Paying too much at the pump? We have something for you. Are these cars too small? Yes, but is it realistic to hope that the gas prices will actually drop? You decide. For the reference, an average car on American roads gets around 20 miles per gallon, which is approximately $2,800 per year in fuel costs. For this list, we only considered autos priced from $7,500 to $10,000 that you actually can find for sale in US.
2000-2006 Honda Insight
48/59 MPG – based on the 5-speed 2005 model.
Estimated annual fuel cost: $1,050.
This odd looking baby car is very rare, but it’s unfair not to include it, as the Insight is on top of the list in terms of fuel economy and yes, currently you can find a few of them for sale in US for under $10,000. Honda Insight is a two-seater hybrid with a 3-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor available with a manual or continuously variable transmission.
2003-2007 Honda Civic Hybrid
40/43 MPG – for the 2005 model with a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission.
Estimated yearly fuel cost: $1,350.
The Civic hybrid is pretty much like a regular Civic with the only difference under the hood and the hybrid battery pack in the back. As of 2012, there are more than a hundred of them available for sale in US for under $10,000.
2002-2007 Toyota Prius
42/41 MPG - for the 2003 model.
Annual fuel cost: $1,350.
The Prius is not only the best-selling hybrid, it’s the most technologically advanced. With 2004 redesign, the Prius moved into a family sedan category, turning into its perennial leader in fuel economy. Well-rated for its reliability, the Prius is probably your best choice for a hybrid. As we checked, there are a couple hundred of them listed for sale throughout US within our price range.
2001-2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Diesel
32/42 MPG – for the 2004 model with a manual transmission. Estimated annual fuel cost: $1,650.
As a typical German sedan, the Jetta offers a classy interior and excellent handling. The 1.9L turbo-diesel packs plenty of torque to pull away from a stop. Although rated not better than average for reliability, the Jetta TDI can last long if taken good care of. You may have to drive out of state to get one of those. The Golf TDI is the same car in a hatchback body.
2000-2007 Honda Civic
31/39 MPG – for the 2004 Civic with a 5-speed manual transmission. Estimated annual fuel cost: $1,650.
Honda Civic is the most realistic choice, as it’s widely available on the used car market. A 5-speed model has better gas mileage and is more reliable. The Civic is dependable and won’t cost you much to maintain.
2000-2006 Volkswagen Beetle TDI
32/41 MPG - for the 5-speed 2005 model.
Annual fuel cost: $1,700.
Although a rare find, the Beetle styled after the famous Bug of the 60′s will catch the eye. Under the Beetle’s hood you will find the same torquey 1.9-liter turbo diesel as in the Jetta. Also not very well rated for reliability, the Beetle handles beautifully and is fun to drive.
2007-2009 Toyota Yaris
29/36 MPG - for the 2007 Yaris with a manual transmission.
Estimated annual fuel cost: $1,750.
The automatic model is not too far behind with 29/35 MPG.
Small from the outside, the Yaris is roomy and practical inside. It’s very reliable and drives pretty smooth too. If you can live with its small size and budget-styled cabin, it’s a nice little car to drive. There are a few hundred of them listed throughout the US within $10,000.
2007-2009 Honda Fit
28/34 MPG - for the 2007 model with a manual transmission. Estimated annual fuel cost: $1,800.
The 2007 Fit with an automatic transmission is rated at 27/35 MPG. Similar to the Yaris, the Fit is very practical; the rear seat cushions flip up giving Honda Fit enough space to fit a 46-inch TV (hence the name). Honda Fit has a sporty firm ride and responsive handling. The Fit is reliable and easy to maintain.
2002-2008 Toyota Corolla
28/37 MPG - for the 2007 5-speed Corolla.
Estimated annual fuel cost: $1,800. The automatic 2007 model is rated at 26/35 MPG. Known for its reliability, the Corolla also offers a comfortable cabin and smooth and quiet ride. The 1.8-liter four banger is not a rocket, but it can last long with regular maintenance. You won’t have much troubles finding used Toyota Corolla for under $10,000.
2004-2006 Scion xA
27/35 MPG – for the 2006 automatic model.
Annual fuel cost: $1,900. Scion xA is a funky practical compact from Toyota with the same economical engine as in the Yaris. That answers the question why Scion xA is also rated high for reliability. You won’t find that many of them on the Autotrader, as starting from 2008 model, it has been replaced by Scion xD.