Finding the most fuel-efficient cars in Australia

  • Fuel consumption is measured in litres per 100 kilometers (L/100km), where lower values indicate higher efficiency.

  • Aluminium wheels, cruise control, and navigation systems can enhance fuel efficiency in cars.

  • Smaller vehicles with simpler drivetrains and hybrid or electric engines are more fuel-efficient.

  • Adopting fuel-saving habits like minimizing air conditioning use and keeping vehicles well-maintained can significantly improve fuel economy.

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    How can you find the most fuel-efficient cars in Australia?

    Your car is one of your biggest monthly expenses, so it helps to keep costs low where you can. A great way to save money without compromising on quality is to look for fuel-efficient cars. Optimising your fuel consumption can become a major game-changer. If you’re looking to buy a car with the best fuel economy possible, this article is for you.

    Best fuel-efficient cars comparison table

    With so many different cars available on the market right now, it’s hard to know where to even start searching for the most fuel-efficient cars. That’s why MNY has done the work for you by compiling a comprehensive database of virtually all major car manufacturers available in Australia. We’ve assessed both petrol- and electric-powered vehicles and boiled down the data into one bottom-line number for projected annual fuel cost of each vehicle. You can use this tool to find the best options based on preferred price range, year, manufacturer, fuel type, and body style, and then compare your top choices side-to-side. To reflect your specific costs and driving habits, our table also features an adjustable setting for fuel prices and annual mileage, giving you a personalized efficiency comparison

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    Disclaimer
    The data provided in the table is for informational purposes only. The provided price is an approximation based on the average market price and may vary. The information regarding fuel consumption and Annual Fuel Cost presented in this table is intended solely for vehicle comparison purposes. Your actual on-road fuel consumption and Annual Fuel Cost will be influenced by the specific conditions under which you use the vehicle.

    Understanding fuel consumption

    Before you begin, it may help to get a crash course on the basics of fuel efficiency and fuel usage.

    How do you measure fuel consumption?

    A car’s rate of consuming fuel is measured in litres per one hundred kilometres, or L/100km. If a car burns 10 litres of petrol to travel 100 kilometres, the fuel consumption rate is 10 L/100km. The less fuel is needed to go 100 kilometres, the better the fuel efficiency.

    What counts as good fuel consumption?

    Fuel consumption for a small or medium passenger vehicle is usually around 6-8 L/100km. A larger vehicle, like an SUV, typically uses 9-11 L/100km. Apart from vehicle size, other factors affecting fuel consumption include vehicle type, acceleration, air conditioning usage, tyre pressure, fuel type, and driving environment. Fuel efficiency on a long open highway is going to be better than in a busy city with many red lights.

    Tips for buying economic cars

    Whether you are buying a new or used car, fuel is the most common ongoing vehicle expense that you will face, so you can do yourself a big favour by opting for something that needs less petrol to go the same distance. Here are some strategies for the buying process:

    • Go for the smaller vehicles with simple drivetrains

      Smaller cars weigh less, so they need to burn less petrol to get going, compared to an SUV or a minivan. Front-wheel drive is the most fuel-efficient drivetrain option.

    • Choose a car with extra gears and less horsepower

      Consider a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with extra gear ratios for maximum efficiency. Opt for a smaller engine with less horsepower to save even more fuel.

    • Avoid unnecessary extra features that burn energy

      Power seats with built-in heating are comfortable, but they also require lots of electricity. Remote starters also expend fuel since the car is running while unoccupied.

    Features in fuel-efficient cars

    The cars with the best fuel economy are ones that include some or all of these features:

    • Aluminium wheels and removable roof racks

      With fuel efficiency, weight is the name of the game. Removing excess freight and using lighter wheels makes it easier for the engine to get going with less fuel.

    • Cruise control and tachometer add-ons

      Cruise control helps you avoid repeated accelerations and slowdowns, while a tachometer will tell you when to shift to a manual transmission for optimal efficiency.

    • Navigation systems and trip computers

      A built-in GPS (or smartphone docking system) finds the optimal route, which is especially useful for detours. Trip computers keep you informed about your fuel usage.

    What changes can I make to save on fuel consumption?

    Selecting a fuel-efficient car is a great start, but there are certain smart habits you can adapt to really maximise how much fuel you’re saving.

    • Minimise your AC use: When travelling at slower speeds, rolling your windows down can help you cool off without blasting the AC. Also, tinted glass is a good way to keep the hot sun out.

    • Optimise your commute: If possible, adjust your journey to work to avoid rush-hour congestion. The constant start-and-stop of rush hour traffic is highly inefficient.

    • Save your car for longer journeys: If you’re travelling a short distance, consider walking or biking. Brief car trips don’t allow the engine to warm up properly, making it run more poorly.

    • Do your research on petrol stations:  If you always fill up on petrol at the same place, consider shopping around for a different servo with better prices, or find a chain that offers fuel cards with discount prices.

    • Keep your vehicle well-maintained: Routine checks help find inefficiencies that are burning excess fuel, like engine leaks. If you have a novated lease, maintenance might be included for free.

    Which fuel types are used by most fuel-efficient cars?

    Many of the best fuel-efficient cars in Australia use ordinary petrol, but there are several other options for economic cars.

    Diesel engines

    Diesel vehicles have an advantage over petrol vehicles because they use compression ignition, making them more economical. A diesel engine has extra torque and can shift gears more quickly, which translates to better fuel economy. However, all of these features make diesel vehicles more expensive. This might negate any fuel cost savings.

    Hybrid and electric engines

    Hybrid engines consist of a petrol engine combined with one or more electric motors. As the internal combustion unit fires, it generates electricity for the motor. Meanwhile, electric engines power the motor with a large battery pack. This means you can only drive an electric car as long as the battery has some charge, while a hybrid engine charges the electric motor while the petrol engine operates.

    Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) engines

    LPG vehicles have many strengths, but they’re not especially known for their fuel economy. A litre of LPG simply does not go nearly as far as a litre of petrol, but LPG is substantially cheaper than ordinary petrol, so you may be able to find the right balance. However, note that LPG engines have mostly fallen out of popularity in Australia and could be difficult to find.

    FAQ regarding the most fuel-efficient cars in Australia

    What are the best all-electric cars in Australia right now?
    The electric car market in Australia is growing rapidly, and many major manufacturers are releasing electric vehicles. These include the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona Electric and Ioniq, Kia Niro EV, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Audi e-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace, and the Tesla models.
    What’s the most fuel-efficient car in Australia?
    It’s difficult to award this title to any single vehicle, since every car performs differently based on the weight being carried and the road environment. However, Toyota and Honda are two manufacturers who have recently expanded their electric and hybrid models.
    Which car is the most environmentally friendly?
    If you’re looking for a car that has zero carbon emissions, your best bet is an electric car charged with some form of renewable energy such as wind or solar. Unfortunately, any petrol car you buy will have at least some emissions.

    Getting the best fuel-efficient cars: the bottom line

    When picking out your next vehicle, opting for a fuel-efficient car will set you up for success down the road. Not only are you saving yourself money, you can feel good knowing that you’re helping to save the environment by reducing emissions. We hope you can use the advice in this article to find a car with the best fuel economy possible.