Aug. 1, 2013 at 10:35 AM ET
Americans looking for the most fuel-efficient ride, the winner has been declared: The Toyota Prius costs just 7.2 cents per mile to operate, according to a recent survey by GasBuddy.com.
That's less than a quarter what it costs to fuel the big Chevrolet Suburban, which costs 21.2 cents a mile. Put in perspective, if a Suburban driver and a Prius driver clocked the same 1,500 miles, the Prius driver would have spent $310 less.
It’s hard to find a manufacturer that hasn’t pushed for improved fuel economy, but gaps remain between brands, GasBuddy.com found. GMC products are the most costly to operate in terms of fuel per mile. In fact, General Motors, its parent company, produces six of the 10 most expensive vehicles to drive.
The next priciest brands are the Cadillac, at 19.0 cents a mile, Mercedes-Benz at 18.6 cents a mile, Jeep at 18.5 cents a mile, and Jaguar at 18.4 cents a mile.Honda was the cheapest brand, at just less than 12.8 cents per mile. On Honda’s fuel-efficient heels, the Kia registered 12.9 cents per mile, followed by Hyundai, Volkswagen, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Toyota.
But don’t rule out entire brands, says GasBuddy’s senior analyst Patrick DeHaan. Rather, check out individual cars.
“Honda puts out quite a few high-mileage models,” DeHann told TheDetroitBureau.com. “GMC is weighted to heavy-duty models, which aren’t going to get as good fuel economy.”
The auto industry has made strides in mileage, according to a separate study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Fuel economy has overall climbed to record levels in recent months, the institute found, and consistently improves each month.
Even big pickups like the GMC Sierra are getting better mileage – although GasBuddy analyst DeHaan stressed that the biggest gains are on the passenger car side of the market. The GasBuddy study did not conduct an apples-to-apples comparison, however, such as pitting a midsize Toyota Camry against a Ford Fusion or Nissan Altima, or a Chevrolet Silverado pickup against a Toyota Tundra or Ford F-150.
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