Buying and Driving Fuel Efficient and Alternative Fuel Vehicles

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Electric vehicles are just one option for buyers interested in fuel efficient or alternative fuel vehicles. | Photo courtesy of Dennis Schroeder, NREL.

When purchasing a vehicle, consider fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles. Use the tips and tools below to select the right vehicle for you, and to get the most out of your purchase.

  • Choose your vehicle according to your need. For example, if you mostly drive in cities, a smaller hybrid might be right for you because it gets better mileage in city driving and is easier to park. If you have more than one vehicle available to you, drive the most fuel- efficient vehicle whenever possible.
  • If you need a vehicle for towing or heavy use, consider a clean diesel vehicle. Diesel engines are more powerful and 30%-35% more efficient than similar-sized gasoline engines. New diesel engines are much smoother and quieter than their predecessors. The new generation of clean diesel vehicles must meet the same emissions standards as gasoline vehicles. Drivers of diesel vehicles can be even more sustainable by fueling up with a biodiesel blend. All manufacturers allow the use of B5 (diesel with up to 5% biodiesel) and some accept the use of B20 (diesel with up to 20% biodiesel). 
  • Many vehicles produced by U.S. auto manufacturers are flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can run on E85 (up to 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) and other ethanol-gasoline blends. Check your owner's manual to find out if your vehicle is an FFV.
  • Consider buying a highly fuel-efficient vehicle. A fuel-efficient, hybrid electric, plug-in electric, or other alternative fuel vehicle could cut your fuel costs and help the environment.
  • If you have a plug-in hybrid electric or an all-electric vehicle, charging stations for electric vehicles are increasingly available throughout the country. You can find charging and alternative fuel stations—such as those that offer E85—on the Alternative Fueling Station Locator.

To help you purchase and drive the fuel efficient or alternative fuel vehicle that meets your needs, use FuelEconomy.gov's Find-a-Car tool and the Alternative Fuels Data Center.