With gas prices in the stratosphere the last few months, we’re all rethinking the cars we drive, and maybe even the cars we thought we wanted to buy next. SUVs and pickups have been among the best-selling new cars for years, but now almost everyone is starting to think about whether it might be time to buy a hybrid or an electric car.
While EVs and hybrids are a great option for many people, there are a few reasons car shoppers might need to consider gas-powered alternatives. Chief among those reasons is the simple inability to get one. The ongoing supply chain issues and new car shortages—which are a result of both the pandemic and the war in Ukraine—mean that cars in general are in short supply. And the increased demand for electric and hybrid cars has made them all the more unobtanium. Even if you can find one that’s available, its price is likely to carry a substantial premium over MSRP. And used car prices have followed the above-average pricing trend.
No need to give up on gas, just yet
While gas prices are definitely inducing a level of pain at the pump that most of us haven’t seen in our lifetimes, there are some cars that make a tank go further than others. And they’re not all boring, gutless econoboxes, either. There are sporty sedans, true sports cars, and even pickup trucks and SUVs that actually get very good mileage. When you weigh that against the higher prices of EVs and hybrids, many of them are pretty smart buys. Here are our top picks for gas (and diesel) powered cars that get surprisingly good mileage.
1. Volkswagen Jetta
The venerable Jetta has always been a car with great gas mileage, but over the years its power and refinement—as well as its fuel efficiency—have benefitted from a lot of mechanical and electronic innovations. The recent model years are better than ever, and it gets an average of 35 miles to the gallon!
2. Porsche Macan
When you look at an SUV—even a smaller one like the Macan—it’s a natural reaction to assume it’s going to be a gas guzzler. But surprisingly, even though it’s a sporty and quick SUV, the Macan averages a respectable 26 miles per gallon. (You do have to stick with the 4-cylinder base Macan to get that kind of fuel economy, but its power and responsiveness won’t leave you wanting for the larger, thirstier 6 cylinder.)
3. Subaru Outback
The Outback has matured a lot in the past few decades, and the recent models are wildly popular, sporty, and versatile. Add to that its MPG of up to 33, and it’s got even more appeal! Its sporty sibling, the BRZ, gets equally good mileage—up to model year 2021. (The 2022 BRZ has a larger engine that sacrifices a couple of MPGs.)
4. Toyota Supra
The Supra is a legendary, fire-breathing sports car with a nostalgic heritage. The legend returned in 2018, and its latest incarnation is even more powerful and thrilling than its predecessors. It’s one of the last cars you’d expect to get good mileage… but at 28, it’s far more efficient than most people would probably imagine.
5. GMC Canyon 2WD diesel
Pickup trucks have gotten big lately. They’ve always been pretty imposing compared to other cars on the road, but in the last few years they seem to have grown burlier and bulkier than ever before. Amid all that brawn and utility, it’s natural to assume that gas mileage is out the window. But remarkably, the GMC Canyon—if you sacrifice 4WD and opt for diesel—averages 23 MPG. And it gets up to 30 on the highway!