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Cheap High MPG Cars: 1990

The 1990 model year saw the high-MPG field tighten, as gas mileage ceased to be the priority it was in the early years of the previous decade. While half of the top ten highest-MPG cars in 1990 carried a domestic nameplate, those choices were all imports. GM grabbed the top honors with the fuel-sipping three-cylinder Geo Metro XFI, a rebadged Suzuki Swift. (In fact, all of GM’s highest mileage offerings in 1990 were manufactured by Suzuki.) The Chevy Cavalier struggled to break the 35 MPG highway mark. On the other side of the domestic fence, just one model of the domestic Ford Escort broke the 40 MPG highway mark, as did the imported Ford Festiva. The two-seater Honda Civic CRX HF continued to produce respectable results, with a 52 MPG highway mark. The Jetta remained as Volkswagen’s sole compact diesel.

Top Ten High MPG Cars – 1990 Model Year:

  • Geo Metro XFI 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 53 city / 58 highway
  • Honda Civic CRX HF 4-cyl., 1.5 liter – MPG: 49 city / 52 highway
  • Geo Metro 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 46 city / 50 highway
  • Suzuki Swift 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 46 city / 50 highway
  • Geo Metro LSI 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 46 city / 50 highway
  • Chevrolet Sprint 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 46 city / 50 highway
  • Pontiac Firefly 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 46 city / 50 highway
  • Honda Civic CRX HF 4-cyl., 1.5 liter – MPG: 43 city / 49 highway
  • Suzuki Swift 4-cyl., 1.3 liter – MPG: 40 city / 44 highway
  • Volkswagen Jetta 4-cyl., 1.6 liter – MPG: 37 city / 43 highway


1990 High MPG Gas Mileage Rankings (over 35 Highway):

Year
Manufacturer
Model
Engine
Displace.
Fuel
Trans.
City
Hwy
1990 Honda Civic CRX 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (L4) Auto 29 35
1990 Honda Civic CRX 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 32 35
1990 Honda Civic CRX HF 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 49 52
1990 Honda Civic CRX HF 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 43 49
1990 Chevrolet Sprint 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 38 39
1990 Chevrolet Sprint 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 46 50
1990 Chevrolet Turbo Sprint 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 37 42
1990 Daihatsu Charade 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 38 42
1990 Daihatsu Charade 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (M5) Manual 35 39
1990 Nissan Sentra 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M4) Manual 29 36
1990 Nissan Sentra 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 28 36
1990 Nissan Sentra Coupe 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 28 36
1990 Dodge Colt 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 31 36
1990 Ford Festiva 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (M5) Manual 35 41
1990 Geo Metro 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 37 40
1990 Geo Metro 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 46 50
1990 Geo Metro LSI 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 37 39
1990 Geo Metro LSI 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 46 50
1990 Geo Metro XFI 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 53 58
1990 Geo Storm 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 31 36
1990 Honda Civic 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 33 37
1990 Hyundai Excel 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36
1990 Hyundai Precis 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36
1990 Mitsubishi Mirage 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 31 36
1990 Plymouth Colt 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 31 36
1990 Pontiac Firefly 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 38 39
1990 Pontiac Firefly 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 46 50
1990 Pontiac Turbo Firefly 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 37 42
1990 Subaru Justy 3 cylinder 1.2 liter R (M5) Manual 33 37
1990 Subaru Justy 3 cylinder 1.2 liter R AV 34 35
1990 Subaru Justy 3 cylinder 1.2 liter R (M5) Manual 33 37
1990 Suzuki Swift 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 38 39
1990 Suzuki Swift 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 46 50
1990 Suzuki Swift 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (M5) Manual 40 44
1990 Suzuki Swift GT 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36
1990 Toyota Tercel 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 31 36
1990 Toyota Tercel 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 30 36
1990 Chevrolet Cavalier 4 cylinder 2.2 liter R (M5) Manual 25 36
1990 Ford Escort 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M4) Manual 32 42
1990 Ford Escort 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M5) Manual 27 36
1990 Isuzu Stylus 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 32 37
1990 Mazda 323/323 Protege 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 29 37
1990 Mazda 323/323 Protege 4 cylinder 1.8 liter R (M5) Manual 28 36
1990 Pontiac Lemans 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M4) Manual 29 38
1990 Pontiac Lemans 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 31 40
1990 Pontiac Sunbird 4 cylinder 2.0 liter R (M5) Manual 26 36
1990 Volkswagen Jetta 4 cylinder 1.6 liter D (M5) Manual 37 43
1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Wagon 4 cylinder 2.2 liter R (M5) Manual 25 36
1990 Nissan Sentra Wagon 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 27 36
1990 Ford Escort Wagon 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M5) Manual 27 36

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4 comments ↓

#1 Danny Smith on 01.25.08 at 12:07 am

I want a Suzuki Swift, today. Not a hybrid. Not a electric car. I want a 3 cylinder, 40 mpg (city) gas miser.

#2 litesong on 08.01.08 at 10:59 pm

How about a Ford Festiva with better rear seat room & comfort & better storage space? I’ve gotten 53MPG with my 4speed loaded down car for a camping vacation. Recently, I had a tank with 3 warmups & went over a 5500 foot mountain pass getting 51.8MPG. Several Festiva owners have gotten 57MPG with the 5 speed. Many Festiva owners have sailed right by 200,000 miles & kept going.

#3 litesong on 08.08.08 at 5:43 pm

Wow! My Festiva just had its 3rd tank in a row running thru the mountains, over 50MPG! The final Festiva run over the mountains had a total calculated elevation gain & loss of 10,300 feet! Other ups & downs may have pushed the total to 11,000 feet!

Recently had new sparkplug wires & timing belt installed. So if your car is a bit low on its MPG & its been 60,000 miles since you replaced wires & timing belt, there is no better time than now to replace these items.

#4 IXLR8 on 05.06.10 at 1:06 am

I have two ’90 Ford Escorts. One is the PONY and the other is the LX. Both are 3-door hatch…but the LX has a 5-spd manual tranny, whereas the PONY has the 4-spd manual. The LX has A/C when the PONY doesn’t. I’m averaging about 40-42MPG HWY on the PONY, but the LX is only about 36MPG HWY. What – is the transmission heavier to have that extra gear, or is it the air conditioner that’s eating it’s gas up?? The PONY’s engine has been rebuilt once, and it currently has 44Kmiles on it. The car itself has nearly 300,000 miles on it, and it’s time for new struts. Other than that, they both get decent gas mileage and they both run like sewing machines to this day. And for a 1.9L throttle body carb…acceleration is not bad. With the economy going to hell in hand basket…the smart thing to do is to find a used car that got great gas mileage. If it needs an engine overhaul, it’s well worth the effort and it will pay for itself in the long run.

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