7 cheap alternatives to hybrids

2014 Chevrolet Spark 1LT

Price: $16,645
Mileage: 30 mpg city/39 hwy/34 combined
Estimated Annual Fuel Cost: $1,450

The Spark is the least expensive car you'll find here, yet its combined fuel economy is two mpg higher for 2014 because Chevrolet replaced the old four-speed automatic with a continuously variable transmission. That change will save you an estimated $200 in annual fuel costs. The downside is that Spark comes with the smallest, least powerful engine of our picks — 1.2 liters, 84 horsepower — and the new transmission makes it even less fun to drive. But this little Chevy remains a fierce slayer of urban congestion, and the cabin is more spacious than you might expect with some nice tech touches, including a seven-inch color touch screen and six-speaker audio system.