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13 most fuel-efficient new cars, 2014

The vehicles we spotlight here are the least thirsty in their price categories, based on annual fuel costs. The fuel cost assumes 15,000 miles of combined city and highway driving each year and gasoline prices of $3.40 a gallon for regular, $3.70 for premium and $3.90 for diesel, or for electric cars, 12 cents per kilowatt hour.

Many of the winners sport an alternative powertrain: either gas-electric hybrid or all electric. "Green" is still a red-hot buzzword in the auto industry, with carmakers competing to showcase their commitment to fuel economy. All electric vehicles qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

To be eligible for the most-fuel-efficient award, each model must have been designated a top 25 pick in its category, and no vehicle can win if another trim level of that model has won in a lower-price category.

13 most fuel-efficient new cars, 2014

1. Under $20,000: Toyota Prius c One
MPG: City: 53; Hwy: 46
MSRP: $19,890

2. $20,000-$25,000: Honda Insight LX
MPG: City: 41; Hwy: 44
MSRP: $21,290

3. $25,000-$30,000: Chevrolet Spark EV
MPGe: City: 128; Hwy: 109
MSRP: $27,495 (1LT)

4. $30,000-$40,000: Honda Fit EV
MPGe: City: 132; Hwy: 105
MSRP: $37,415

5. $40,000-$50,000: Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid
MPG: City: 47; Hwy: 46
MSRP: $40,570

6. $50,000 and Over: Tesla Model S
MPGe: City: 88; Hwy: 90
MSRP: $91,070

7. Sports Cars: Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ (TIE)
MPG: City: 25; Hwy: 34
MSRP: $26,555/$29,490

8. Wagons: Ford C-Max SE
MPG: City: 45; Hwy: 40
MSRP: $25,995

9. Minivans: Honda Odyssey LX
MPG: City: 19; Hwy: 28
MSRP: $29,655

10. Small Crossovers: Nissan Rogue S
MPG: City: 26; Hwy: 33
MSRP: $23,350

11. Midsize Crossovers: Lexus RX 450h
MPG: City: 32; Hwy: 28
MSRP: $47,320

12. Large Crossovers: Acura MDX
MPG: City: 20; Hwy: 28
MSRP: $43,185

13. Truck-based SUVs: Toyota 4Runner SR5
MPG: City: 17; Hwy: 22
MSRP: $33,680

SOURCES: Kelley Blue Book (new-vehicle data, ownership costs); Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Top Safety Picks); (plug-in vehicle annual fuel costs)