Small cars are generally known for their superior fuel economy, and hatchbacks have some of the best mpg figures of any vehicle. With so many choices, though, you may need a little help sifting out the good from the great. We review each model on offer and let you know exactly how far they travel on a tank of gas, or a fully charged battery in the case of electric and hybrid cars, as well as every other factor you should consider when making a purchase.
Whether you’re buying new for 2020, or saving a buck by looking at used models from 2019 and 2018, you will find all the information to make a smart choice right here, including comparisons of each car to see how they stack up against the competition.
Common Specifications and Engine Types
Once upon a time, a standard gasoline generator was your only option. It still is an option, in four-cylinder configuration, but we can also pick from hybrid or electric powertrains. So, what does each bring to the table?
Gasoline - Still the most common powertrain on the market, this configuration is losing popularity due to the increasing cost of fossil fuels, concerns about carbon emissions, and lower overall economy.
Hybrid - By pairing a four-pot with a motor and a battery pack, the standard combustion engine does a little extra work for you. This improves mileage by up to 50% on some models, which is bound to bring a smile to your face. These vehicles also usually benefit from a tax rebate in the USA.
Electric - Still a relatively new technology, these powertrains rely purely on their motors to power the wheels. They deliver the best miles per gallon of any powertrain, although they technically do not use liquid fuel. The main downsides are lower overall range due to limited battery capacity and long charge times when “refueling.”
The Most Efficient Hatchback
In terms of pure economy, the Hyundai Ioniq EV is the most fuel-efficient hatchback in the segment. Although it is limited to a total range of 170 miles, it boasts the highest mileage of 145/121/133 MPGe across the city/highway/combined cycles. Charging the 28 kWh battery on a Level 1 outlet takes a mind-numbing 35.5 hours, but upgrading to a Level 2 reduces this to six hours.
Other Hatchbacks With the Best mpg
There are a number of other options on the market if you consider more than just efficiency. That is not to say that these vehicles have poor mileage by any means of the imagination.
Toyota Prius - A well-known name in the high-value market, the Prius is powered by a four-cylinder paired to one or two motors, depending on the drivetrain you opt for. Boasting extremely competitive figures of 58/53/56 mpg in its cheapest (app. $24,000) base trim, it is still an extremely popular choice.
Toyota Corolla - Another offering from the Japanese manufacturer, the Corolla receives a four-cylinder engine and either a manual or an automatic gearbox. In its most efficient guise, it achieves 32/41/35 mpg.
Chevrolet Bolt EV - A fully electric machine from the Americans, the Bolt’s motor develops 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, while delivering 127/108/118 MPGe. It is a little pricier than the competition, though, with a starting MSRP of around $37k.
What to Consider Before Buying
While the market for this type of vehicle has not been as lucrative as several others, namely SUVs or pickups, it still has a lot to offer. Here are just some of the advantages and disadvantages attributed to the segment:
Ideal size for dealing with city traffic and parking lots
Generally very low starting price
Excellent mileage figures
Impressive cargo capacity
Hot hatches can be fun to drive
Not as appealing as larger, more stylish autos
Less spacious passenger accommodations
No off-roading capabilities
High-tech hybrid/EV models are pricey
What hatchback gets the best gas mileage?
The Hyundai Ioniq grabs the crown in terms of sheer mileage, with 145/121/133 MPGe, but its limited range of 170 miles is hard to ignore. By comparison, the Prius covers an intimidating 632 miles on a single tank.
What is good fuel economy in mpg?
Looking at hatchbacks, one of the most efficient styles, anything above 30 mpg combined is pretty decent. The Mazda 3 falls just short of this at 29 combined. The hybrid models aim for an average of 50 miles to a gallon, while EVs should never get less than 100.