Kelley Blue Book: 8 compact cars that get the best mileage—no plug required

United States

In 2021, there are some very efficient compact cars on the market. In fact, every car on this list has a combined fuel economy rating of at least 30 mpg, and the top two achieve over 50 mpg both in the city and on the highway. Here are the most fuel-efficient compact cars for 2021.

Note: This list does not include cars on dedicated hybrid or EV platforms like the Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq, and Nissan Leaf.

8. 2021 Mazda3 2.0

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 28/36/31 mpg

The base model of the 2021 Mazda3 is the most efficient in its model range. Every Mazda3 equipped with the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is a sedan with front-wheel drive and an automatic transmission. This Mazda MZDAY, +1.62% has an excellent interior and engaging driving dynamics. 

7. 2021 Subaru Impreza Sedan 2.0L CVT

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 28/36/32 mpg

The Impreza sits toward the bottom of our list, but remember, it has standard all-wheel drive on every trim. That makes its combined 32 mpg fuel economy rating pretty impressive. The Subaru FUJHY, +2.99% Impreza sedan is a practical daily driver that can tackle just about any nasty road conditions. 

6. 2021 Nissan Sentra

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 29/39/33 mpg

With only one engine and one transmission, every 2021 Nissan NSANY, +2.71% Sentra gets similar fuel economy. The S and SV models score the ratings you see below, but fuel economy takes a slight hit with the sporty SR model. The Sentra has an upscale interior and a lot of standard safety tech. 

More: The 25 most fuel-efficient SUVs of 2021

5. 2021 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4L manual

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 30/41/34 mpg

Now that automatic transmissions have become highly efficient, there are many cases where buying a car with an automatic transmission nets better fuel economy. But that isn’t the case with the Euro-tuned, spacious Volkswagen VWAGY, +1.57% Jetta, where the stick shift is still the mpg leader. 

4. 2021 Kia Forte FE CVT

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 31/41/35 mpg

The FE trim is the most affordable and most efficient variant of the 2021 Kia Forte. For maximum fuel economy, you’ll have to add the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Kia 000270, +0.41% Forte comes standard with generous safety tech and an excellent infotainment system. 

3. 2021 Honda Civic Sedan 1.5L CVT

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 32/42/36 mpg

The Honda HMC, +2.98% Civic is a compact car that does just about everything well, including efficiency. The sedan model equipped with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and CVT transmission is the most efficient non-hybrid compact car of 2021. It’s also stylish, roomy, and enjoyable to drive.

2. 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 53/52/52 mpg

If you’ve always liked the idea of the Toyota TM, +3.46% Prius but didn’t like the styling, then the Toyota Corolla Hybrid may be the perfect car for you. Get over 50 mpg in this sleek, modern compact sedan while enjoying the latest tech features all at an affordable price. 

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1. 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 53/56/54 mpg

The most fuel-efficient compact car without a plug for 2021 is the all-new Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue. This compact achieves stunning fuel economy numbers with a combined rating of 54 mpg. On top of that, Hyundai’s HYMTF, +2.52% new Elantra has a unique, head-turning aesthetic and is packed with modern tech. 

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