If you want a fun car but you don't want to blow a ton of money on fuel, you're spoiled for choice right now. Here are a number of genuinely fun cars that'll get 30 mpg or better on the highway, as certified by the EPA.
The Focus ST makes for a great all-rounder, and not just because it's got a practical hatchback body. On the highway you can achieve 30 MPG with that 252-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four—if you keep your foot out of it, that is. Tough considering how fun this thing is to drive quickly.
Under its pretty skin, the Audi TT is basically an all-wheel-drive GTI. The extra weight of the AWD system means the TT can't match the GTI's 34-mpg highway fuel economy, but it still offers a great mix of performance and economy
Like the Chevrolet Camaro, the Ford Mustang offers a turbocharged four-cylinder option for buyers who want more fuel efficiency. Ford's four-cylinder offers more power than the Chevy, though, bringing 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque to the party. For a pony car that can hit 30 mpg on the highway, that's impressive.
You can have your Jaguar XE with a super-efficient four-cylinder diesel, or even a four-cylinder gas engine, but why bother when the V6 still gets 30 mpg on the highway? It's basically the same 340-hp supercharged V6 used in the F-Type. Of course, you'll have to be very careful to get that sort of fuel mileage with this engine.
The Camaro SS is undeniably awesome, and if you get the automatic, that big V8 will do 28 mpg on the highway. Drivers looking for more fuel-efficient fun can eke out an extra three miles per gallon if they opt for the base engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It makes 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, good for 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, and 31 mpg highway.
For 2018, Honda was nice enough to take the Civic Type R's turbo 2.0-liter engine and drop it into the Accord—it's even available with a manual transmission. Not only that, it's able to get 32 MPG on the highway. Not bad Honda, not bad.
Amazingly, a rear-wheel drive six-cylinder BMW 3-Series can do 32 mpg on the highway, if you don't bury your foot too often. That's amazing for a 320-hp car that's a hoot on a twisty backroad.
Toyota and Subaru took a classic sports-car approach to creating the 86 and BRZ. They make a "mere" 205 horsepower, but pair it with a light, nimble chassis. With the automatic, you'll get around 34 mpg on the highway too. You give up some fuel efficiency with the manual transmission, but we think it's worth the trade.
Obviously no one is going to look at the Fiat 500, even in Abarth guise, and think it's a gas guzzler. It looks every bit like the fuel-efficient city car it is. But when you hear its raucous, uncorked exhaust note, you'll realize this isn't the economy version. If you opt for the manual transmission, the Abarth version of the 500 gets a respectable 33 mpg highway.
The Fiat 500 Abarth is a blast to drive around the city, but buyers looking for a more refined driving experience should look no further than the Ford Fiesta ST. It's not quite as fuel efficient as the 1.0-liter Ecoboost version, but you'll still get 33 mpg highway, and you'll have more fun than anyone should be able to in a sub-$25,000 car.
Having a lightweight carbon-fiber tub for a body has its advantages—one of which is fuel economy. Because the 4C's 237-horsepower turbo-four doesn't have much weight to push around, it doesn't drink much gas when it's not in boost.
You'd think that with an all-wheel-drive Golf R in the lineup, the front-wheel-drive GTI would be overshadowed. That's simply not the case—the GTI is a total blast to drive. Front-wheel drive haters be damned. You'll also get up to 34 mpg highway when equipped with the manual transmission.
You can still have fuel-efficient fun in a BMW. The 230i will hit 35 mpg on the highway if you choose the automatic, but it's still a blast to drive. Its 248-horsepower engine is powerful enough to hit 60 mph in as little as 5.2 seconds.
The Mazda 6 is far more fun-to-drive than any mid-size sedan has a right to be. It's only offered with one engine, a 184-hp 2.5-liter four, but it's a good one, especially when paired with a six-speed manual transmission.
Cars that go fast in a straight line are fun, we won't deny that. But there's also something enjoyable about a car that's perfectly balanced and poised through the corners. For more than 20 years, the Mazda Miata has been exactly that, and boy do we love it. The latest Miata loses its "cute" look, but it's still an absolute blast to drive. All that fun also comes cheaply, with the Miata getting 35 mpg on the highway if you opt for the automatic. The manual still gets a respectable 33 mpg.
The Mazda 3 is one of the sweetest driving compacts on the market, and when equipped with either a 2.0- or 2.5-liter four-cylinder, it achieves well over 30 mpg on the highway. We recommend the bigger engine and Mazda's nice six-speed manual.
No matter which version of the Mini Cooper you get, you'll have a car that's small, fuel efficient, and fun to drive. The most fuel-efficient version, with a 1.5-liter turbo three-cylinder, is rated at 38 mpg highway, and it's a hoot. Even the hotter Cooper S will manage 32 mpg on the highway
We weren't sure whether we should include the BMW i8 on this list because of its price. But in the end, we couldn't ignore it. In the speed department, the $140,000- i8 will hold its own against similarly-priced competitors, hitting 60 mph in a scant 3.6 seconds. Amazingly, it does that with the help of a turbocharged three-cylinder borrowed from the Mini Cooper, aided by two electric motors. Despite its performance, the plug-in hybrid i8 is rated at 76 MPGe—though you'll probably get closer to 30 if you're driving it in Sport mode.