Ready to swap that gas-guzzling clunker for a planet-hugging ride? Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve lined up the most fuel-efficient cars in Canada. These lean, green, money-saving machines are here to soothe your pain at the pumps. We explore fuel economy across the most common car classes, from sedans to trucks and fan-favourite SUVs. Hold on to your toque as we zip through the 10 most fuel-efficient cars in Canada and how to cruise into big fuel savings.
- What does fuel efficient mean?
- What to know about fuel consumption ratings
- Best of the hybrids
- Is a new fuel-efficient car worth the purchase price?
- A word about hybrids
- How to choose a fuel-efficient car
- Driving tips to save money on gas
What does fuel efficient mean?
Fuel efficiency is all about getting the most out of every drop of fuel. A fuel-efficient car lets you drive further without constantly refilling the tank, which saves money on gas while helping the environment. It's like having a superhero car that goes the extra mile, keeping both your wallet and Mother Earth happy.
What to know about fuel consumption ratings
Fuel consumption ratings are like nutritional labels for vehicles. They’re a reliable way to compare fuel efficiency across makes and models, but things can get confusing if you don’t know what to look for. In Canada, fuel consumption ratings are expressed as Litres per 100 km driven (L/100 km). In the US, consumption ratings are expressed as Miles Per Gallon (mpg).
To keep it simple, here’s the golden rule of fuel consumption ratings: the lower the litres per 100 kilometres (L/100 km) rating, the more fuel-efficient the vehicle. And the higher the miles per gallon (mpg) rating, the further it can stretch each gallon of gas, which also means better fuel efficiency. Keep this in mind, and you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect fuel-efficient car for your next adventure (yay!) or trip to the office (boo!).
⬇️ Low Litres/100 km = Good!
⬆️ High Miles/Gallon (mpg) = Good!
These ratings allow you to accurately compare different fuel-efficient cars to find the money-saving champion that perfectly fits your lifestyle. A vehicle with the best fuel consumption ratings and lowest estimated annual fuel cost is like investing in a long-term savings account that keeps both your gas expenses and environmental impact low for years to come.
As urban dwellers and long-distance commuters search for the most cost-effective and eco-friendly vehicles, we're here to help you navigate the ever-evolving world of fuel efficiency. Below are the best fuel-efficient cars for city and highway drivers.
2023 Mitsubishi Mirage: Best for city driving
MPG: up to 35 in the city
Litres/100km: as low as 6.72 in the city
Starting price: $14,298
The Mitsubishi Mirage stands out as a highly affordable option if you want to buy a new car without breaking the bank. With its spacious cargo hold and impressive fuel economy of up to 35 mpg for city driving and up to 41 mpg for highway driving, this is one of the best non-hybrid fuel-efficient cars on the market. This 5-seater subcompact is available in 4 different trim levels.
2023 Hyundai Elantra: Best for highway driving
MPG: up to 40 on the highway
Litres/100km: as low as 5.88 on the highway
Starting price: $22,956
The Hyundai Elantra is a smart choice for those who value peace of mind thanks to an extensive list of safety features and an industry-leading warranty. This 5-seater vehicle is available in 7 trim levels, with an estimated city mileage of up to 30 mpg and highway mileage of up to 40 mpg.
Are you looking for a fuel-efficient car that combines family adventures with eco-friendly driving? Below are the two best minivans that balance practicality and fuel economy, without compromising comfort or your carbon footprint.
2023 Toyota Sienna: Best hybrid
MPG: up to 36
Litres/100km: as low as 6.53
Starting price: $45,434
The Toyota Sienna is a top choice for those seeking an upscale, eco-friendly minivan. This fuel-efficient car offers outstanding gas mileage, optional all-wheel drive, and a premium cabin.
As a 7-seater vehicle available in 7 trim levels, the Sienna can get up to 36 mpg for city and highway driving.
2023 Chrysler Pacifica: Best gas-only
MPG: up to 28
Litres/100km: as low as 8.40
Starting price: $56,085
The Chrysler Pacifica sets itself apart as the only minivan offered as a plug-in hybrid, delivering space, versatility, safety, and comfort in one package. This 7-seater vehicle, available in 7 trim levels, comes with plenty of safety and technology features to enhance your driving experience. You should get up to 19 mpg in the city and up to 28 mpg on the highway.
Fuel-efficient SUVs are where rugged capability meets responsible driving. Here are the top 2 performers that blend the best of both worlds if you’re looking for sport utility without compromising on eco-friendliness and fuel savings.
2023 Ford Escape: Best compact gas-only
MPG: up to 34
Litres/100km: as low as 6.92
Starting price: $32,849
For drivers who want versatility and customization, the 2023 Ford Escape is an excellent fuel efficient car for SUV lovers. With its roomy and flexible interior, multiple hybrid options, and practical sliding rear seats, it strikes a nice balance of power and efficiency. Offering fuel economy rates of up to 34 mpg, the Ford Escape ensures you'll save on gas.
2023 Toyota Venza: Best mid-sized hybrid
MPG: up to 40
Litres/100km: as low as 5.88
Starting price: $44,434
The Toyota Venza offers a quiet interior that delivers a smooth, comfortable driving experience. You can expect excellent mileage of up to 40 mpg for city driving and up to 37 mpg highway driving with this fuel-efficient car. The Venza is a 5-seater, available in 4 trim levels, and comes with strong safety scores.
As the demand for eco-friendly vehicles continues to grow, fuel-efficient trucks are driving their way to the forefront of the market. These versatile workhorses combine the utility and power you love with the gas savings your wallet will appreciate. Here are the top 2 gas-sipping pickups available today.
2023 Ford Maverick: Best compact hybrid
MPG: up to 30
Litres/100km: as low as 7.84
Starting price: $31,100
The Ford Maverick offers pickup capability at an affordable price perfect for city-dwellers on the hunt for a fuel-efficient truck. This 5-seater vehicle is available in 3 trim levels and, thanks to its compact size, is super easy to park and maneuver in urban settings. The Maverick can deliver up to 23 mpg for city driving and up to 30 mpg for highway driving.
2023 GMC Sierra 1500: Best full-sized gas only
MPG: up to 20
Litres/100km: as low as 11.76
Starting price: $48,797
The GMC Sierra 1500 is a versatile full-size pickup promising a comfortable roomy cabin and an extensive powertrain selection. As a 5-seater truck available in 8 different trim levels, the most popular choice is the Denali Crew Cab Short Bed with 4WD and a 5.3L V8 engine. It offers up to 16 mpg for city driving and up to 20 mpg for highway driving.
Best of the hybrids
Hybrids are excellent fuel-efficient cars if you’re not ready to go all-in on electric vehicles (EVs). This technology is constantly evolving to offer impressive performance with exceptional gas mileage. Here are the two best fuel-efficient hybrids if you want to save some serious cash at the pumps!
2023 Toyota Prius: Best car
MPG: up to 57
Litres/100km: as low as 4.12
Starting price: $39,864
The Toyota Prius is renowned for its fuel efficiency, delivering an impressive combined mileage of 49-57 mpg. This 5-seater vehicle is available in 3 trim levels and offers improved ride and handling compared to its competition.
2023 Kia Niro: Best SUV
MPG: up to 54
Litres/100km: as low as 4.35
Starting price: $32,583
The Kia Niro delivers outstanding fuel economy of up to 46-53 mpg. This 5-seater vehicle offers 7 trim levels to choose from. You’ll also enjoy a roomy interior and ample cargo space. The popular Hybrid EX model can get you up to 53 mpg on city driving and up to 54 mpg on highway driving.
Is a new fuel-efficient car worth the purchase price?
When it comes to buying a new car, there are a ton of numbers to crunch. And if you’re looking for the most fuel-efficient car to save money on gas, all that number crunching can be overwhelming at best – confusing at worst.
To calculate how much money you can save with a new fuel-efficient car, you'll need to compare its fuel consumption with that of your current vehicle. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you with this comparison:
1. Determine the fuel consumption rating of both vehicles
Find the fuel consumption ratings for your current car and the new fuel-efficient car you're considering. This is usually expressed in miles per gallon (mpg) or litres per 100 kilometres (L/100 km).
⬆️ High miles per gallon (mpg) = Good!
⬇️ Low litres per 100k = Good!
2. Calculate your annual fuel consumption
Estimate the number of kilometres you drive in a year. Divide that by the fuel consumption rating of each car to find out how many litres of gas you'll consume annually. If the rating is in miles per gallon, convert it to litres per 100 km like this:
- 1 US Gallon = 3.78541 L
- 1 Mile = 1.60934 km
Formula: Liters per 100 km = (100 x 3.78541) / (MPG x 1.60934)
For example, let's convert a fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon (MPG) to litres per 100 kilometres (L/100 km) using the formula:
Liters per 100 km = (100 x 3.78541) / (MPG x 1.60934)
Substitute the MPG value of 35 into the formula:
Liters per 100 km = (100 x 3.78541) / (35 x 1.60934)
Perform the calculations:
Litres per 100 km = (378.541) / (56.327)
Litres per 100 km ≈ 6.72 L/100 km
Therefore, a vehicle with a fuel efficiency of 35 mpg consumes approximately 6.72 litres of gas per 100 kilometres driven, expressed as 6.72 L/100 km.
Now let's calculate how much gas you'll need
For example, if you drive 24,140 km per year and your current car has a fuel consumption rating of 20 mpg, or 11.76 L/100 km, you'll consume 2,839 litres of fuel annually:
- 24,140 km x (11.76 L/100 km)
- 24,140 km x 0.1176 = 2,839 litres
If the new car has a rating of 30 mpg, or 7.84 L/100 km, you'll consume 1,892 litres of fuel annually:
- 24,140 km x (7.84 L/100 km)
- 24,140 km x 0.0784 = 1,892 litres
3. Calculate your annual fuel cost
Find the current price of gas per litre in your area. Multiply your annual fuel consumption by the gas price to get the annual cost of gas for each vehicle. For example, if the fuel price is $1.55 per litre, your current car's annual fuel cost is $4,400.45:
2,839 litres x $1.55 = $4,400.45
The new car's annual fuel cost is $2,932.60:
1,892 litres x $1.55 = $2,932.60
4. Calculate the annual savings
Subtract the annual fuel cost of the new car from that of your current car. In this example, you would save $1,467.85 per year:
$4,400.45 – $2,932.60 = $1,467.85
5. Compare the savings to the selling price
Now that you know your annual savings, you can estimate how long it would take to recoup the extra cost of the new fuel-efficient car. Divide the price difference between the new and current cars by the annual savings.
For example, if the new car costs $5,000 more than your current car, it would take you about 3.4 years to break even on your investment:
$5,000 / $1,467.85 = 3.406
A word about hybrids
While hybrids are consistently the most fuel-efficient cars (that are not fully electric), they come with additional costs to be aware of. Hybrid vehicles are usually more expensive to buy than their gas-guzzling counterparts. That means you’ll probably spend more on the sticker price, which could take several years to recoup through fuel savings unless you opt for a lower trim level or base model.
The maintenance and repair costs can also be higher thanks to their unique powertrain components. This includes the cost of replacing the hybrid battery, which can be thousands of dollars. Some manufacturers offer robust extended warranty coverage for hybrid batteries, but it's important to factor in these potential costs when considering a hybrid vehicle.
While hybrids are generally more fuel-efficient cars, it's essential to weigh the potential cost savings against the higher initial price and maintenance costs to determine if a hybrid is the right choice for your budget.
How to choose a fuel-efficient car
If you’re reading this, you’re probably on the market for a vehicle that will save you money at the pump, contributes to a cleaner environment, or both. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a fuel-efficient car that meets your needs:
Determine your priorities
Consider the main factors that are important to you, such as size, seating capacity, cargo space, performance, and driving conditions. This will help you narrow down the list of potential vehicles.
Research fuel consumption ratings
Look for the fuel consumption ratings of vehicles that match your priorities. As we discussed earlier, the lower the L/100 km rating the better the fuel efficiency. Also, the higher the mpg rating, the less fuel the vehicle consumes.
Explore different powertrains
There are various powertrain options available, including gasoline, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choose the one that aligns with your preferences and driving habits.
Consider the total cost of ownership
While fuel efficiency is important if you want to save money on gas, there are still all the other ownership costs to consider. Shop around to compare car insurance premiums, budget for maintenance and depreciation, and consider the financing costs if you need a car loan. A fuel-efficient car that also has low ownership costs can save you even more money in the long run.
Take a test drive
Once you've narrowed down your options, take each vehicle for a test drive to assess its performance, comfort, and overall driving experience. This will help you determine if the vehicle meets your expectations in terms of fuel efficiency and practicality.
Check for incentives and rebates
The Government of Canada and some manufacturers offer incentives and rebates for eco-friendly or fuel-efficient cars. Look for any available incentives in your region, as they can significantly lower the purchase price and make your fuel-efficient car choice even more economical.
Driving tips to save money on gas
We’re all tired of getting gut-punched at the pump. No matter what kind of car you have, small adjustments to the way you drive can reduce your fuel consumption and keep more cash in your pocket. Here are the top driving tips to save money on gas (#11 is my favourite!).
Smooth moves win your wallet. Channel your inner Zen and ease into the gas pedal. Smooth acceleration saves fuel and keeps you looking cool.
Embrace your inner tortoise and maintain a consistent speed. Resist the urge to speed or weave in and out of traffic. Trust us, your wallet will thank you.
Shut it down
Idle engines are a non-starter. If you're parked for more than a minute, give your engine a break and turn it off. Save fuel and the planet, one engine-off moment at a time.
The only good inflation
Inflate good vibes and your savings when you keep your tires plump and happy. Properly inflated tires can save you some serious cash at the pump.
Become an errand ninja! Plan your trips like a stealthy shopping warrior so you’re not making multiple trips, or backtracking around town. Combine errands into one trip and plan your route to avoid adding unnecessary kilometres. This will help you save on gas and get back to binge-watching your favourite show.
Lean and green
Shed the excess baggage from your car by ditching the junk in your trunk (literally). A lighter car means better fuel efficiency and more gas money for the fun stuff. Time to say goodbye to the box of donations you’ve been driving around with for 3 months.
Slow and steady
Speed demons beware – take the pedal off the metal! Cruising at reasonable speeds can save fuel and keep you out of the clutches of those pesky speed traps. Not only will driving fast kill your fuel efficiency, but speeding tickets take a chunk out of your wallet and can increase your car insurance premiums when it’s time to renew.
Some like it hot
A/C or not A/C, that is the question. Only it’s not a question, it’s a fact that air conditioning can guzzle gas like nobody's business. Use it wisely or roll down the windows and enjoy the breeze, your budget and your dog will love you forever.
Treat em’ right
Pamper your ride by taking good care of it. Treat your car to regular maintenance like oil changes, spark plug checks, tire rotations and seasonal change-overs. A well-cared-for car sips fuel like a fine wine – instead of guzzling it like it’s Frosh Week at college.
Fuel grade matters, so stick to the recommended fuel grade for your vehicle. You'll save money on gas if you avoid the temptation of that fancy-sounding high-octane fuel. Your car probably doesn't need it, and neither does your bank account.
Pay with plastic
A credit card that offers the highest rewards, points, or cashback on fuel purchases is the easiest way to maximize savings at the pump. With the best credit card for gas, you'll be able to offset a portion of your gas expenses over time. This strategy not only helps you save money but also allows you to take advantage of additional perks and benefits that come with the card, making every fill-up more rewarding and budget-friendly.
Compare Canadian car insurance policies and find the one that best suits your needs.
About The Author: Heidi Unrau
Heidi Unrau is the senior Finance Journalist at Hardbacon. She studied Economics at the University of Winnipeg, where she fell in love with all-things-finance. At 25, she got her first bank job as an entry-level teller. She moved up the ranks to Credit Analyst, Loans Officer, and now a Personal Finance Writer. In her spare time, you'll find her hiding in the car listening to Freakonomics podcasts, or binge-watching financial crime documentaries with a pint of Häagen-Dazs. When she's not chasing after her two little boys, she's in the hot tub or arguing with her husband over which cash back card to use for date night. She’s addicted to coffee, crypto, and obsessively checking her credit score on Borrowell.
Fun Fact: Heidi has lived in five different provinces across Canada, loves her free Tangerine bank account, and will never cut back on Starbucks. Like ever.
More posts by Heidi Unrau