Ten Cars With Better Fuel Economy Than A Toyota Camry Hybrid

The hybrid version of the Toyota Camry is, behind the Toyota Prius, the best-selling hybrid in America, but there are at least ten other cars for sale this year that get better EPA-estimated mileage on the city, highway or combined cycles. Some are diesels, some are hybrids and some are just light-weight cars with smaller displacement motors. But all share one thing in common — they're more fuel efficient. So why's the Camry Hybrid selling so well? Your answer's as good as ours.


But first some stats on the Toyota Camry Hybrid. For starters, it's a "dual-mode" hybrid utilizing the same Toyota-branded Hybrid Synergy Drive found in the Toyota Prius. The trim level of the Camry Hybrid is relatively up-featured, including LED taillights, a DVD-based navigational system and most of the features found on the top-of-the-line Camry XLE. Though the Camry was originally advertised with a higher mileage, new EPA standards bring the over-reaching hybrid down to a city and highway rating in the low-to-mid 30 mpg range. Despite the lower rating, the Camry Hybrid is still the sales king for those who want a hybrid, aren't concerned about highway mileage, and want something that looks more normal than a Prius. However, there are alternatives to the super number one best automaker from the land of the rising sun. City: 33 mpg Highway: 34 mpg Combined: 34 mpg MSRP: $26,150

2009 Honda Civic GX CNG

The Honda Civic GX CNG is an interesting study in alternative fuel sources, their advantages and what-the-hell T. Boone Pickens is talking about. The GX looks just like any other Honda Civic, but runs on compressed natural gas typically added from a home fueling station. This Civic is inferior to the Camry in terms of city or combined mileage, but slightly bests the Toyota sedan on the highway. The Civic GX also has a lower cost of ownership (it needs minimal services), has a significantly smaller carbon footprint and costs about the same. The technology is still in development, though, so less than 1,000 vehicles are typically produced each year. City: 24 mpg Highway: 36 mpg Combined: 28 mpg Advantage Over Camry: Highway MSRP: $25,090

2009 Kia Rio (Auto)


The Kia is among the smallest, cheapest new cars for sale in the United States, coming in at more than half the price of the Toyota Camry Hybrid and more than 1,000 pounds lighter. Powered by a 110-horsepower fourbanger tied to a CVT transmission, the little Kia is slightly better than the Camry on the highway, though much worse in the city. While much cheaper, the Rio offers few of the features and almost none of the prestige, comfort, desirability or practicality of the Camry. Even with limited availability for Toyota, the 2008 Rio only bested the Camry Hybrid's sales by 134 cars. City: 26 mpg Highway: 35 mpg Combined: 30 mpg Advantage Over Camry: Highway MSRP: $12,145

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt LS Coupe XFE


Essentially a 2009 Chevy Cobalt with a few light tweaks, the Cobalt XFE is modified ever so slightly to improve fuel economy — and prove that an American car can make the grade without a hybrid drive. Adjustments are mostly under the hood where the engineers tweaked the intake and exhaust valve lift duration, swapped the transmission gear ratios for lower operating revs, and put on some low-rolling-resistance tires. The result may only be 1 mpg over the previous year, but that's a step in the right direction. Like the other cars that take the lighter approach, the biggest gains are found at highway speeds. City: 25 mpg Highway: 37 mpg Combined: 30 mpg Advantage Over Camry: Highway MSRP: $15,225

2009 Mini Cooper (Manual)


Fans of the Mini Cooper have always been able to boast about all the fun they have driving their itsy-bitsy British bimmer — so much fun that they forget to mention that it gets stellar gas mileage. Though not as useful as a Camry as a family vehicle, the Mini is at least a few hundred times more fun and gets a combined mileage just 2 mpg short of the big hybrid. There are no tricks here. The Mini is just a well-engineered, sufficiently-powered small car offered with a sixth gear. City: 28 mpg Highway: 37 mpg Combined: 32 mpg Advantage Over Camry: Highway MSRP: $19,200

2009 Toyota Yaris (Manual)


All of the 2009 Yaris models equipped with the manual transmission get the same EPA mileage, so you're not necessarily stuck with a little three-door hatch if that's your route towards mileage. The five-door S hatch comes equipped with rear-window wipers, fog lights, MP3/CD player w/ iPod interface and other nice features, though you'll have to tack on $3,000 to the base price. Though it can't quite compete with the Camry in city driving, this tiny Toyota does better on the highway and is close on the combined cycle. City: 29 mpg Highway: 36 Combined: 32 mpg Advantage Over Camry: Highway MSRP: $12,205

2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid


We found the 2008 Mariner Hybrid to be a fairly decent ride with only a few flaws, many of which were addressed with the 2009 refresh. The Mariner Hybrid, and it's twin brother Escape Hybrid, is most similar to the Camry in that it offers power, luxury and good gas mileage in a single package — an SUV package at that. Though slightly off the Camry's total, this is one of the few vehicles that bests the Toyota in the city. City: 34 mpg Highway: 31 mpg Combined: 32 mpg Advantage Over Camry: City MSRP: $29,750

2009 Volkswagen Jetta & Jetta SportWagen TDI (Manual)


Both the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and its wagon sibling the SportWagen are within the Camry's price range and offer the utility, relative luxury and foreign car appeal of the Toyota. Unlike the Camry, the Jettas are both eligible for a tax credit. In the ongoing diesel-versus-hybrid debate the TDI twins step up with a comparable combined cycle and a substantially higher highway experience, a reflection of the efficiency and power of the diesel engine. And there's no risk of running short because of battery supplies. City: 30 mpg Highway: 41 mpg Combined: 34 mpg Advantage Over Camry: Highway MSRP: $21,990/$23,590

2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid


Nissan is still technically selling the Altima Hybrid, a car that is a direct competitor with the Camry, but sales have lagged far behind nearly all of its competitors. Why? It may have something to do with battery supply, but it also may have something to do with the reason why people are choosing the regular Camry over the regular Altima: age. The Altima, though refreshed, is a rather tired design that lacks the same appeal and luxury of the Toyota. It trumps the better-selling green sedan in the city, but no one seems to care. City: 35 mpg Highway: 33 mpg Combined: 34 mpg Advantage Over Camry: City MSRP: $26,650

2009 Honda Civic Hybrid


It should come as no surprise that the 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid, currently the third-best selling hybrid car behind the Camry, bests the Camry in all areas of fuel economy by a large margin. It's smaller. It's lighter. The Prius is more of a competitor to this hybrid than the Camry, though Toyota has done a good job of making their larger hybrid price competitive with the Civic sedan. City: 40 Highway: 45 Combined: 42 mpg Advantage Over Camry: City, Highway, Combined MSRP: $23,550

2009 Toyota Prius


The king. The reigning champ. The green boss. You can't touch the Prius and neither can the Camry Hybrid — at least not in mileage. Though all of these buyers are likely eco-minded, some hybrid huggers just don't like the Prius, don't want a hatchback or maybe just think the larger hybrid sedan is a perfect foil. City: 48 mpg Highway: 45 mpg Combined: 46 mpg Advantage: City, Highway, Combined MSRP: $22,000 [Hybrid Sales Data: HybridCars.com. Fuel Economy Data: FuelEconomy.gov]

Share This Story