Alright, this isn’t the definitive list of cars that consume the least amount of fuel, but a list of cars that are shockingly economical given what they are and given the type of engine they are running.
So in this list, you won’t see any top-tier figures, though there are a few cars in the list that can play in the major leagues, instead, you will see a bunch of cars that may subvert your expectations.
Editor's note: These figures are based on the figures taken from our full reviews.
Starting off with the Supra, how can a car with a massive 3.0-liter engine that’s turbocharged and makes over 300 hp get a fuel economy figure of 5 kilometers per liter stuck in hellish traffic, and 11 km/L once that clears up? Then, how on earth did it get 17 km/L on the highway, and how did it manage to beat its in-city figure with its fuel economy on the race track?
It won’t win any economy runs, but among other cars that make similar horsepower figures, the Supra is quite economical for what it is as long as it’s moving. It drinks fuel like a large crossover when sitting still, but it can compete with subcompact sedans when the roads open up for a Sunday drive around town. Shocking for its class.
Everyone and their uncle knows that Suzuki vehicles are some of the most fuel-efficient out there, but let’s put things into context with the XL7. Did you know that it has the same engine as the Suzuki Jimny? The 1.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine makes a little above 100 horses and about 140 Nm of torque, but in the Jimny, it’s not particularly economical. A city crawl in the Jimny gets you 8.6 km/L, 12 km/L on Sunday, and 17.6 km/L on the highway.
Meanwhile, how is it that a seven seater like the XL7, ground clearance and all, was able to top a smaller but boxier car? Was it aerodynamics? Was it gearing? Was it magic? We’re not sure. All we know is that the XL7 is stunningly economical in comparison to its tiny tike of a stablemate, netting 9 km/L in the city, 15 km/L on a Sunday, and 20 km/L on the highway. In nearly every metric, it’s better and it’s impressive just how efficient it is given its size.
In a recent comparo that we did, we were able to test the Honda HR-V alongside its other turbocharged crossover rivals. It was the most powerful among all its competitors and the priciest, but it was also the most fuel-efficient.
Considering that it drives great and that it has such a gem of an engine and transmission is just icing on top of the cake. During our tests, the HR-V was able to achieve a highway fuel economy figure of 21 km/L while babying it. Pushing the throttle for a little bit of fun and speed netted us 19 km/L, however, and in a car like this, you might be inclined to have a lot of fun. In the city, however, it gets better. City figures on a Sunday drive were great, pegged at 14 km/L with a light throttle and a good serving of momentum. Take that away, however, and we were still getting 9 km/L on the clock. The little 1.5-liter engine is lifted from the Honda Civic, and it’s the best of both worlds. Fun when you want it, but efficient when you need it.
Right, now here’s a car that’s definitely not fuel-efficient. Nobody looks at a Ford F-150 and says, “it’s very fuel-efficient!” Really, nobody does. Ask an owner or two. However, it’s not that appalling, especially compared to other big pickups. Why don’t we put the Ford Expedition here and an honorable mention since its platform and engine are the same?
With a huge 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine under the hood, both models make 375 hp and 638 Nm of torque. Massive figures for massive cars, but the fuel economy figures are tiny numbers in comparison at 5 km/L in the city and 10 km/L on the highway. That is, until you put these figures next to a competitor with a V8. Frankly, we were shocked that the Ford out performed the Nissan Patrol Royale in our test. We were able to achieve 9.3 km/L on the highway and a paltry 3.8 km/L in the city.
Then it was also hats off to the Ford F-150, which we had tons of fun with and eventually settled on a 4 km/L reading in the city. On Sunday, however, it achieved 6 km/L, and on the highway it bested the Expedition by squeezing out one more kilometer per liter than it. Which is to say that it got 11 km/L on the highway.
Say what you want about how uneconomical these cars are, but Ford’s EcoBoost is quite efficient when put in the right context.
More shocking about this entry is how its other rivals failed to post better fuel efficiency scores. The Honda City S got 8 km/L and the Toyota Vios GR-S got 8.5 km/L. All of these newer cars come with CVTs and still got beaten out by a relative newcomer in the segment, the VW Santana. All of the nameplates mentioned except for the Santana got an update, and they’re playing a bit of catch-up with the 8.8 km/L city figure we posted back in 2019.
Of course, we have to give the Japanese some credit, as the 22.5 km/L highway figure of the Honda City is still plenty valid, while the Toyota Vios GR-S’ figure of 21.5 km/L is still quite impressive. Guess who ended up smack dab in the middle though? With 21.5 km/L on the highway, it’s the Volkswagen Santana with the same displacement 1.5-liter engine and not a CVT for a gearbox.