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Hatchbacks with Good Fuel Economy

Hatchbacks with Good Fuel EconomyHatchbacks with Good Fuel Economy

Anyone who owns a car can tell you that what you pay at the dealership is just the first of many expenses associated with owning a car. One of the most frequent expenses is gas.

If you drive a hatchback, odds are you’re not spending too much on fuel. Since hatchbacks tend to be smaller cars, they have thrifty engines that don’t drink as much fuel. Here’s what you need to know to find a fuel-sipping hatchback.

Hatchback Fuel Economy and You

A lot of drivers forget the single most important factor in determining the kind of fuel economy their hatchback gets: themselves. How you drive affects how much gas you use, as does where you drive. If you hammer the accelerator and slam on the brakes in a lot of stop-and-go traffic, you’re going to use more gas than if you just let the car creep and coast along. As they say, your mileage may vary, and it varies a lot depending on your driving habits.

To get the best fuel economy from your hatchback, avoid hard acceleration. Accelerating gradually lets you build up momentum to get going, which saves fuel. Also avoid hard stops, which rob your car of its momentum. If you see a red light ahead, instead of accelerating toward it, stopping at it, then taking off as soon as it turns green, try coasting toward it.

Hybrid and Electric Hatchbacks

One of the easiest ways to save fuel is to get a hybrid hatchback, but keep in mind that hybrids generally have higher base prices than their gas-only counterparts. Hatchbacks like the Chevrolet Volt, Lexus CT200h, Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Honda CR-Z all have hybrid gasoline/electric powertrains. That means these cars are equipped with a small gasoline engine and an electric motor. At slow speeds and when the car is stopped, the gasoline engine will often shut off. This saves fuel, and means that you’ll have to fill up less often. Just be aware that these models tend to cost more upfront than a car that has a gas-only powertrain.

If you really want to cut your gasoline use, the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i are all-electric hatchbacks, which means they don’t have a gasoline engine at all. To power the Leaf and the i, you charge them through either a household outlet or a charging station. Depending on conditions, the Leaf can travel about 73 miles on a charge, and the Mitsubishi i can travel about 62 miles. Though you’ll never need gasoline, electric cars do have downsides. It can take up to 22.5 hours to fully charge the Mitsubishi i, for example. Public charging ports are becoming more common, but are still hard to come by. Right now, all-electric hatchbacks are best suited for shorter trips.

Diesel Hatchbacks

Diesel engines are becoming more common on American roads, and hatchbacks are being fitted with a majority of them. Diesel hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf TDI and Audi A3 TDI, which have turbocharged, direct injection engines, deliver outstanding fuel economy of up to 30/42 mpg city/highway.

With diesel hatchbacks, you’ll have to pay more money up front to save more fuel. The diesel engines make the Golf and A3 some of the most expensive models in their classes, and diesel fuel costs more than regular gasoline.

Conventional Hatchbacks

Even if you don’t pick a hybrid, electric or diesel hatchback, you can get good gas mileage with a conventional gasoline-powered hatchback. Engine technologies like direct injection and tuirbocharging improve fuel economy without sacrificing power.

Most hatchbacks get good fuel economy simply by virtue of being small, light cars with fuel-sipping engines. The Ford Fiesta gets an EPA-estimated 29/40 mpg city/highway with a special super fuel economy (SFE) package. That’s almost as good as some diesel hatchbacks and hybrids.  

Hatchbacks with Good Fuel Economy

Model

Gasoline Type

Highest EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy Ratings (mpg city/highway)

Hybrid Hatchbacks

Chevrolet Volt

Premium

35/40

Toyota Prius

Regular

51/48

Honda CR-Z

Regular

35/39

Lexus CT200h

Regular

43/40

Honda Insight

Regular

41/44

Diesel Hatchbacks

Audi A3 TDI

Diesel

30/42

Volkswagen Golf TDI

Diesel

30/42

Conventional Hatchbacks

Honda Fit

Regular

25/35

Kia Forte Eco

Regular

27/37

Mazda3 Skyactiv

Regular

28/39

Electric Hatchbacks

Nissan Leaf  

None

106/92 (mpg-e)

Mitsubishi i

None

126/99 (mpg-e)