Fuel prices are volatile. Even if the price of gasoline is low today, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg tomorrow to fill up at the tank. As a result, buyers will want to consider a fuel-efficient vehicle. The last thing that you want to do as a buyer is lock yourself into a gas guzzler when gas prices skyrocket because that will only blow your monthly budget. The good news is that there are a number of options available to you if you’re seeking a fuel-efficient domestic vehicle.
If you are looking to keep your costs of ownership low when you buy an American vehicle, read on below. We will share some more information on the top fuel-efficient domestic vehicles. But first, we can help you better understand the measures of fuel efficiency and how they are calculated.
How Real-World MPG Varies From the EPA Number
The miles per gallon that you see on the sticker may not be the exact MPG that you will get once you drive the car off the lot. In order to understand the numbers that you see, you need to know how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reaches these numbers in the first place.
The EPA tests cars indoors on a giant treadmill. Conditions in the real world are much tougher for cars than in the EPA’s indoor laboratory. As a result, what you see on the sticker is often a much rosier picture than what happens when you drive home in the car. Accordingly, you should be looking just as closely at real-world MPG before making a purchase.
In addition, your true mileage will depend on your own personal driving style. If you drive your car harder and faster, it will take more gasoline than if you had a light foot behind the wheel. Aggressive driving means that you will need to fill up more often.
There are other factors that will impact how much the real-world MPG differs from the advertised amount. One of the first things that can affect your miles per gallon is the weather in which you drive. Obviously, good weather is the ideal driving condition, while cold weather will cause your car to work harder. Additionally, properly inflated tires will allow your car to get better gas mileage. Finally, the regular maintenance of your vehicle will help fuel economy and performance.
When considering domestic cars that have a high fuel economy, there are a number of price points in the market. Most new domestic cars these days are actually in the light truck market. There are only a handful of domestic sedans still rolling off assembly lines. With that in mind, some of your best options will be in the crossover sector.
Here are seven of the top currently produced domestic models spread out among different classes, along with two popular used car models that are no longer sold new in the U.S.
Current Domestic Models
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax
Body: Pickup Truck
MPG: 23 city/33 highway
Range: 668 miles
Horsepower: 277 hp
Price: Starting from $28,500
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax gets a practically unheard of fuel efficiency for a pickup truck. In its class, this trim gets almost sedan-like fuel efficiency for a full-size pickup truck with 13,400 pounds of towing capacity. The fuel efficiency is only available with the turbodiesel engine.
Body: Small SUV
MPG: 22 city/29 highway
Range: 403 miles
Horsepower: 250 to 295 hp
Price: Starting at $36,940
The Corsair is Lincoln’s upscale entry into the small SUV market. Small does not necessarily mean underpowered as the 2.3-liter engine gives the car plenty of kick, all the while getting the fuel efficiency that you would expect from a small SUV. The Corsair offers drivers many standard safety features.
Body: Crossover SUV
MPG: 27 city/33 highway
Range: 444 miles
Horsepower: 165 to 250 hp
Price: $24,885 to $36,435
Ford’s light SUV was one of the first American-made light SUVs. It comes in a number of different trims ranging from the Escape S to the Escape Titanium. The top-of-the-line Titanium comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Body: Luxury Mid-size sedan
MPG: 20 city/30 highway
Horsepower: 237 to 325 hp
Price: $32,995 to $38,595
This is the replacement for the Cadillac ATS and comes in the Luxury, Premium and Sport editions. It is Detroit’s entry into the sport sedan market. There is an optional 10-speed automatic transmission that increases performance. Reviewers have noted that the real-world MPG is even better than the EPA numbers.
Body: Two-Door Performance Car
MPG: 19 city/30 highway on the base model
Range: 456 miles
Horsepower: 290 to 707 hp
Price: $29,000 to $69,000
We included this car because it is one of the better vehicles when it comes to muscle cars and fuel efficiency. There are seven available trims, ranging from the base SXT to the SRT Hellcat. The base models are the more fuel-efficient ones because the more powerful engine of the higher trims requires more fuel.
Body: Compact Sedan
MPG: 26 city/34 highway
Range: 366 miles
Horsepower: 138 hp
Price: Starts at $17,595
This is one of the few passenger sedans still made by Detroit. This compact sedan is surprisingly roomy for a compact car with ample room for passengers. The passenger space and cargo room do not come at the expense of fuel efficiency. The Sonic comes in the LS, LT and Premier trims.
Body: Compact SUV
MPG: 23 city/32 highway
Range: 338 miles
Horsepower: 180 hp
Price: $22,280 to $30,130
The Jeep Compass comes in a number of different trims that cater to customers at different price points. The Compass has strong off-roading abilities and enough cargo space without sacrificing its fuel efficiency. This vehicle mixes good gas mileage with fun.
Previous Domestic Models
Body: Compact Sedan
MPG: 31 city/48 highway
Engine: 137 to 153 hp
The Chevy Cruze is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles that is not a hybrid to ever roll off an assembly line. This sporty little car excels on its reliability scores and has ample passenger space for a compact car.
Body: Compact Sedan
MPG: 30 city/40 highway
Engine: 123 to 350 hp
While Ford no longer sells new versions of the Focus in the United States, it was a top seller in the U.S. for years, so there are many used models on the market. The Focus gives drivers a comfortable ride without hitting them in the wallet when it comes to filling up the tank.
Detroit is starting to shift its focus beyond sedans. Because of this, you should now look at domestic vehicles in relation to their class and type when trying to gauge fuel efficiency. There are still plenty of fuel-efficient domestic vehicles as part of the compact SUV and mid-sized sedan classes.