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Cheap High MPG Cars: 1991

1991′s Top Ten High MPG list is dominated by GM-badged Suzukis, wearing Geo Metro, Pontiac Firefly, and Chevy Sprint nameplates. Eight of the top ten spots are taken by variations of the Suzuki Swift in both three- and four-cylinder form. (All run on regular fuel and are equipped with five-speed manual transmissions.) The convertible Geo Metro LSI is perhaps the most interesting of all … it’s hard to argue the fun factor of a ragtop with 46 miles per gallon on open road. Honda’s CRX HF was the sole non-Suzuki entry among the most thrifty, with 1991 ending its run.

All-in-all, 1991 wasn’t a bad year for high-MPG cars, with cars from Daihatsu, Dodge, Eagle, Ford, Hyundai, Lincoln-Mercury, Mazda, Mitsubushi, Nissan, Plymouth, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen joining the GM and Honda entries in breaking the 35 highway miles per gallon mark.

Top Ten High MPG Cars – 1991 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
  • Pontiac Firefly – 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 45 city / 50 highway
  • Suzuki Swift – 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 45 city / 50 highway
  • Geo Metro – 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 45 city / 50 highway
  • Chevrolet Sprint – 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 45 city / 50 highway
  • Geo Metro LSI – 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 45 city / 50 highway
  • Honda Civic CRX HF – 4-cyl., 1.5 liter – MPG: 43 city / 49 highway
  • Geo Metro LSI Convertible – 3-cyl., 1.0 liter – MPG: 41 city / 46 highway
  • Suzuki Swift – 4-cyl., 1.3 liter – MPG: 39 city / 43 highway


1991 High MPG Gas Mileage Rankings

Year
Manufacturer
Model
Engine
Displace.
Fuel
Trans.
City
Hwy
1991 Geo Metro LSI Convertible 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 32 37
1991 Geo Metro LSI Convertible 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 41 46
1991 Honda Civic CRX 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 32 36
1991 Honda Civic CRX HF 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 49 52
1991 Honda Civic CRX HF 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 43 49
1991 Nissan NX Coupe 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (L4) Auto 27 36
1991 Nissan NX Coupe 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 28 38
1991 Chevrolet Cavalier 4 cylinder 2.2 liter R (M5) Manual 24 35
1991 Chevrolet Sprint 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 36 39
1991 Chevrolet Sprint 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 45 50
1991 Daihatsu Charade 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 38 42
1991 Daihatsu Charade 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (M5) Manual 35 38
1991 Nissan Sentra 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (L4) Auto 27 36
1991 Nissan Sentra 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M4) Manual 29 37
1991 Nissan Sentra 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 29 38
1991 Dodge Colt 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 31 36
1991 Dodge Colt 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 35
1991 Ford Festiva 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (M5) Manual 35 42
1991 Geo Metro 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 36 39
1991 Geo Metro 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 45 50
1991 Geo Metro LSI 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 36 39
1991 Geo Metro LSI 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 45 50
1991 Geo Metro XFI 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 53 58
1991 Geo Storm 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 30 36
1991 Honda Civic 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 33 37
1991 Honda Civic 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 31 35
1991 Hyundai Excel 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 30 36
1991 Hyundai Excel 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36
1991 Mitsubishi Mirage 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 31 36
1991 Mitsubishi Mirage 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 35
1991 Plymouth Colt 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 31 36
1991 Plymouth Colt 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 35
1991 Pontiac Firefly 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 36 39
1991 Pontiac Firefly 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 45 50
1991 Pontiac Sunbird 4 cylinder 2.0 liter R (M5) Manual 26 36
1991 Subaru Justy 3 cylinder 1.2 liter R (M5) Manual 33 37
1991 Subaru Justy 3 cylinder 1.2 liter R AV 33 35
1991 Subaru Justy 3 cylinder 1.2 liter R (M5) Manual 33 37
1991 Suzuki Swift 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (A3) Auto 36 39
1991 Suzuki Swift 3 cylinder 1.0 liter R (M5) Manual 45 50
1991 Suzuki Swift 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (M5) Manual 39 43
1991 Suzuki Swift GT 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (M5) Manual 28 35
1991 Toyota Tercel 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 33 37
1991 Toyota Tercel 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 35
1991 Eagle Summit 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M4) Manual 31 36
1991 Eagle Summit 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 35
1991 Ford Escort 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36
1991 Ford Escort FS 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M5) Manual 31 41
1991 Hyundai Precis 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36
1991 Isuzu Stylus 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 31 37
1991 Lincoln-Mercury Tracer 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36
1991 Mazda 323/323 Protege 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 29 37
1991 Mazda 323/323 Protege 4 cylinder 1.8 liter R (M5) Manual 28 36
1991 Pontiac Lemans 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M4) Manual 29 38
1991 Pontiac Lemans 4 cylinder 1.6 liter R (M5) Manual 31 40
1991 Saturn SL 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (L4) Auto 26 35
1991 Saturn SL 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M5) Manual 27 37
1991 Volkswagen Jetta 4 cylinder 1.6 liter D (M5) Manual 37 43
1991 Volkswagen Jetta 4 cylinder 1.6 liter D (M5) Manual 37 40
1991 Ford Escort Wagon 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36
1991 Honda Civic Wagon 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (M5) Manual 31 35
1991 Lincoln-Mercury Tracer Wagon 4 cylinder 1.9 liter R (M5) Manual 29 36

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11 comments ↓

#1 Dave Coffey on 07.04.08 at 4:25 pm

Does anyone know why we can’t have these kind of mpg cars today?

#2 litesong on 08.04.08 at 1:13 am

Hi Dave…..A Toyota Yaris just past thru Yellowstone Nat’l Park, getting 60+MPG. One fellow is AVERAGING 48MPG with his Honda Fit. On 3 day trips to e. Washington & Mt. Rainier over 1400, 3000, two 4000 & 5500 foot mountain passes from sea level, I drove a Hyundai Accent to 41.5, 42.6, & 45MPG. Today’s small cars, driven with a feather foot, will exceed EPA highway estimates by 12+MPG. Start feather footing people. Lead footing is passe & never was taking care of our planet Earth, other citizens health or our balance of payments.

Besides, I still drive my 88 Ford Festiva that will probably last another 10 years. Last week, it got 51.8MPG while warming up 3 times over 3 days, & going over the 5500 mountain pass.

Yes, good high MPG cars are still made & ‘the oldies, but goodies’ are still providing good MPG. & you don’t have to pay high Hybrid costs to save gas money either.

#3 mike on 10.25.08 at 6:32 pm

Almost all cars get better gas mileage at higher altitudes because the air is “thinner” … many cars today cannot deliver high gas mileage because of “safety features” the manufacturers claim the public demands and that they have to include. The old geo metros did not have side curtain airbags, cruise control, electric windows, higher impact bumpers, alloy wheels, etc., and other features that add to the weight of current models and therefore which decrease mileage and increase cost of the vehicle and the cost to insure it.

#4 gary on 12.01.08 at 1:05 am

Mike all of what you say is true, but there are other reasons also. One is higher horse power. Most new cars have much higher horse power. Usually a complete waste for urban and subarban driving. Pickup trucks with 300 horse power is really quite stupid. If you take an analytical look at the rise in horsepower and the size of the vehicle along with the proposed function of the vehicle you will see a greater correlation between marketing and profit potential than any other factor. An SUV with 300 hp and a 5 passenger capacity hardly compares mileage wise to a sedan with 150 hp and 6 passenger capacity that was common in the late 1970s to mid 1980s. Essentially we have taken 5 steps backwards in effeciency so the US auto makers could increase profit margin per vehicle. The larger vehicles have historically higher profit per vehicle. I hate to say this but US consumers are easily manipulated. Some find it hard to accept, but the market place has us figured out. 30 years ago after the 1972 gas OPEC created crisis, there were so many vehicles with gas mileage in the 35 to 50 mpg range that the only problem was just figuring out which one to buy. In 1972 I purchased an Opel Manta 37 MPG with auto transmission. It actually achieved about 36 Highway driving the speed limit. 36 years later auto manufactures are using 30 mpg as selling point. When a 20 plus year old driver tell my his 4 passenger sedan achieves 24 mpg and adds that he thinks it is pretty good; I can only smile.

#5 Ken on 07.20.09 at 11:42 am

I don’t truly understand things today. Yes…I will admit that I have a decent MPG car in my Cavalier and a gas gulping Corvette. But..my 1991 CRX boasted 50 mpg. It was a solid car and I can’t understand why the so-called hybrid models of many…not all..cars today don’t even come close. I loved my CRX….bring it back Honda..BRING IT BACK!!!

#6 mpg-o-editor on 07.21.09 at 8:45 am

@Ken – Amen on the CRX! I owned an ’86 CRX Si … what a great little car. It didn’t deliver nearly as many MPGs as the super fuel-efficient CRX HF, but it was an absolute blast to drive. The 1.5-liter engine in the Si put out a whopping 91 horsepower … roughly a 50% boost over the HF’s numbers.

Light weight is the key … the HF weighed in at just over 1,700 pounds, the Si at 1,950 or so.

#7 Karl on 11.25.11 at 12:08 am

Ever notice how the U.S. government likes to over rate their American vehicles and under rate the Japanese ones. Back in 91 a ranger or s10 was supposed to get better mpg’s then a toyota pickup but the toyota blew them away because I’ve owned all of these. My toyota which I still have was rated 19 city and 23 hwy but it really gets 31 mpg? These 1991 charts seem to be accurate, where as in the older ones there must not be any accurate information and more so based on a few blow hards saying how get they got for mileage.

#8 mpg-o-editor on 11.25.11 at 9:12 am

@Karl – The biggest misconception is that the U.S. government is testing all of the vehicles. The manufacturers submit numbers. The government either accepts or not. Were they more willing to accept optimistic numbers from domestic manufacturers? That’s a big part of the story …

That said, driving style has a huge impact on fuel efficiency. Condemning others for their results is not constructive.

#9 Adam Caldwell on 12.09.12 at 6:51 am

I drive a 94 honda civic VX. I get 45 to 47 combined “mostly city” but its original window sticker claimed 55 mph to 65 mph. But those was the days before the evil lies of Ethanol, reducing our fuel efficiency by 15 % if not more. we did take a 425 miles trip 47 mpg… and then I found NON Ethanol and filled up for the trip home, we got 52 mpg over 425 miles and I averaged 65 to 70 mph…

#10 mpg-o-editor on 12.09.12 at 9:26 am

@Adam – I’ve wanted to test this for quite some time, but non-ethanol gasoline isn’t available around these parts.

The Civic VX delivers remarkable fuel economy. The original spec 165/70-13 tires are hard to find these days. Have you switched to a different wheel and tire size?

#11 Toby Bo on 02.16.13 at 6:54 pm

How many can say they paid $12,000 for their CRX HF? I am the original owner so I tell the curious that I am looking to get that money back. They claim depreciation of the car but I claim depreciation of the currency so we are even. A real HF will run at 2250 rpm at 70 mph and has a 2.5 mph bumper. Gas with 10% alcohol has reduced my mpg 3% so the higher claims are rubbish. I started twenty years ago with 48 mpg mixed and now get 46 mpg mixed.

A harsh ride is improved by replacing the front lower ball joints. The chassis leans to the left due to twisting over time. I installed a 13mm rear sway bar that helps on interchange ramps. Vinyl carpet runner in the doors works like the vapor barrier but also reduces noise. Self stick roofing sheets are the same thing as that expensive sound matting. Powder coating services will restore the crinkle finish on the cylinder head cover.

The valve lash has never been adjusted and never ticks in cold weather. The number of times I have redlined it I can count on my fingers. The number of times I have ground a gear I can count on hands and feet. NuCarPolish every year has kept the paint very nice but I do it less now with a car cover. I have 40F a/c with a R134a retrofit that needs 12oz recharge twice a year.I will trade it for a well preserved Airstream Safari.

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