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Buying a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

Fuel is one of the major costs of operating a vehicle.

Buying a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

When purchasing a new vehicle, there are a variety of factors to consider. While the up-front cost is important, so is the vehicle's second price tag, which is the cost of running that vehicle over the time you own it. One of the biggest costs associated with owning a vehicle is filling up the gas tank. Selecting a fuel-efficient vehicle will save you money and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.

Right-Sizing your Vehicle

Larger vehicles use more fuel because they are heavier and require larger engines to move. When it comes time to selecting a new vehicle, make sure you right-size your choice. This simply means choosing a vehicle that is appropriately sized to meet your needs. Buying a car, truck, SUV or van that is larger than you need is an unnecessary expense. When you're weighing your options, think about what you'll need the vehicle for on a regular basis.

Selecting a Fuel-Efficient Model

The Government of Canada maintains a Fuel Consumption Guide, which shows the fuel efficiency of every new passenger vehicle sold in the country. Once you know the type of vehicle you want to purchase, this guide is a useful tool for selecting the most fuel-efficient model available.

Additionally, each vehicle sold in Canada has an EnerGuide label, which is the official Government of Canada mark that tells you how efficient a vehicle is during city and highway driving. The EnerGuide label shows the fuel efficiency of the vehicle in different ways, including how many litres of fuel you would burn for every 100 km you drive and how much fuel the vehicle will use over 20,000 km.

Choosing Fuel-Efficient Features

There are a variety of features to consider that affect your fuel consumption:

  • Engine - The engine burns fuel to power the vehicle. Larger vehicles require larger engines and larger engines use more fuel. Engines are classified according to the number of cylinders they have and the litres of fuel they pump. For example, a V4 engine (which has four cylinders) often uses less fuel than a V6 or V8.
  • Transmission - Vehicles are capable of driving at a variety of speeds and the transmission determines how hard your engine has to work by switching gears (higher gears are used at higher speeds). There are two basic types of transmissions: manual and automatic. As the name implies, automatic transmissions change gears automatically, while manual transmissions require the driver to use a clutch to change gears. Vehicles with automatic transmissions are becoming more efficient, but manual transmissions still use less fuel.
  • Drivetrain - There are usually three basic options to choose from: two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive. In a two-wheel drive, only two wheels are moved by power from the engine. Vehicles with four-wheel drive can switch from powering two wheels to powering four wheels when conditions require, such as snow. All-wheel drive vehicles always supply power to all four wheels. While four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive have many benefits, it's worth knowing that they also require more fuel to run.

Learn More

plugging in electric car

Learn more about making your next purchase an electric or hybrid vehicle.

In this section

Buying an Efficient Vehicle
Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
Driving Efficiently