Consumer Reports recently announced its annual used cars ratings, and we weren't surprised to see one of the major categories was "Best in Fuel Economy." With gasoline and oil prices on a seemingly endless upward spiral, that's a key factor these days when choosing a used car -- or even a new one.
The cars that made this list were, according to Consumer Reports, "the affordable and reliable vehicles [that] returned some of the best results in our real-world fuel-economy tests."
Consumer Reports broke them up into two groups: "Under $10,000" and "$10,000 - $20,000."
What follows is a list of the vehicles that Consumer Reports rated "Best in Fuel Economy," with a short description of each vehicle. The mileage figures stated are the ones calculated by Consumer Reports in their own on-the-road tests.
$10,000 -- $20,000
2004 - '06 Toyota Prius || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 44
One of the greenest and most fuel-efficient cars on the road, the Prius hybrid made big waves when it came along in the early part of the decade, due to its fuel-sipping synergy of a gasoline engine and electric motor. Starting with the redesigned '04 model year, the Prius power plant -- a combination of a gas engine and electric motor -- yielded a combined net hp of 110.
2003 Toyota Prius || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 41
The '03 Prius was powered by 1.5 liter four-cylinder gas engine and electric motor that generated a combined net hp of 103. The Prius -- the most popular of all the hybrids -- is nicely-designed, with a futuristic "pod"-type look that appeals to tech-heads, and is roomy to boot.
2006 - '07 Honda Civic Hybrid || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 37
When the Civic Hybrid was redesigned in '06, the engine was tweaked with i-VTEC technology to deliver combined net hp of 113. The '06-'07 models also strike a different profile than the previous generation, and come with some extras not found on previous editions, such as Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure and an optional Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition.
2003-'05 Honda Civic Hybrid || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 36
Another very popular green machine, the '03-'05 Civic Hybrid is affordable, dependable and, of course, miserly when it comes to fuel consumption. That's due to its combination of a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and a brushless electric motor which yielded a combined net hp of 93.
2007 Honda Fit & Fit Sport || Find It Used
Fit Sport Overall MPG: 34
Fit Base Overall MPG: 32
The Fit was brand-new for '07, and impressed with its nimble handling, punchy performance and practicality. In addition to the Sport, the '07 Fit is available in a base trim line. Both come with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive and a choice of five-speed manual or five-speed automatic.
2007 Toyota Yaris || Find It Used
Liftback Overall MPG: 34
Sedan Overall MPG: 33
The '07 Yaris boasts stylish design, smooth driveability, brisk performance and a solid, well-crafted interior for an entry-level car,. The Liftback comes in only one flavor, but the sedan can also be ordered in the sportier S model. The '07 Yaris was powered by a small but spiffy 1.5-liter engine that put out 106 hp. The Yaris was a new model for '07.
2004 - '06 Scion xB || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 32/30
A five-seat wagon, the Scion xB has a distinctly European look, with unique, boxy body lines that definitely stand out in a crowd -- and it's stylish inside, too. The '04-'06 has a 103 hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and comes with either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, both of which got high mileage marks from Consumer Reports.
2006 Scion xA || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 31/30
The Scion xA is a small hatchback that can seat five. It is smartly constructed and offers a smooth, quiet ride, surprising roominess and reliability. It's billed as a "youthful" entry to lure that Gen Y buyer. The '06 is powered by a 103 hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder. It comes with either five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.
2006 - '07 Honda Civic EX || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 31
The Civic has been one of the industry's standard-bearers when it comes to quality, reliability and affordability. In '06, it was redesigned with more stylish body lines. This Civic comes in many trim levels, but it was the EX that Consumer Reports chose for its list. The Civic could be optioned with a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder.
2004 - 07 Mazda3 i || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 30
The Mazda3 caused many hearts to flutter when it was first introduced, due to its premium accoutrements, dashing profile, and the fact that it was just flat-out fun to drive. For fuel economy, Consumer Reports chose the entry level i model, which has a 148-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
2006 Mini Cooper Hatchback || Find It Used
Overall MPG: 30
The Mini Cooper has garnered a lot of attention the past few years, due to its compact size, sporty handling and youth appeal. Even with its "mini" size, which allows it to be parked in the tiniest parking spots. It still seats four, and is surprisingly spacious. The '06 was powered by a transversely mounted 115-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with manual and automatic transmissions are available.