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You Don't Need an Electric or a Hybrid Car to Save on Gas

These little-known cars get between 37 and 47 miles to the gallon, and they don't cost a lot.

According to this Bureau of Labor Statistics chart, gas prices were up 56 percent between May 2020 and May 2021:

Year-over-year inflation
Year-over-year inflation Source: Marcia Wendorf

Last month's ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, which helps to supply gasoline across the U.S., caused gas prices to jump 20 percent before falling back somewhat. According to data from the American Automobile Association (AAA), a year ago, during the height of the COVID pandemic, the average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. was around $2, but it had jumped to above $3 per gallon as of June 9, 2021.

The price of gas is determined by the price of crude oil from which gasoline is derived. In November 2020, due to lack of demand during COVID, Brent crude oil, which is the blend most used in Europe, sold for $37 a barrel, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Today it is selling for almost $74.

In response to last year's low prices, oil-producing countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), cut their oil production. With many countries opening up after their COVID shutdowns and increasing demand, production rates haven't kept up, and the U.S. has had to draw on its gasoline storage inventories, which has driven up prices.

The best-kept secret

You don't have to buy an expensive all-electric vehicle or a hybrid to enjoy fantastic mileage. For years, car gurus have known about a small group of gas-powered cars that deliver fantastic mileage, and now you're going to know about them too.

The information provided comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has been rating the fuel mileage of cars since 1984. Below are their top-rated cars based on the cars' combined city and highway fuel economy.

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1. 1986 Chevrolet Sprint ER

1986 Chevrolet Sprint ER
1986 Chevrolet Sprint ER. Source: Mr.choppers/Wikimedia Commons

The car even came with a light showing the ideal time to shift.

  • Combined MPG: 48
  • City MPG: 44
  • Highway MPG: 53
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

2. 1994 Geo Metro XFI

1994 Geo Metro XFI
1994 Geo Metro XFI. Source: veggiepowered/YouTube

In their quest for fuel economy, they left out the passenger-side mirror.

  • Combined MPG: 47
  • City MPG: 43
  • Highway MPG: 52
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

3. 1986 Honda Civic Coupe HF

1986 Honda Civic Coupe HF
1986 Honda Civic Coupe HF. Source: TTTNIS/Wikimedia Commons

The HF stands for High Fuel economy, which is what Honda wanted from this car.

  • Combined MPG: 46
  • City MPG: 42
  • Highway MPG: 51
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1.5
  • Transmission: Manual

4. 1995 Honda Civic HB VX

1995 Honda Civic HB VX
1995 Honda Civic HB VX. Source: OSX/Wikimedia Commons

This VX was the new HF and the fifth-generation Honda Civic.

  • Combined MPG: 43
  • City MPG: 39
  • Highway MPG: 50
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1.5
  • Transmission: Manual

5. 1985 Pontiac Firefly

1985 Pontiac Firefly
1985 Pontiac Firefly. Source: Amey Kamat/YouTube

If you're not familiar with the Pontiac Firefly it's because the car was only sold in Canada and the Middle East between 1985 to 2001.

  • Combined MPG: 42
  • City MPG: 39
  • Highway MPG: 47
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

6. 1985 Suzuki SA310

1985 Suzuki SA310
1985 Suzuki SA310. Source: Rainmaker47/Wikimedia Commons

Before Suzuki came out with the Cultus, Forsa, and Swift, there was the SA310 which was only sold during 1985.

  • Combined MPG: 42
  • City MPG: 39
  • Highway MPG: 47
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

7. 1989 Chevrolet Sprint

1989 Chevrolet Sprint
1989 Chevrolet Sprint. Source: JoshJLMG/YouTube

The second-generation Chevrolet Sprint.

  • Combined MPG: 41
  • City MPG: 38
  • Highway MPG: 45
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

8. 1989 Suzuki Swift 

1989Suzuki Swift
1989 Suzuki Swift. Source: OSX/Wikimedia Commons

The second generation of Suzuki Swift was sold from 1989 to 1994.

  • Combined MPG: 41
  • City MPG: 38
  • Highway MPG: 45
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

9. 1996 Geo Metro 

1996 Geo Metro
1996 Geo Metro. Source: Bull-Doser/Wikimedia Commons

This third-generation Geo Metro came in sedan and hatchback models, and was only sold in the U.S.

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  • Combined MPG: 40
  • City MPG: 37
  • Highway MPG: 44
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

10. 1987 Suzuki Forsa

1987 Suzuki Forsa
1987 Suzuki Forsa. Source: order242/Wikimedia Commons

This first generation Suzuki Forsa was sold in the U.S., Ecuador, Chile, and Canada from 1985 to 1988.

  • Combined MPG: 39
  • City MPG: 36
  • Highway MPG: 43
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

11. 1992 Honda Civic

1992 Honda Civic
1992 Honda Civic. Source: mncarguy/YouTube

This fifth-generation Honda Civic was larger than previous models and had a more aerodynamic body.

  • Combined MPG: 38
  • City MPG: 35
  • Highway MPG: 43
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1.5
  • Transmission: Manual

12. 1999 Chevrolet Metro 

1999 Chevrolet Metro
1999 Chevrolet Metro. Source: Sandor Lau/YouTube

This car was only sold in the U.S. from 1998 to 2001.

  • Combined MPG: 37
  • City MPG: 34
  • Highway MPG: 42
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Engine Size in Liters: 1
  • Transmission: Manual

Among people who like to save on gas, these cars have almost mythical status, and if gas prices continue to rise, you too may find yourself searching for them on the used car ads.

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