What is a Good MPG for New and Used Cars?

Whether you’re buying your very first car, or your tenth car; and whether you’re buying a new car or a used car; one of the most important factors to consider when making your choice is the car’s mileage.

Miles per gallon (MPG) is the number of miles a car can travel for each gallon of fuel you put in. A car with an mpg of 60.1, for example, will be able to travel for 60.1 miles for every gallon of fuel. That’s good going!

The better a car’s mileage, the lower the car’s running costs, and the less car tax you’ll pay. So if you want an economical car that won’t break the bank every time you need to top up your fuel, mileage is a good factor to focus on.

But car technology is evolving all the time. What might have been a “good” MPG 10 years ago might be extremely inefficient by today’s standards.

So in this post, we’ll take a quick look at what counts as a “good” MPG in both new cars and used cars.

What affects MPG?

A car’s MPG will depend on a number of things.

These include:

  • the size of the car
  • the size of the engine
  • the type of fuel used (diesel cars usually get better mileage than petrol)
  • the presence of fuel-saving technology like stop/start engines.

Certain cars are also available in variants that have been specifically fine-tuned for fuel efficiency.

To get a “good” MPG, go for a small city car with a small engine. A 1.0 litre engine won’t give you much power, but you’ll get excellent mileage. The Citroen C1 1.0, for example, generates 72hp but promises to return 79mpg.

Real World MPG & How You Use Your Car

It’s important to remember, though, that any MPG figure you see is going to be an estimate. Car manufacturers arrive at their MPG figures having tested their cars in ideal scenarios. In the “real world”, the MPG for any car is likely to be considerably lower for even the most efficient of models.

Another important thing to bear in mind is how you intend to use your car. A small city car might get you the best mileage, but the clue’s in the name: They’re designed for the city. They might not offer much comfort, power, or reliability if you plan on driving long distances on the motorway, or through the country.

What’s a Good MPG for a New Car?

You need to consider your needs, and consider your budget. But with all that being said, a good MPG figure to aim for is anything between 50 and 60MPG. This will ensure that your car is efficient and economical, which means low running costs and car tax rates. But as it’s not at the upper limit of what’s possible with modern MPGs, you’ll probably get a more versatile drive overall.

What’s a Good MPG for a Used Car?

If you’re buying a used car, the manufacturer’s quoted MPG will be even less reliable, so it’s vital that you understand as much as you can about the vehicle’s history.

Ask to see the car’s maintenance records. They’ll tell you whether any parts have been replaced, and how often the oil’s been changed. This will give you a clue as to the state of the car’s engine, which will have a huge impact on the car’s mileage. But even a car with a lot of miles on the clock will still return a good MPG so long as it’s been properly maintained.

If you’re buying a used car, and you want something that’s efficient, economical and with low running costs, then try not to get a car that’s more than a few years old. You might have to pay a bit more up front than you would have done for an older car, but in the long-run you’ll make huge savings on fuel and maintenance.

2014 is a good cut-off date. This will effectively guarantee that the car and the engine will still be in good condition, and the car might even have some of the same fuel-saving innovations that you’d find in a brand-new car. And as for the actual MPG, 40 is a good ballpark figure to aim for.

Need More Tips on Buying a New or Used Car?

We have plenty of guides that will help you to choose the car that’s right for you.

Here’s our guide to the best cars for new drivers. It’s a collection of cars that are small, safe, and easy to drive. And because they’re small and safe, good mileage is a given!

If you’re buying your very first car, here’s our guide to the sort of things you should look for when making your choice.

Finally, driving a safe and economical car can lead to lower car insurance premiums. For more tips on how to drive down the cost of your car insurance, check out our guide here.


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