined 200 hp, while a nickel-metal hydride battery pack stores energy.

Pricing starts at $26,330, but there’s a throughly-updated 2015 model on the way as part of a revamp of the entire Camry lineup.

8

2014 Lexus CT 200h

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-03The CT 200h is the only luxury car to crack the hybrid top 10, largely thanks to its small size and economical powertrain. Many buyers might scoff at the idea of a compact front-wheel drive “luxury” hatchback. Yet for buyers desiring a combination of efficiency and comfort, the Lexus delivers.

It’s rated at 42 mpg combined (43 mpg city, 40 mpg highway) and features a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor that produce a combined 134 hp. Pricing for the refreshed 2014 model starts at $32,960.

7

2014 Toyota Prius v

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-10The tall-wagon version of the Prius features added utility compared to the other models, but that comes with a noticeable drop in fuel economy. A rating of 42 mpg combined (44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway) isn’t bad, though.

The Prius v features essentially the same powertrain as the Prius Liftback, including a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motor, and nickel-metal hydride battery pack. It starts at $27,560.

6

2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-08Even though Ford was forced to lower its fuel-economy rating, the Fusion Hybrid is still among the most efficient cars of its kind. The 2014 model is rated at 42 mpg combined (44 mpg city, 41 mpg highway), down from the original 47 mpg combined (47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway).

The Fusion Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which provide a combined 188 hp. A lithium-ion battery pack provides energy storage. Pricing starts at $27,300.

5

2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-07Volkswagen may be known for its TDI diesels, but the Jetta Hybrid finds its way onto the middle of this list with a respectable 45 mpg combined (42 mpg city, 48 mpg highway).

The powertrain that makes those numbers possible includes a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 150 hp, an electric motor that adds 27 hp, and a lithium-ion battery pack.

Pricing for the 2014 model starts at $28,465, and a refreshed model is coming for 2015.

4

2014 Honda Civic Hybrid

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-05Or, if your garage is a bit small, how about a Honda Civic Hybrid? The Civic is rated at 45 mpg combined (44 mpg city, 47 mpg highway).

The compact Civic uses a more conventional Integrated Motor Assist powertrain, consisting of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a single electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery pack.

The car received a slight refresh for the 2014 model year, adding a few features with a starting price of $25,425.

3

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-04The Honda Accord Hybrid may not look as radical as its plug-in sibling, but under the skin is a novel electronic clutch pack in place of a normal transmission. It’s teamed with a 141-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s mostly used as a generator, a pair of electric motors, and a lithium-ion battery pack.

The result is 47 mpg combined (50 mpg city, 45 mpg highway) in the body of one of the bestselling midsize sedans in the U.S. It all starts at $29,155.

2

2014 Toyota Prius Liftback

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-06Despite its larger size, the world’s most popular hybrid is still almost as efficient as its little brother. A fuel economy rating of 50 mpg combined (51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway) comes with the added practicality of a larger five-door body.

The Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 98 hp, while an electric motor adds 80 hp and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack provides the juice.

Prius pricing starts at $24,200, but there’s also an all-new model expected to debut next year.

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Toyota Prius c

2014-best-fuel-economy-hybrids-09The smallest member of Toyota’s Prius “family” essentially ties the original Prius Liftback for fuel efficiency. Both cars achieve 50 mpg combined, but the c gets 53 mpg city compared to 51 mpg for the Liftback.

On the highway, the c gets 46 mpg, while the Liftback gets 48 mpg.Buyers, then, will have to decide if a slight bump in city fuel economy is worth the loss in practicality that comes with the smaller Prius c.

The little hybrid features a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motor, and nickel-metal hydride battery pack good for a combined 99 horsepower. It starts at $19,890 (including destination).

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