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2014 Ford Fiesta

Thursday Throwdown: Most Fuel-Efficient 2014 Cars

In today’s Thursday Throwdown, we compare fuel-efficient compact and midsize cars. It’s a bit of a change from our usual comparisons. This time we’re focusing on fuel economy and price to find cars that we consider the best value. While our 2014 models are all fuel-efficient, we’ve kept hybrid and electric cars out of the mix so that we can focus on models that get great fuel economy with a conventional internal combustion engine.

Our top picks are chosen for their cost-effectiveness and efficiency. These 2014 models are beginning to appear as used car and dealer demonstration vehicles now, so be sure to check out our Used Car Listings to find one for yourself.

2014 Top Most Fuel-efficient Cars Picks

Lowest Compact Entry Price: Mazda Mazda3
Lowest Midsize Entry Price: Mazda Mazda6
Best Compact Value: Mazda Mazda3
Best Midsize Value: Nissan Altima
Best Compact Fuel Economy: Ford Fiesta SFE
Best Midsize Fuel Economy: Volkswagen Passat TDI

Compact: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

2014-Chevrolet-Cruze-Diesel-3-AOA800pxThe Chevrolet Cruze is a well-made compact car that seats five. The diesel option comes with a six-speed automatic transmission and high fuel-efficiency (up to 33 mpg combined according to the EPA). The turbodiesel four-cylinder engine is new to the Cruze, and delivers good passing power.

The interior of the 2014 Cruze in the base diesel configuration is upscale and spacious. Standard features are generous and include a six-speaker sound system with USB and auxiliary jacks and Bluetooth.

[Read: Best Used Car Deals for May]

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
Base price new: $25,695
EPA mpg (city/highway): 27/46
Crash test ratings: IIHS – G/M/G/G/G, NHTSA – 5-Stars

Compact: 2014 Ford Fiesta SFE

A sporty road presence marks the award-winning Ford Fiesta. The 2014 Fiesta with the SFE package is powered by a four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, which deliver excellent fuel economy at 28/38 mpg city/highway. Fiesta SFE models with a five-speed manual transmission get even better fuel economy at 31/43 mpg, thanks in part to a smaller, turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Despite its low price point and small size, the Fiesta has a solid road presence and smart resale value.

[Read: Compact Car Buying Guide]

2014 Ford Fiesta SFE
Base price new: $17,900
EPA mpg (city/highway): 31/43
Crash test ratings: IIHS – G/M/G/G/G, NHTSA – 4/4/2/4

Compact: 2014 Mazda Mazda3

2014 Mazda3 - sky3 - AOA1200pxThe Mazda3 encompasses a full package of fun driving dynamics, great fuel economy and excellent safety ratings. A four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission are standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. A more powerful four-cylinder engine upgrade is available, but the Mazda3 gets its best fuel economy estimates with the base engine, returning up to 30/41 mpg city/highway.

The interior of the Mazda3 is sleek and very well-designed. Materials are of quality and the award-winning Mazda3 offers plenty of head- and legroom in all seating positions. Standard features are plentiful as well.

[Read: 2015 Mazda Mazda3 Review]

2014 Mazda Mazda3
Base price new: $16,945
EPA mpg (city/highway): 30/41
Crash test ratings: IIHS – TSP+, NHTSA – 5-Stars

Midsize: 2014 Mazda Mazda6

All-new for 2014, the Mazda6 provides excellent fuel economy at up to 28/40 mpg city/highway. The Mazda6 won near-universal acclaim for its notable looks, and it has a premium ride and an engaging driving experience. The award-winning 6 is Mazda’s flagship sedan.

The base Mazda6 has standard features aplenty while its most upscale trim level readily achieved the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ award, making it one of only two vehicles in this week’s throwdown to do so (the other one is the Mazda3).

[Read: What You Need to Know About Buying a Car Out of State]

2014 Mazda Mazda6
Base price new: $20,990
EPA mpg (city/highway): 28/40
Crash test ratings: IIHS – TSP+, NHTSA – 5-Stars

Midsize: 2014 Nissan Altima

2014 Nissan Altima - daylight 2 - AOA1200pxThe Nissan Altima is a practical family sedan that’s noted for its powerful athleticism and one of the best continuously variable transmissions in the business. High fuel economy and smart looks are factors that draw people to the Altima as well. Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry, push-button start and Nissan’s award-winning Zero Gravity seating system for the driver and front passenger.

[Read: 2015 Nissan Altima Review]

2014 Nissan Altima
Base price new: $22,170
EPA mpg (city/highway): 27/38
Crash test ratings: IIHS – TSP, NHTSA – 5-Stars

Midsize: 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI

Two things set the Volkswagen Passat TDI apart from others in the midsize sedan market: plentiful interior space and very high fuel economy on the highway. The Passat TDI offers contemporary looks and smart, albeit spartan, interior space. Three adults can sit across the rear seat comfortably, which is a rarity in the midsize sedan field.

The diesel engine in the Passat TDI delivers excellent performance and up to 31/43 mpg city/highway.

[Read: Cars with the Most Powertrain Options]

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI
Base price new: $28,030
EPA mpg (city/highway): 31/43
Crash test ratings: IIHS – TSP, NHTSA – 5-Stars

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