The 8 Most Cost-Efficient Cars on the Road Today

Point of Interest

Cost-efficient cars help consumers save money at the dealership, the gas station and during repairs.

In 2020, there are plenty of high-quality, attractive and efficient economy cars and SUVs that fit the mold without breaking the bank. There are many authorities on the topic, with Car and Driver, a magazine dedicated to new car reviews and information since 1955, leading the way. 

According to the company and other publications, cost-efficient cars share many of the same traits. Cost-efficient cars typically have an affordable sticker price, good to great gas mileage, a reliable history, easy to find replacement parts (meaning inexpensive repairs), and warranties that help to save further on service and repair costs.

The 8 best cost-efficient cars of 2020

Ford Escape Hybrid – Best for city MPG

Nissan Versa – Best for technology

Ford Fiesta (2019) – Best for power

Toyota Yaris – Best subcompact vehicle

Hyundai Accent – Best warranties

Honda Civic – Best for style

Chevrolet Spark – Best for price

Kia Rio – Best for features

CarMSRPMPG CityMPG HwyStandout Feature
Ford Escape Hybrid$28,2554437Features auto start-stop technology
Nissan Versa$14,7303240Consumer Guide 2020 best buy
Ford Fiesta (2019)$14,2602735Final year of production
Toyota Yaris$15,6503240Low-speed pre-collision system standard
Hyundai Accent$15,295334110 year – 100,000 mile warranty
Honda Civic$19,8503038174 horsepower with fuel efficiency
Chevrolet Spark$13,2203038“Remarkably good value” from Car and Driver
Kia Rio$15,8503341Forward-Collision-Avoidance Assist available

The 8 best cost-efficient cars of 2020

Ford Escape Hybrid – Best for city MPG

Just because you’re looking for efficiency does not mean you can’t have the storage capacity and utility of an SUV. One of the most affordable SUVs on the market is the Ford Escape starting at just above $28,000. With seating for five, the car’s Hybrid engine produces 200 horsepower, while still getting 44 MPG in the city. Typically, most cars get better gas mileage on the highway, but the Ford Escape Hybrid sees the most savings on city streets. The car also is available with Auto Start-Stop technology, which further helps to save on gas consumption. Additionally, when you select a popular car from a major producer like Ford, replacement parts and maintenance costs come down, adding to the overall affordability.

Nissan Versa – Best for technology

The Nissan Versa clocks in impressively under $15,000, making the car a great fit for those looking to avoid sticker shock on a new vehicle. Additionally, the Versa comes with quite a few bells and whistles, including Safety Shield 360, which adds monitoring 360 degrees around your car to help keep you safe and out of accidents. Gas mileage for this economy car comes in at 32 city and 40 highway, which certainly helps to save on fuel costs. The Nissan Versa also made Consumer Guide’s 2020 list of best buys. According to the company, this means, “A vehicle does not become a Best Buy based solely on objective ratings. It also has to distinguish itself as being a good dollar value compared to others in the class.” 

Ford Fiesta (2019) – Best for power

2019 is the last year that Ford makes the Fiesta. While this isn’t ideal if you’re looking for a 2020 model, it does mean you may be able to score a deal at a dealership looking to make way for other Ford models. At a starting price tag under $15,000, you may be able to get that even lower, especially as the buying season wears on. Fuel mileage is 27/35, with horsepower outputs between 120 and 197 depending on the exact model you choose. Just because you’re in a smaller car does not mean you don’t deserve some get-up-and-go.

Toyota Yaris – Best subcompact vehicle

Available in seven different colors, the Toyota Yaris comes in five different sedan-style or hatchback models to choose from. Starting pricing ranges from $15,650 to $18,750, depending on the style and engine package you choose. Estimated MPG is 32 city and 40 highway making this economy car fuel-efficient. The car also comes with an active safety system and low-speed pre-collision systems. Accident avoidance can help you save on the unexpected, and can also be attractive to insurance companies when determining rates. All Yaris purchases come with ToyotaCare, which covers regularly scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles.

Hyundai Accent – Best warranties

A car company making waves by producing cost-efficient cars that look stylish is Hyundai. One of the more popular options available from this international carmaker is the Accent. 41 MPG highway makes the Hyundai Accent an attractive option for those looking to save at the pump. All 2020s come with complimentary 3-year, 36,000 maintenance on top of the 10-year and 100,000-mile warranty, further adding to cost savings. Knowing you’re covered if anything breaks in the first decade you have the car and not having to cover maintenance costs for three years spells big savings. 

Honda Civic – Best for highway MPG

One of the most popular cars on the market today is the Honda Civic. With an impressive 5/5 rating from Car and Driver, the Civic offers several models and color choices for buyers to choose from. If you need a little pep in the step of your cost-efficient car, the Honda Civic pushes 174 horsepower through the turbocharged engine on top of a fully independent suspension. Gas mileage is a few miles lower than some of the other options on the list, but still in the realm of fuel efficiency.

Chevrolet Spark – Best for price

Starting at an impressively affordable $13,220, you’ve got the option to save big or add on some extra bells and whistles while still retaining the title of cost-efficient. Some of the standard features you get include 10 standard airbags, 27.2 cubic feet of storage space, 10 color options to choose from, and 30 city and 38 highway MPG. People looking to save from day one will love what the Chevrolet Spark and the starting price tag have to offer. Cost efficiency is not just about the sticker price, but saving several thousand dollars on the price certainly can’t be ignored.

Kia Rio – Best for features

With an MSRP at just under $16,000, the Kia Rio delivers a lot of features packed into a subcompact package. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 7-inch touch screen color display and a rear camera all come standard on the base model of the Kia Rio in 2020. Those looking for some added protection can add Forward-Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) for an added charge. Safety and accident avoidance can keep you safe and out of what may be expensive accidents. And still, with the starting price where it is, adding on a few upgrades could be feasible with this cost-effective economy car.

What is a cost-efficient car?

When determining the most cost-efficient cars, you need to weigh a considerable amount of options. Some people think that cost-efficient just means the car with the lowest sticker price, but that’s not what it means. Cost-effective refers to getting the most bang for your buck, which with cars includes the sticker price, fuel efficiency, repair costs, insurance rates, and more. Ultimately, it’s the car that is going to deliver what you’re looking for with the best value based on what you spend.

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