Fun fuel-sipping cars

Cheap alternatives to hybrids

We've done the math. Sure hybrid and diesel-powered cars get great mileage, but they cost more to buy. So much more that it can take seven or eight years to make back the extra cost in fuel savings.

That's why we think a traditional front-wheel-drive compact or subcompact with an efficient four-cylinder engine is a better gas-saving alternative for many buyers.

Our six favorite fuel-sippers for 2013 get more than 30 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving yet cost from $15,420 to $20,020, including delivery fees. That's incredibly affordable when you consider that the average cost of a new car or truck topped $30,000 last year.

These aren't some dreary little econoboxes, either. The nicely equipped versions we recommend seat at least four and come with automatic transmissions, air conditioning, six or more air bags, trip computers, power windows, locks and outside mirrors. The fuel-economy numbers are EPA estimates, as are the annual fuel costs listed for each car. Why spend extra for technology if one of these rides will fill your needs?