It used to be so simple to tell which cars were coupes and which weren't. And not just because the word "Coupe" was emblazoned on your vinyl roof pillars in metallic script.
Generally, if it was a little sleeker than the average car, had only two doors and a proper trunk, you had yourself a coupe.
Now it's much more complicated, with everything from small hatchbacks to prestige four-door sedans given the moniker. Luckily, coupes are also a bit more fuel-efficient than they used to be.
We've selected the five most efficient "coupes" on the market--based on our own simple criteria. If it's relatively compact, looks sportier than your average hatchback or sedan and has fewer than average doors to its name, it's a coupe. Got that? Good.
2013 Honda CR-Z
36 mpg city, 39 highway, 37 combined
The first of our hatch-cum-coupes, the CR-Z is about as small as coupes get. It's also about as frugal as they get these days, with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and mild hybrid drivetrain combining for around 130 horsepower and 37 mpg combined.
That's with the CVT automatic, of course--move to the six-speed manual and you'll have a lot more fun, but economy does drop by 3 mpg combined. If it's style you want though, any CR-Z will do--its striking looks are possibly aided by just how few you see on the roads.
2013 MINI Cooper Coupe
29 mpg city, 37 highway, 32 combined
Ah, now MINI's offering even has "Coupe" in the name. And it does have a proper trunk, and a sloping roofline. One that, apparently, is designed to look like a baseball cap worn backwards. Read into that what you will.
Powering the MINI Baseball Coupe is a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine. Power is just shy of the CR-Z, as is economy--though a few mpg shy of 40 on the highway isn't too bad. Like the CR-Z, it's also a head-turner, while it seats equally few people.
2013 Honda Civic Coupe
28 mpg city, 39 highway, 32 combined
Huzzah! An actual coupe. The Civic seems to have been around for as long as the term itself, and it's no longer the ball of fun it once was, but fuel efficiency is still a large part of its repertoire. It matches the smaller CR-Z on highway mileage, but falls a little short in the city, hence its lower combined rating.
Opting for the manual transmission does reduce that by a touch--36 highway and 31 combined, city mileage remaining the same--but any hypermiler worth their salt will claw that back with fancy footwork and skilled shifting. With 140 horsepower it's also one of the more powerful cars here, though power is a relative term in this company.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe
28 mpg city, 38 highway, 32 combined
Like the Civic, the Elantra Coupe is an actual, bona-fide coupe. It's also far more stylish than Honda's offering, as is becoming the norm for Korean automakers these days. Even better (for dyed in the wool driving enthusiasts at least), the most efficient Elantra comes standard with a stick-shift.
With a 148-horsepower 1.8-liter under the hood, it also promises the most punch here, while long warranties and plenty of equipment should make it easy to live with on a daily basis.
2013 Hyundai Veloster
28 mpg city, 37 highway, 31 combined
Two Hondas and two Hyundais? That's just the way the market is these days. No longer are the days when Ford, GM, Toyota and more all offered inexpensive, light-on-gas coupes. At least the Veloster makes an effort, with its unusual (others may say "stupid") asymmetric door design and squat bulldog stance.
It makes a reasonable effort on gas mileage too. Equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and the standard 1.6-liter, 138-hp engine, it should do 31 mpg combined. You might even match its 28 mpg city and 37 highway ratings--only a little behind the larger but sleeker Elantra.
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