Most Fuel Efficient Used Cars Less than 5 Years Old

most fuel efficient used cars less than 5 years oldIf you’re planning to purchase a used car when it’s time to replace your current model, you’re not alone. According to USA Today, used cars are more in demand than ever before, due to the depressed economy and stagnant new car sales.

But before you go to the lot and make your choice it’s important to know which models ranked as the most fuel-efficient used cars less than five years old.

Before you purchase a used car, you can get an idea of what an auto insurance policy costs by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool!

We’ve chosen the five-year mark as our baseline because engine wear and mechanical issues tend to cloud the fuel efficiency picture beyond five years. Also be advised that we’ve gotten our information from the federal government statistics as provided by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

2011 Chevrolet Voltmost fuel efficient used automobiles less than 5 years old

The Chevrolet Volt is a gasoline/electric hybrid that received the highest EPA gas mileage ratings of any car in history. The vehicle normally operates using an electric engine powered by batteries stored within the car’s body.

When those batteries are drained to a predetermined level, the gasoline engine kicks in to drive a generator that sends electricity to both the batteries and the engine.

EPA statistics show that the Volt gets the equivalent of 94 mpg when operating solely on electric power.

When the gas engine is running it gets approximately 35 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

According to a government document promoting the 2011 Volt, GM invested some $700 million just in upgrading the manufacturing facilities needed to produce the car. Unfortunately for them, sales have been so slow they have been forced to halt production twice this year. Rumors suggest the end for this car may be near.

2010-2011 Toyota Prius

best fuel efficient used cars less than 5 years oldThe Toyota Prius is another electric/gasoline hybrid, first released in Japan in 1997. It was the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, and the first to make a serious run at the U.S. auto market. The car is now sold in more than 70 countries around the world. Toyota claims that more than 2.5 million have been purchased by consumers to date.

EPA numbers for the Prius suggest a combined mileage of 50 miles per gallon. It gets significantly less mileage than the Volt, as do the rest of the hybrids, due to the fact that the drive system works differently. When broken down into city and highway miles, the vehicle gets approximately 51 mpg and 48 mpg respectively.

Perhaps one factor that might encourage you to purchase a used Prius is its battery technology. Toyota uses a combination of both high- and low-voltage batteries. But a 2011 study showed that fuel economy and performance are not an issue, even as both types of batteries age.

When it comes time to replace the batteries, dealers carry them for between $2,000 and $3,000 a piece.

If you’re willing to dig around in salvage yards, you can find low mileage batteries for significantly less money.

2010 Honda Insight

The Honda Insight is an electric hybrid introduced in its first incarnation in 1996. The original Insight was the first Honda vehicle to utilize the company’s revolutionary integrated motor assist technology. This technology allows the car to be operated on a simultaneous combination of electricity and a gasoline-powered engine, rather than depending exclusively on one or the other.what are the most fuel efficient used cars less than 5 years oldThe company discontinued production of the first-generation Insight model in 2006. They reintroduced it in 2009 with some technology and size upgrades. For 2010, the Insight was rated lower in terms of fuel economy than its first-generation counterpart. Most of that has to do with added size and weight.

The EPA ratings give the 2010 Insight a fuel efficiency of 40 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. As an added bonus, Honda has a reputation for building quality vehicles that last a long time.

2010 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupemost fuel efficient used cars under 5 years old

The next car on our list is probably one you’ve never heard of, yet you’ve probably seen one if you live in a large or mid-sized city. Sometimes known simply asĀ the “smart car”, the Smart fortwo Passion coupe is manufactured by Smart GmbH, a German company that’s now part of Daimler AG.

The car is most well-known in the United States for its extremely small size and bright colors. It is a two-seat vehicle, barely large enough to fit a driver, passenger, and a very small amount of cargo. It is so small that some have described it as nothing more than a fancy-looking golf cart.

The secret to the Passion’s fuel mileage is the size of the vehicle.

In other words, it relies entirely on a gasoline or diesel engine rather than a hybrid model. But the small size means a smaller engine can be used to power the vehicle.

most fuel efficient used carsAccording to EPA numbers, the gasoline version of the Passion coupe gets a combined 36 mpg. The diesel engine is rated slightly higher at approximately 43 mpg.

2011 Honda CRZ

In 2010, Honda released a new electric/gasoline hybrid called the CRZ. It’s significantly different from the Insight in two ways. First is the fact that it is classified as a compact sports car, whereas the Insight is a family sedan. But more importantly is what’s underneath.

The CRZ utilizes a hybrid electric/gasoline transmission that makes it the only hybrid that can be built with an optional manual transmission.

Honda specifically developed this technology for sports car drivers who prefer the option of a manual transmission for speed.

According to the EPA’s 2011 fuel economy guide, the CRZ gets 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway for a combined rating of 34 mpg.

2011 Mini Cooper

list of most fuel efficient used cars less than 5 years oldThe Mini Cooper is a U.K. icon originally manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) from 1959 through 2000. At one time the car was so popular in Europe that it was hard to find much of anything else on the road. But lagging sales and stiff competition from other manufacturers brought an end to BMC at the turn of the 21st century.

When BMW purchased Mini in 2000, they opted to keep the brand and Marquis while scrapping the company itself and starting over with their own design. The modern Cooper is a tribute to that classic British car in its styling and class.

In terms of fuel mileage, the 2011 Cooper gets a combined EPA rating of 32 mpg for the M-6 model. That translates into 29 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. The A-S6 model gets slightly lower mileage at a combined 31 mpg.

some fuel efficient used cars less than 5 years old

2011 Ford Escape Hybrid

Though Ford first began manufacturing the Escape as a gasoline crossover in 2000, the hybrid edition did not come into play until 2004.

The vehicle already enjoyed great fuel mileage and good public acceptance prior to the hybrid model, but Ford wanted to get its foot in the door in what was then still a new marketing sector.

Early in 2012, Ford made the decision to discontinue the Escape Hybrid due to the fact that their 2013 gasoline model gets better fuel mileage.

The company’s Eco-Boost technology has surpassed the best mileage they could achieve with a hybrid gasoline/electric model.

Nonetheless, the 2011 Escape Hybrid is nothing to sneeze at. The EPA gives it a fuel mileage rating of 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 32 mpg.

Selecting a Used Car Based on Fuel Mileage

Now that we’ve given you some food for thought regarding the best used cars in terms of fuel mileage, there are a couple of things to consider before you make your purchase. First off, remember that the overall condition of a vehicle’s engine and drive train go a long way in determining what its fuel mileage will be.

most fuel efficient used automobiles less than 5 years oldFor example, a used vehicle with high mileage may get great gas mileage on paper, but poor maintenance by a previous owner could reduce that mileage significantly. Furthermore, a transmission that is not working up to original standards will yield lower mileage as it wears.

Before you purchase a used vehicle, you should always have it inspected by your own mechanic. You might ask the dealer or individual from whom you’re purchasing it for permission to drive the car to your mechanic’s shop. This would be a great way to actually check fuel economy for yourself; at least within the number of miles you cover going back and forth.

Lastly, remember that your fuel economy will probably degrade with every mile you put on the car. In order to keep mileage as high as possible, you could do simple things like maintaining proper tire pressure, rotating the tires with every oil change, having regular tune-ups, and making sure you follow manufacturer recommendations for oil change frequency.

looking for fuel efficient used cars under 5 years oldIf you’re purchasing a hybrid there may also be some specific maintenance practices you have to employ regarding your batteries and the charging system. Make sure you read and understand the instructions provided in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. If you’re purchasing a vehicle that doesn’t have a manual, you can get one from the manufacturer.

If you’re considering purchasing a used car, enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool to find out approximately what you’ll pay for an auto insurance policy first!

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