by Greg Wilson

It’s too early to tell if rising gas prices will force motorists to trade in their Suburbans and Expeditions for Metro’s and Civics, but for those who do want to compare vehicle’s fuel consumption ratings, the 2000 Fuel Consumption Guide published by Transport Canada and Natural Resources Canada offers complete fuel economy ratings for all cars, vans, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks available in Canada. This free brochure is available at many car dealers or by calling 1 800 387-2000. To compare fuel consumption ratings for vehciles built in Canada since 1995, see DealerSoft’s Fuel Consumption Guide. Fuel consumption ratings are also available on the web at autosmart.nrcan.gc.ca.

If you don’t have time to peruse the complete guide, here is a list of the top ten most fuel-efficient vehicles in each class, and a brief description of each:


Top Ten Cars

2001 Honda Insight
According to the 2000 Fuel Consumption Guide, the top ten most fuel-efficient vehicles in Canada are all cars. Number One is the new Honda Insight gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle which is scheduled to go on sale in May. The two-door, two passenger Insight achieves an amazing 3.9 l/100 km (72 mpg) in the city and 3.2 l/100 km (88 mpg) on the highway. Its powertrain consists of a small 67 horsepower 1.0 litre three cylinder gasoline engine, 10 KW electric motor, and an advanced Nickel Metal-Hydrid battery. The Insight switches seamlessly between electric and gasoline power depending on driving conditions. No word yet on its price.

2001 Toyota Prius
Not listed in the Fuel Consumption guide, but available this Summer is the Toyota Prius, a four-door, five-passenger gasoline electric hybrid which uses a similar type of hybrid powertrain. The Prius is expected to achieve better than 4.0 litres per 100 kilometres, handily confirming it as the second most fuel-efficient vehicle in Canada. It’s price too, has not yet been confirmed.

Third place is a tie between three diesel Volkswagens, the Golf Tdi ($20,800), Jetta Tdi ($23,100), and New Beetle Tdi ($24,300). All are rated at 5.6 l/100 km (50 mpg) in the city and 4.4 l/100 km (64 mpg) on the highway. Unlike earlier VW diesels, these updated turbo-diesel engines have sufficient horsepower (90) for everyday driving needs, and are considerably quieter and cleaner than earlier diesels. That makes them a real alternative to conventional gas engines.

In fourth place is the tiny Chevrolet Metro/Pontiac Firefly hatchback which is based on the Suzuki Swift. Base models ($10,795) have a thrifty 1.0 litre three cylinder engine which achieves 6.0 l/100 km (47 mpg) in the city and 4.5 l/100 km (63 mpg) on the highway. However, this engine is available only with a manual transmission. An automatic transmission is available with an optional 1.3 litre four cylinder engine which gets slightly higher fuel consumption. Metro’s and Firefly’s are also available as four-door sedans with the bigger 1.3 litre engine.

The similarly-designed Suzuki Swift hatchback ($11,595), in fifth place, comes standard with the 1.3 litre four cylinder engine and gets 6.4 l/100 km (44 mpg)in the city and 4.9 l/100 km (58 mpg) on the highway with a standard manual transmission.

2000 Toyota Echo
The sixth most fuel-efficient car in Canada is the new Toyota Echo ($13,835) which replaces the Tercel. Its 108 horsepower 1.5 litre four cylinder with variable valve timing is surprisingly powerful yet thrifty, achieving 7.0 l/100 km (40 mpg) in the city and 5.5 l/100 km (51 mpg) on the highway. The Echo is also very roomy for a small car and has a big trunk.

Seventh and eighth on the list respectively are two Saturns, the SL sedan ($13,588) and the SC Coupe ($16,743). These American-built, plastic-bodied compact cars have a standard 100 horsepower 1.9 litre four cylinder engine. The sedan gets 8.0 l/100 km (35 mpg) city and 5.3 l/100 km (53 mpg) highway, while the coupe is almost as good at 8.5 l/100 km (33 mpg) city and 5.4 l/100 km (52 mpg) highway.

Ninth is the popular Toyota Corolla compact sedan. The Corolla’s 125 horsepower 1.8 litre four cylinder engine uses the same sophisticated ‘intelligent’ variable valve timing as the Echo for better fuel economy and lower emissions. Starting at $15,625, the Corolla offers city mileage of 7.5 l/100 km (38 mpg) and highway mileage of 5.6 l/100 km (50 mpg).

Tenth is the Suzuki Esteem, a small sedan that’s slightly bigger than the Swift. With a base 95 horsepower 1.6 litre four cylinder engine and manual transmission, it achieves 7.6 l/100 km (37 mpg) in the city and 5.7 l/100 km (50 mpg) on the highway. Base price is $15,495.

It’s worth noting that the popular Honda Civic hatchback and sedan were excluded from the Top Ten list by a mere 1 mpg. Civics offer city mileage of 7.6 l/100 km (37 mpg) and highway mileage of 5.8 l/100 km (49 mpg). Prices start at $14,300.


Top Ten Minivans

Minivans are much less fuel-efficient than cars because of their larger size, weight, and V6 powertrains. None of the top ten most fuel-efficient minivans offer more than 8.4 l/100 km (34 mpg) on the highway, while most of the above-mentioned cars have better mileage than that in the city. Still, minivans can carry seven or eight passengers and could save two separate car trips, assuming all the seats are used.

2000 Chevrolet Venture
The most fuel-efficient minivans on the market are GM’s mid-sized Chevy Venture ($24,895), Pontiac Montana ($26,625), and Oldsmobile Silhouette ($30,630) – although not by much. These vans get 12.5 l/100 km (23 mpg) in the city and 8.4 l/100 km (34 mpg) on the highway from a standard 180 horsepower 3.4 litre V6 powerplant mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission.

The second best gas sipper is the Dodge Caravan ($23,585) with the base 3.0 litre V6 engine. Surprisingly, the extended wheelbase Dodge Grand Caravan with a 3.3 litre V6 ($25,760) has the same fuel consumption: 12.9 l/100 km (22 mpg) in the city and 8.6 l/100 km (33 mpg)on the highway.

Not far behind is the Honda Odyssey ($30,800), a made-in-Canada extended wheelbase minivan introduced last year. It’s 210 horsepower 3.0 litre V6 engine offers 13.3 l/100 km (21 mpg) in the city and 8.5 l/100 km (33 mpg) on the highway. For a large minivan with a lot of horsepower, the Odyssey is comparatively fuel-efficient.

Toyota’s Sienna ($27,475) placed fourth with 12.7 l/100 km (22 mpg) city, and 8.8 l/100 km (32 mpg) highway. Bigger than a Dodge Caravan but smaller than a Honda Odyssey, the seven passenger Sienna is based on the Camry and offers a 194 horsepower 3.0 litre V6 engine.

Fifth is the Nissan Quest ($30,498), another front-drive seven-passenger minivan about the size of the Sienna. Redesigned in 1999, its standard 170 horsepower 3.3 litre V6 offers 13.9 l/100 km (20 mpg)in the city and 9.0 l/100 km (31 mpg) on the highway.

Ford’s popular Windstar minivan ($25,995) rates sixth overall with fuel consumption of 13.3 l/100 km (21 mpg) city and 9.5 l/100 km (30 mpg) highway from its optional 200 horsepower 3.8 litre V6 engine.

Mazda’s recently-redesigned, front-wheel-drive MPV minivan ($24,555) is seventh with fuel economy of 13.6 l/100 km (21 mpg) city/9.9 l/100 km (29 mpg) highway. This short wheelbase, seven passenger minivan has a standard 170 horsepower 2.5 litre V6.

A different kind of minivan, the tall, boxy, front-wheel-drive VW Eurovan ($46,015) rates eighth amongst minivans. Its 140 horsepower 2.8 litre V6 engine gets 15.8 l/100 km (18 mpg) city and 11.0 l/100 km (26 mpg).

One of two rear-drive minivans on the list is the Chevrolet Astro/GMC Safari minivans ($24,265). A truck-like frame, and rear-drive layout enables them to tow heavier trailers, but fuel economy suffers a bit: 15.7 l/100 km (18 mpg) city and 11.4 l/100 km (25 mpg) highway.

Last on the top ten van list is bit of a surprise: the full-size, rear-drive Ford E-150 van ($37,295). With the optional 4.6 litre V8 engine, it offers 16.0 l/100 km (18 mpg) city and 11.3 l/100 km (25 mpg) highway – comparatively good for a large van.


Top Ten Sport Utility Vehicles

‘SUV’ and ‘fuel efficiency’ aren’t usually mentioned in the same sentence, but there are a number of smaller SUV’s with reasonably good fuel consumption. Most are based on car platforms and use full-time four-wheel-drive systems, and most have four cylinder engines.

Suzuki Vitara
The most fuel-efficient SUV, according to the 2000 Fuel Consumption Guide, is the two-door Chevrolet Tracker convertible ($19,365) and its Suzuki twin, the Vitara convertible ($18,495). With a base 1.6 litre four cylinder engine, this lightweight four passenger 4X4 gets 9.2 l/100 km (31 mpg) in the city and 7.6 l/100 km (37 mpg) on the highway.

Transport Canada rates the two-door, front-wheel-drive Toyota RAV4 in second place, however the front-wheel-drive RAV4 was discontinued for the 2000 model year, leaving second place to the four-door, all-wheel-drive Subaru Forester ($26,695). Based on the compact Impreza platform with a standard 2.2 litre horizontally-opposed four cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive, the Forester achieves 11.0 l/100 km (26 mpg) in the city, and 7.4 l/100 km (38 mpg) on the highway.

The four-door, hardtop versions of the Suzuki Vitara ($20,795) and Chevy Tracker ($20,890) with the bigger 2.0 litre four cylinder engine and optional automatic transmission were both in fourth place with 10.3 l/100 km (27 mpg) city and 8.3 l/100 km (34 mpg) highway. Two-door and four-door all-wheel-drive versions of the Toyota RAV4 ($24,285/$24,560) were just behind with 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg) city and 8.3 l/100 km (34 mpg) highway.

Sixth is another compact, all-wheel-drive SUV, the Honda CR-V ($26,000). Based on the Civic platform, the CRV is currently the most popular small SUV in Canada. City mileage is 11.0 l/100 km (26 mpg) and highway mileage is 8.9 l/100 km (32 mpg).

Seventh is the relatively new Kia Sportage ($20,995) from South Korea. This compact, four-door 4X4 has a 2.0 litre four cylinder engine and gets 11.3 l/100 km in the city (25 mpg) and 10.3 l/100 km (27 mpg) on the highway.

Eighth is the compact Suzuki Grand Vitara 4X4 ($23,995), a V6-powered version of the four-door Vitara. Its standard 2.5 litre V6 engine offers 12.3 l/100 km (23 mpg) in city driving and 9.7 l/100 km (29 mpg) on the highway.

Ninth on the list is a surprise: the mid-sized Lexus RX300 ($46,640) with all-wheel-drive. With a 3.0 litre V6 engine, the RX 300 receives remarkably good fuel economy of 12.8 l/100 km (22 mpg) city/9.7 l/100 km (29 mpg) highway.

Tenth spot belongs to the mid-sized Ford Explorer 4X2 when equipped with a 4.0 litre six cylinder engine and manual transmission ($32,595). Its fuel consumption figures of 12.3 l/100 km (21 mpg) city and 9.5 l/100 km (30 mpg) highway are considerably better than other Explorers equipped with V8 engines.


Top Ten Pickup Trucks

Fuel economy is often less important to pickup truck owners than towing and hauling capacity, but those who do use their pickups for daily commutes can benefit from a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
The top-ten most fuel-efficient pickup trucks are all compact trucks, with the exception of the mid-size Dakota which is in seventh spot. The first eight spots are occupied by 4X2 pickups, indicating that 4X4 drivetrains tend to eat up more fuel.

GM’s compact pickup trucks, the Chevrolet S-10 4X2 ($16,495), GMC Sonoma 4X2 ($16,495) and Isuzu Hombre 4X2 ($14,095) equipped with the base 2.2 litre four cylinder engine offer the best fuel economy, particularly on the highway: 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg) in the city and 7.4 l/100 km (38 mpg) on the highway.

In second place is the compact Toyota Tacoma 4X2 with a 2.4 litre 4 cylinder engine ($17,055): it offers 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg) in the city and 8.0 l/100 km (35 mpg) on the highway. Third is the Nissan Frontier 4X2 with a 2.4 litre 4 cylinder engine ($19,998) achieving 10.7 l/100 km (26 mpg) city and 8.4 l/100 km (34 mpg) highway.

The Ford Ranger 4X2 with a standard 3.0 litre V6 engine ($16,495) is fourth with 14.1 l/100 km (20 mpg) in the city and 9.5 l/100 km (30 mpg) on the highway. Next is the Toyota Tacoma with the optional 2.7 litre four cylinder engine. It’s rated at 12.5 l/100 km (23 mpg) city and 10.2 l/100 km (28 mpg) highway.

The sixth-placed Ford Ranger 4X2 equipped with the bigger 4.0 litre V6 engine gets 13.3 l/100 km (21 mpg) city/9.7 l/100 km (29 mpg) highway, while seventh-placed Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma 4X2 pickups equipped with the optional 4.3 litre V6 engine ($18,285) offer surprisingly good fuel economy of 14.4 l/100 km (20 mpg) city and 9.7 l/100 km (29 mpg) highway.

The only mid-size pickup of the bunch is the Dodge Dakota with a 3.9 litre V6 engine ($22,375). City mileage is 15.1 l/100 km (19 mpg) and highway mileage is 9.6 l/100 km (29 mpg).

The first 4X4 in the top ten is the Ford Ranger 4X4 ($26,195) with a standard 3.0 litre V6 engine. Its fuel economy of 13.9 l/100 km (20 mpg) in the city and 10.1 l/100 km (28 mpg) on the highway is only slightly worse than the Ranger 4X2 model.

Tenth place goes to the Toyota Tacoma 4X4 with a 2.7 litre 4 cylinder engine ($26,565). Again, its fuel consumption is just slightly worse than the Tacoma 4X2 model: 12.6 l/100 km (22 mpg) city/10.0 l/100 km (28 mpg) highway.


Fuel-Saving Tips

Whatever kind of car you drive, there are steps you can take to increase fuel economy. Natural Resources Canada Office of Energy Efficiency offers these fuel-saving tips:

  1. Check your tire’s air pressure monthly when the tires are cold. Proper tire pressure ratings can be found in your owner’s manual, on the door jamb, or in the glove box. For every two pounds pressure under the recommended tire pressure rating, fuel consumption increases by one percent.

  2. When starting, don’t idle your engine for more than thirty seconds. Idling, particularly in the summer, wastes fuel.
  3. In winter, use a block heater to warm the engine before starting. A cold engine is at its worst in terms of fuel consumption.
  4. Air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%. Use flow-through ventilation when possible.
  5. An increase in speed from 90 k/mh to 120 km/h increases fuel consumption by about 20 percent, so drive at the posted speed limits.
  6. Roof racks, loaded or empty, increase fuel consumption by increasing aerodynamic drag. Open sunroofs and windows also increase drag.
  7. Have your car serviced regularly. A poorly maintained car can consume up to 50% more in fuel. Change your engine oil and spark plugs regularly according to the recommendations in the owners’ manual, and if your car has a carburetor, make sure it is tuned properly.

The Top Ten Cars
Vehicle
City
Hwy
1.Honda Insight 3.9 l/100 km (72 mpg) 3.2 l/100 km (88 mpg)
2. Toyota Prius n/a (estimated 70 mpg)
3. VW Golf turbo-diesel 5.6 l/100 km (50 mpg) 4.4 l/100 km (64 mpg)
VW New Beetle turbo-diesel 5.6 l/100 km (50 mpg) 4.4 l/100 km (64 mpg)
VW Jetta turbo-diesel 5.6 l/100 km (50 mpg) 4.4 l/100 km (64 mpg)
4. Chevrolet Metro/Pontiac Firefly 6.0 l/100 km (47 mpg) 4.5 l/100 km (63 mpg)
5. Suzuki Swift (1.3) 6.4 l/100 km (44 mpg) 4.9 l/100 km (58 mpg)
6. Toyota Echo 7.0 l/100 km (40 mpg) 5.5 l/100 km (51 mpg)
7. Saturn SL 8.0 l/100 km (35 mpg) 5.3 l/100 km (53 mpg)
8. Saturn SC Coupe 8.5 l/100 km (33 mpg) 5.4 l/100 km (52 mpg)
9. Toyota Corolla 7.5 l/100 km (38 mpg) 5.6 l/100 km (50 mpg)
10. Suzuki Esteem 7.6 l/100 km (37 mpg) 5.7 l/100 km (50 mpg)
Top Ten Mini-vans
Chevrolet Venture/
Oldsmobile Silhouette/

Pontiac Montana

12.5 l/100 km (23 mpg) 8.4 l/100 km (34 mpg)
Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan 12.9 l/100 km (22 mpg) 8.6 l/100 km (33 mpg)
Honda Odyssey 13.3 l/100 km (21 mpg) 8.5 l/100 km (33 mpg)
Toyota Sienna 12.7 l/100 km (22 mpg) 8.8 l/100 km (32 mpg)
Nissan Quest 13.9 l/100 km (20 mpg) 9.0 l/100 km (31 mpg)
Ford Windstar 13.3 l/100 km (21 mpg) 9.5 l/100 km (30 mpg)
Mazda MPV 13.6 l/100 km (21 mpg) 9.9 l/100 km (29 mpg)
Volkswagen Eurovan 15.8 l/100 km (18 mpg) 11.0 l/100 km (26 mpg)
Chevrolet Astro/

GMC Safari

15.7 l/100 km (18 mpg) 11.4 l/100 km (25 mpg)
Ford E-150 16.0 l/100 km (18 mpg) 11.3 l/100 km (25 mpg)
Top Ten SUV’s
Chevrolet Tracker 4X4 conv. 1.6/
Suzuki Vitara 4X4 conv. 1.6
9.2 l/100 km (31 mpg) 7.6 l/100 km (37 mpg)
Subaru Forester (AWD) 11.0 l/100 km (26 mpg) 7.4 l/100 km (38 mpg)
Chevrolet Tracker/

Suzuki Vitara 4X4 2.0

10.3 l/100 km (27 mpg) 8.3 l/100 km (34 mpg)
Toyota RAV4 4X4 2/4 door 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg) 8.3 l/100 km (34 mpg)
Honda CRV (AWD) 11.0 l/100 km (26 mpg) 8.9 l/100 km (32 mpg)
Kia Sportage 10.3 l/100 km (25 mpg) 11.3 l/100 km (27 mpg)
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4X4 12.3 l/100 km (23 mpg) 9.7 l/100 km (29 mpg)
Lexus RX300 4X4 12.8 l/100 km (22 mpg) 9.7 l/100 km (29 mpg)
Ford Explorer (4.0 l 6) 12.3 l/100 km (21 mpg) 9.5 l/100 km (30 mpg)
Top Ten Pickup Trucks
Chevrolet S-10 4X2 (2.2 l 4)
GMC Sonoma/Isuzu Hombre
10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg) 7.4 l/100 km (38 mpg)
Toyota Tacoma 4X2 (2.4 l 4) 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg) 8.0 l/100 km (35 mpg)
Nissan Frontier 4X2 (2.4 l 4) 10.7 l/100 km (26 mpg) 8.4 l/100 km (34 mpg)
Ford Ranger 4X2 (3.0 l V6) 14.1 l/100 km (20 mpg) 9.5 l/100 km (30 mpg)
Toyota Tacoma 4X2 (2.7 l 4) 12.5 l/100 km (23 mpg) 10.2 l/100 km (28 mpg)
Ford Ranger 4X2 (4.0 l V6) 13.3 l/100 km (21 mpg) 9.7 l/100 km (29 mpg)
Chev. S-10 4X2/

GMC Sonoma 4X2 (4.3 l V6)

14.4 l/100 km (20 mpg) 9.7 l/100 km (29 mpg)
Dodge Dakota 4X2 (3.9 l V6) 15.1 l/100 km (19 mpg) 9.6 l/100 km (29 mpg)
Ford Ranger 4X4 (3.0 l V6) 13.9 l/100 km (20 mpg) 10.1 l/100 km (28 mpg)
Toyota Tacoma 4X4 (2.7 l 4) 12.6 l/100 km (22 mpg) 10.0 l/100 km (28 mpg)


Source: 2000 Fuel Consumption Guide, Office of Energy Efficiency of Natural Resources Canada.
Prices quoted are base MSRP’s (manufacturer’s suggested retail prices).

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