Fuel efficiency has increased dramatically in the last decade, or at least that's what we've been told. So, it might come as a surprise to find out that six of the Top Ten Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA)-rated Fuel Sippers from 1984 to present were built prior to 2000. This info comes straight from the EPA website, the authoritative source on this fuel efficiency stuff.
While some current vehicles such as the 2010 Toyota Prius, 2010 Honda Insight and the 2006-2010 Honda Civic Hybrid garnered a spot on the top ten list, it's really older lightweight models like the 1986 Chevy Sprint ER or 1990-1994 Geo Metro XFI that make it obvious efficiency hasn't come as far as we'd like to think.
Overall, Honda holds top honors for automakers with five models present on the list, while Toyota's Prius made its mark twice. All of the vehicles on the list run with either 3- or 4-cylinder engines and five out of the top ten rely on hybrid motivation. The overall winner, the 2000 Honda Insight (above), scores a combined rating of 53 miles per gallon, a number that exceeds even the modern-day Prius by three mpg.
In many cases, we've been mistakenly led to believe that buying a new car equates to increased efficiency, but this list clearly shows that many of the relics from days gone by can easily hold their own with the most efficient vehicles made today. Therefore, newer is not always better!