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The 13 most efficient gasoline cars on the market

Mitsubishi Mirage

Sure, electric and hybrid cars are all the rage. But these days many cars powered only by plain, old gasoline are quite efficient.

One caveat is that efficient cars tend to be small, which not only means less space, but often less safety as well, because smaller cars generally fare worse in accidents. Also, higher insurance costs may eat into the fuel savings, because insurers charge more to make up for the higher risk of damage and injuries. It’s always a good idea to consider insurance quotes, along with purchase price and ownership costs, before buying a car.

See also: Auto insurance rates rocket: What consumers can do

Here's a rundown of the most efficient cars. Because many of these cars are small, we added details relating to space and safety (ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety relate to 2015 models).

Note: where multiple versions of a car rated at or above 35 miles per gallon (combined city and highway), we chose the most efficient. To break ties, we ranked cars using city and highway ratings. Those that were still tied are listed randomly.

The most fuel-efficient gasoline cars ranked

13. Nissan Versa: 35 combined miles per gallon (31 city, 40 highway)

Nissan Versa

The Versa was one of seven cars at 35 combined miles per gallon, but had the lowest total of city and highway ratings. It also has the lowest base price, $11,990. It performed poorly on an IIHS crash test.

8 (tie). Toyota Corolla: 35 combined miles per gallon (30 city, 42 highway)

The Corolla that makes this list is the LE Eco version, which has the highest base price, $19,135, of the 13 cars. It ties with the Honda Civic for the most passenger space (98 cubic feet). The Corolla got a five-star rating (the best) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

8 (tie). Ford Focus: 35 combined miles per gallon (30 city, 42 highway)

The Focus hatchback has the most cargo space, 23 cubic feet, of any car on this list. It got a five-star rating from the NHTSA.

8 (tie). Chevrolet Cruze: 35 combined miles per gallon (30 city, 42 highway)

The Cruze has the least luggage space, 10 cubic feet, of any car on this list except for the Smart ForTwo. The 2015 version got a five-star rating from the NHTSA (the 2016 model isn’t rated).

8 (tie). Chevrolet Spark: 35 combined miles per gallon (30 city, 42 highway)

The Spark is the only car here that seats four. The rest seat five except for the Smart ForTwo, which seats two.

8 (tie). Hyundai Elantra: 35 combined miles per gallon (32 city, 40 highway)

The Elantra got a five-star rating from the NHTSA.

7. Honda Civic: 35 combined miles per gallon (31 city, 42 highway)

2016 Honda Civic

The Civic tied with the Toyota Corolla for the most passenger space (28 cubic feet). It’s also one of two cars that’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (the four-door version, with optional collision warning and automatic braking systems). The 2015 four-door version got a five-star rating from the NHTSA (the 2016 model isn’t rated).

6. Smart ForTwo: 36 combined miles per gallon (34 city, 39 highway)

As its name implies, the ForTwo only seats two. It also has just 7.8 cubic feet of luggage space, unless you fold down the passenger seat. The upside is a really small turning radius and the ability to fit into tiny parking spaces.

4 (tie). Ford Fiesta: 36 combined miles per gallon (31 city, 43 highway)

The Fiesta has the least passenger space (85 cubic feet) of any of these cars except for the Smart ForTwo, although it does seat five, unlike the slightly larger Chevrolet Spark. 

4 (tie). Honda Fit: 36 combined miles per gallon (33 city, 41 highway) 

The Fit earned a five-star rating from the NHTSA.

3. Scion iA: 37 combined miles per gallon (33 city, 42 highway)

Scion iA

The iA is the only car on this list that is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ without optional features. It comes with a system that detects hazards and, in certain cases, applies the brakes automatically.

2. Mazda 2: 37 combined miles per gallon (33 city, 43 highway)

2016 Mazda 2

If you look at Mazda’s U.S. website, you won’t find the Mazda 2 listed. That’s because Mazda didn’t offer the 2016 model here. Want one? Try Puerto Rico.

1. Mitsubishi Mirage (2017 model): 39 combined miles per gallon (37 city, 43 highway)

Mitsubishi Mirage

In addition to topping fuel-economy ratings, the Mirage has the most luggage space among the sedans on our list (17 cubic feet). It performed poorly in one of the IIHS.

If you’re looking to save on fuel without going electric, hopefully one of these options appeals to you. Just remember to factor safety, space and insurance costs.

See also: The 4 best luxury compact SUVs and crossovers for 2016

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