• Buying Guides

What's Considered Good Gas Mileage?

By Michael O'Connor | March 22, 2023

These days, 23 MPG or higher in combined EPA fuel economy is considered good gas mileage for your vehicle.

Of course, some hybrid models dwarf that figure these days, getting up to 58 or 59 MPG; and even some non-hybrid models can get well into the high 30's or even low 40's in terms of MPGs.

But what about your car? There are all kinds of factors that will affect the mileage you get and how efficient your vehicle will be.

Knowing how different things can contribute to your car’s fuel efficiency and what cars get the best gas mileage can help you save some money when you fill up before your daily commute or regular city driving.

No matter what time of year it is or what the economy is like, the price of gas will almost always be an issue for most drivers. The price you pay at the gas station will affect things like how often you drive and what kind of driving you do regularly. If your car uses gasoline, the odds are good that you will want to figure out how to keep your costs low and your fuel economy high.

Most Fuel-Efficient Cars By Type of Vehicle

Knowing which vehicles get the best gas mileage can help you choose one that will work best for you and your driving needs. The EPA estimates the gas mileage of new vehicles and can give you an accurate figure that will help you decide. This is usually expressed as a combination of city and highway gas mileage, which can vary due to the difference in driving styles needed for each condition.

Most Fuel-Efficient Passenger Cars (Including EVs):

  • Two-Seaters: Mazda MX-5: 30 MPG combined
  • MiniCompacts: MINI Cooper Convertible: 30 MPG combined
  • Subcompacts: MINI Cooper SE Hardtop 2-Door: 110 MPGe combined
  • Compacts: Porsche Taycan (with Performance Battery): 75 MPGe combined
  • Midsize: Tesla Model 3 RWD: 132 MPGe combined
  • Large: Lucid Air G Touring AWD w/19in wheels: 131 MPGe combined
  • Small Wagons: Chevrolet Bolt: 120 MPGe combined
  • Midsize Wagons: Volvo V90XC B6 AWD: 25 MPG combined

Most Fuel-Efficient Passenger Cars (Excluding EVs):

  • Two-Seaters Mazda MX-5: 30 MPG combined
  • MiniCompacts MINI Cooper Convertible: 32 MPG combined
  • Subcompacts Chevrolet Spark: 33 MPG combined
  • Compacts Toyota Corolla Hybrid: 47 MPG combined
  • Midsize Toyota Prius Eco: 56 MPG combined
  • Large Hyundai Ioniq Blue: 59 MPG combined
  • Small Wagons Kia Niro FE: 50 MPG combined
  • Midsize Wagons Volvo V90XC B6 AWD: 25 MPG combined

Most Fuel-Efficient Trucks, Vans, and SUVs Excluding Electric

  • Small Pickup Trucks: Ford Maverick HEV FWD: 37 MPG combined
  • Standard Pickup Trucks: Chevrolet Silverado 2WD: 27 MPG combined
  • Small SUVs: Ford Escape FWD HEV: 41 MPG combined
  • Standard SUVs: Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD: 35 MPG combined
  • Minivans: Toyota Sienna Hybrid 2WD: 36 MPG combined

Difference Between MPG and MPGe

While MPG is fairly self-explanatory as standing for miles per gallon, MPGe has started coming up more recently with the advent of electric cars. MPGe means miles per gallon equivalent and is a way to give consumers an idea of what kind of mileage they will get from a full charge of their electric vehicle.

This term was figured out by the EPA as being 1 MPGe for every 33.7 kWh. Essentially, this means that 33.7 kWh of electricity is comparable to one gallon of fossil fuel. While this isn’t an exact comparison, it is close enough to give you an idea of the energy consumption of an electric vehicle.

What Affects Fuel Economy?

While it is difficult to pin down exactly what affects your particular vehicle’s fuel economy, certain factors will almost always come into play. Everything from the driving conditions on the roads to the weather can change the number of miles per gallon you can get on any given day. Good gas mileage is the result of engineering, driving habits, and maintenance that you perform on your vehicle and they can all have a positive or negative effect on it.

Drivetrain Type:
Perhaps the biggest factor that comes into play when determining which cars get better gas mileage is the type of drivetrain your car has. Of course, the most fuel-efficient vehicles are going to be electric vehicles like the BMW i4, which require no fuel at all.

Close behind those are hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, which use a combination of a traditional gasoline engine and an electric motor, which is charged through the brakes and the gas engine or, in the case of a plug-in hybrid, through a standard outlet in your home.

When it comes to the fuel economy of a traditional internal combustion engine, different power ratings and types will all have an effect. Generally, a vehicle with lower horsepower is going to use less fuel since it will most likely be a smaller, more efficient engine with fewer cylinders to move.

What your car weighs will have a huge impact on how fuel-efficient it is. The heavier your vehicle is, the harder the engine has to work in order to turn the wheels. A Chevrolet Colorado will be less fuel-efficient than a Honda Accord based solely on the fact that it is a larger, heavier vehicle.

In this case, the engine will also have to be more powerful, which drops the efficiency even more. This is why small hatchbacks and crossovers like the Kia Sportage will be more efficient than full-size SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe.

If you are towing anything or hauling any loads with your vehicle, this will also greatly affect the fuel economy of your vehicle. On top of that, most vehicles that have large towing capacities will also have large engines that produce a lot of torque. Automakers and consumers will often sacrifice a good fuel economy rating if they know that a vehicle will be able to handle heavy-duty jobs.

Engine Displacement:
Displacement is an incredibly important consideration when it comes to the MPG rating of a vehicle. Displacement is the amount of air that is needed to produce a single revolution in the engine. This is most often expressed in liters, which is why you will see an engine described as being 2.5-liter, for example.

The more air that is needed to move the car along, the more energy the engine will expel, which increases the amount of fuel that is burned while the vehicle is in motion. Larger displacements will almost always result in lower fuel economy.

How your vehicle moves through the air will have a major effect on whether it gets a good MPG, and is especially important when it comes to highway MPG. Cars that get the best fuel economy will often have round, sleek designs that have a low profile. This helps the car limit wind resistance at higher speeds, which can cause the engine to have to work harder.

Vehicles like vans or trucks are often not very aerodynamic and will get lower fuel economy because of it. This is especially true for tall, lifted trucks that have a lot of drag, which is another term for wind resistance. Usually, if a vehicle has a lot of curves or a very low roofline, this is meant to reduce the drag and help the car move more freely through the air.

Aside from the powertrain type, mechanical resistance is one of the most important factors when determining whether a car gets good or bad gas mileage. Mechanical resistance is essentially the amount of energy it takes to move the car as that energy moves throughout every component.

This can include things like gears, bearings, pistons, and belts and it is very difficult to fine-tune. The less resistance the actual engine has to overcome to move the vehicle, the better gas mileage that vehicle will get.

Vehicle Condition:
The condition of your vehicle will also have a lot to do with how efficient the engine will be. In general, a new car will get more miles out of a gallon of gas than a used car will. This is due to many factors like the mechanical resistance of worn-out parts or simply new technologies that may have arisen since the used car was first designed and built. The newer the model year is for your vehicle, the better your gas mileage will be.

Regular maintenance can help improve your car’s fuel efficiency and help it run more reliably. A vehicle that gets regular oil and oil filter changes will get better gas mileage than a car that has been neglected. Running fuel injector cleaners can also help the injectors from becoming clogged, which will reduce fuel efficiency.

Front- or All-Wheel-Drive:
The configuration of your vehicle will make it more or less efficient due to the amount of work needed to turn the wheels. An all-wheel-drive vehicle offers a lot of benefits when it comes to handling and responsiveness but it will almost always result in lower fuel economy.
A front-wheel-drive car will get better gas mileage because it requires less energy to pull a car than it does to push it.

Difference Between MPG and GPM

Sometimes, you may see fuel economy expressed as GPM instead of MPG. This is a unit of measurement conceived of by Edmunds to show how many gallons of fuel a vehicle needs to travel 100 miles. For example, if a vehicle is rated at 12.5 GPM, it needs eight gallons of fuel to go 100 miles. This can sometimes be a better way to show how fuel-efficient a vehicle is depending on the circumstances.

Final Thoughts

Better fuel economy will always be an important consideration when purchasing a vehicle. Even though hybrid cars and EVs are becoming more popular, for the time being, gasoline is the primary fuel for most cars and gas prices will always be a consideration. Understanding what affects gas mileage and what is considered a good fuel efficiency rating can help you make the right decision when you are thinking about buying a new or used vehicle.