cheapest fuel efficient non hybrid cars 2022
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Cheapest Fuel-Efficient Cars in Canada (Non-Hybrid): 9 Top Picks

Fortunately, many newer gas-powered cars today are more fuel-efficient than ever, and they're not necessarily expensive. So skip the pricier hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars and take a look at one of these models from our list in this guide:

  • Mitsubishi Mirage ES CVT
  • Hyundai Elantra Essential ISG CVT
  • Nissan Versa S CVT
  • Kia Rio LX+ CVT
  • Toyota Corolla CVT hatchback
  • Volkswagen Jetta Trendline 8AT
  • Honda Civic LX CVT
  • Chevrolet Spark LS CVT
  • Kia Forte LX CVT

If you’ve been following auto industry trends for the last few years, you’ll know that crossovers and SUVs are some of Canada’s best-selling vehicles, and that electrified powertrains are leading the way in helping many Canadians reduce their day-to-day transportation costs.

However, even at the entry-level end of the market, crossovers tend to be more expensive than small cars. Meanwhile, battery electric and hybrid powertrains can add thousands of dollars to a vehicle’s price, and it can take years to make that money back through their lower operating costs.

So if you want a new vehicle that combines an affordable MSRP with low day-to-day costs, your best bet is a compact car with a traditional gas engine under its hood.

To help you find your next cost-conscious new vehicle, we’ve compiled a list of the nine most fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars available in Canada for the 2022 model year. If you’re shopping for an affordable hybrid car, here are the ten cheapest PHEV options.

Mitsubishi Mirage ES CVT

Photo: Mitsubishi 

  • Base price: $15,298 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 6.2 L/100 km

Our most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car is the subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage, which is also one of Canada’s least-expensive new cars.

While the Mirage’s pricing starts at $14,098, that includes a manual transmission. The optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is the more fuel-efficient choice at $15,298.

The Mirage is powered by the smallest engine in this group, a 1.2L three-cylinder that makes 78 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque. This is the very definition of basic transportation in today’s marketplace: the Mirage’s engine transmits loads of noise and vibration into the cabin, and the chassis’ handling is nothing like sporty. However, the Mirage is a strong value and boasts generous interior space and a comfortable ride for its price point.

In ES trim, the Mirage comes with 14-inch steel wheels with covers, automatic A/C, auto on/off headlights, and rain-sensing wipers.

Hyundai Elantra Essential ISG CVT

Photo: Hyundai 

  • Base price: $21,854 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 6.4 L/100 km

Next up on our list is the Hyundai Elantra, the brand’s compact sedan model and its least-expensive car offering.

Hyundai powers the Elantra with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine making 147 hp and 132 lb-ft or torque, which performs most efficiently with an optional automatic CVT, but a six-speed manual is the base transmission. The Elantra achieves its thrifty fuel consumption estimate thanks to an idle-stop-and-go (ISG) system that shuts the engine down when the car is stopped.

The Elantra’s Essential trim comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, auto on/off headlights with automatic high beams, heated front seats, 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment, and manual air conditioning.

Today’s Elantra is the car’s seventh generation, which Hyundai rolled out as a 2021 model. The Elantra has been a mainstay of Hyundai’s small-car lineup in Canada since the early 1990s.

Nissan Versa S CVT

Photo: Nissan 

  • Base price: $18,398 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 6.7 L/100 km

In third place on our list is another subcompact, the Nissan Versa sedan, which is the brand’s most affordable vehicle overall.

Power is from a 1.6L four-cylinder engine (122 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque). As is the case with most of the cars on this list, the Versa starts out with a manual transmission, but an optional automatic CVT provides thriftier driving.

The Versa S’s standard features include 15-inch steel wheels with covers, automatic on/off headlights with high beam assist, fog lights, and air conditioning. Nissan offers the Versa in more comprehensively equipped SV and SR trims that are rated for the same fuel consumption estimates as the entry-level model, but our preference for low prices means the S package gets our consideration.

The current third-generation Nissan Versa arrived for the 2021 model year. Nissan introduced the original Versa to Canada in 2007, when it was offered solely as a hatchback. A sedan joined the lineup in 2008, and a second-gen Versa arrived in 2014 with a hatchback model renamed the Versa Note. 

Kia Rio LX+ CVT

Photo: Kia 

  • Base price: $18,595 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 6.7 L/100 km

Fourth place goes to the Kia Rio, the company’s least-expensive vehicle and third of four subcompact models on our list of the most efficient cars with gasoline-only powertrains. Kia used to offer the Rio in sedan and hatchback body styles, but discontinued the sedan after 2020. Previously, Kia marketed the hatch as the Rio5.

Kia propels the Rio with a 1.6L four-cylinder engine with 120 hp/113 lb-ft, which achieves its 6.7 L/100 km combined fuel consumption rating with an automatic CVT, but a six-speed manual is available for a lower MSRP. The Rio’s engine is notable for its use of relatively old-fashioned port fuel injection (most of today’s cars and trucks use direct injection for better efficiency and power) with two injectors per cylinder for optimized fuel delivery. Prior to 2020, the Rio used a direct-injected engine rated for 7.5 L/100 km in combined driving.

The Rio’s base LX+ trim rides on 15-inch steel wheels and comes equipped with heated front seats, A/C, and a six-speaker stereo.

Toyota Corolla CVT hatchback

Photo: Toyota 

  • Base price: $22,450 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 6.8 L/100 km

The Toyota Corolla has the enviable reputation of being one of Canada’s most fuel-efficient cars, which it lives up to by making the fifth spot on our list.

Toyota offers the Corolla with two engines, and it’s the more powerful of the two – a 2.0L four-cylinder with 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque – that is more efficient when connected to the car’s optional automatic CVT. We’re looking specifically at the Corolla hatchback for its starting price, which is lower than a sedan optioned with the 2.0L engine and CVT, but that car also gets a 6.8 L/100 km combined fuel consumption rating. The Corolla sedan’s base engine is a 1.8L, which is less powerful (with 139 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque) and less efficient than the 2.0L.

For its $22,450 MSRP, the Corolla hatchback comes fitted with passive keyless entry, a six-speaker stereo, automatic A/C, LED headlights with automatic high beams, and a front wiper de-icer. Also included are forward collision avoidance assist, radar cruise control, and lane departure prevention.

In our opinion, the Corolla hatchback is the best-looking version of Toyota’s popular compact, but the larger sedan boasts more generous interior space.

If a 300-hp sporty hatchback with AWD (and definitely not fuel efficient!) is more your thing, here's a look at our 2023 Toyota GR Corolla first drive review

Volkswagen Jetta Trendline 8AT

Photo: VW 

  • Base price: $23,995 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 6.8 L/100 km

The fuel-efficient car that delivers the most driver satisfaction is the Volkswagen Jetta, whose engaging handling and solid on-road feel belie a price not even $250 more than that of the Corolla SE.

New to the Jetta for 2022 is a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine (it replaces last year’s 1.4L turbo mill) with 158 hp and, significantly, the highest torque rating on our list, at 184 lb-ft. That torque makes the Jetta feel quicker than it is in city driving, while its modest displacement contributes to good efficiency when driven conservatively.

Like every other car that made our list, the Jetta uses the least fuel with an optional automatic transmission. The difference is that VW’s automatic is an eight-speed gearbox, while every other car that appears here uses a CVT.

The entry-level Jetta Trendline’s exterior features 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, and heated windshield washer nozzles. Inside, it’s equipped with A/C, heated front seats and steering wheel, digital gauges, and forward collision mitigation.

Honda Civic LX CVT

Photo: Honda 

  • Base price: $25,370 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 6.9 L/100 km

In sixth place is another household name in Canada’s car industry, the Honda Civic. Part of the Civic’s appeal in this country stems from the fact that it’s built in Alliston, Ontario, where Honda has assembled Civics since 1988. (Toyota also used to build the Corolla in Ontario, but moved that assembly line to Mexico in 2019.)

Honda introduced an all-new, 11th-generation Civic for the 2022 model year, wrapping a redesigned body around engines carried over from the previous-gen car, including an entry-level 2.0L four-cylinder and a turbocharged 1.5L motor reserved for upper trim levels. Both engines are rated for the same combined fuel consumption of 6.9 L/100 km, but our focus on affordability means we’re looking at the LX trim level and its 2.0L engine.

In the Civic sedan, the 2.0L comes standard with a CVT, which puts the car’s 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels.

The Honda Civic LX’s features include 16-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, a digital gauge display, automatic climate control, passive keyless entry, heated front seats, and an eight-speaker stereo. The $25,370 MSRP also includes a full suite of driver safety assists.

Chevrolet Spark LS CVT

Photo: Chevrolet 

  • Base price: $14,698 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 7.0 L/100 km

The 2022 Chevrolet Spark claims the title of Canada’s least-expensive new vehicle, with a starting price of $10,398 for the LS trim level with its standard five-speed manual transmission. However, the Spark that made seventh place on our list includes the more-efficient optional automatic CVT, which comes bundled with air conditioning, and together those features add a surprising $4,300 to the car’s out-the-door price.

Also notably, the Spark is the smallest vehicle on our list of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars, with an overall length nearly 20 cm shorter than that of the Mitsubishi Mirage. However, it promises sprightlier performance than the Mirage does, with a 1.4L engine whose 98 hp and 94 lb-ft of torque are bonuses of 20 hp and 20 lb-ft compared to the Mitsu’s three-cylinder.

Notably, the 2022 model year is the Spark’s last, with production set to wind down in August of 2022. That will leave the Trax subcompact crossover as Chevrolet’s cheapest offering, at $22,098, and will make the Mirage Canada’s most affordable new car.

Kia Forte LX CVT

Photo: Kia 

  • Base price: $19,895 (2022 model)
  • Combined fuel consumption estimate (Natural Resources Canada): 7.0 L/100 km

Rounding out our list of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars is the Kia Forte, the Korean brand’s offering in the compact sedan segment. It qualifies for this round-up in its entry-level LX trim with the addition of an optional automatic CVT.

Kia’s close ties to Hyundai mean the Forte shares a lot of its underpinnings with the Hyundai Elantra, including a 2.0L engine and CVT that put 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. The Forte’s other powertrain offerings include a six-speed manual transmission that is standard in LX trim, and a 1.6L turbo motor that comes with a dual-clutch automatic transmission in GT Limited trim. You can also get a Forte hatchback, but its higher starting price knocked it out of the running for this article.

Forte’s LX package comes with 15-inch steel wheels, heated front seats, A/C, a six-speaker stereo, and auto on/off headlights.

The current Forte is the car’s third generation, introduced for the 2019 model year. However, Kia made its Canadian compact car debut in the early 2000s with the Sephia, which was redesigned and renamed as the Spectra in the mid-2000s.

Ready to buy an affordable, fuel-efficient car?

View all these cars in our current inventory here. Every vehicle from Canada Drives has completed a 150 Point Inspection, comes with a no-charge 30 Day / 1,500 km warranty, and is covered by our 7-Day money back return policy.

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