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What is the single most economical car to drive on the roads today? – Arun Parkash in Toronto

A concise answer is all but impossible. Considerations include purchase price, depreciation, maintenance, insurance and fuel economy. The ideal vehicle would be a used car that had been heavily depreciated, got great fuel economy and required little to no maintenance.

Even if you were referring to new vehicles and operating costs only, the vehicle with the best fuel economy numbers – might cost more to insure or maintain than one with slightly more consumption. In general, diesels, electric cars, hybrids and the least expensive models in a manufacturer's lineup fit the criteria.

Volkswagen

Diesels

These might be the best bet, despite the higher cost of fuel. The Volkswagen Golf TDi is the leader here with a Natural Resources Canada combined (city/highway) fuel economy rating of 6.6 litres/100 km and a terrific resale value. Pricing starts at $23,095.

Kia Soul EV (Kia)

Electric cars

These use no gasoline, but their short range limits where and when they can be driven, and they generally cost more, so it takes a lot of kilometres to recover those extra dollars. The $26,990 Smart EV wins here but if you need more than two seats, consider the Ford Focus EV, Kia Soul EV or Nissan Leaf.

Toyota

Hybrids

They shine in urban driving, but like diesels, cost more initially. The thriftiest (4.7 combined) and least expensive hybrid is the $21,066 Toyota Prius c.

Hyundai Accent (Hyundai)

Bargain basement

That leaves the inexpensive models at the bottom rung of the price ladder – like the $9,995 Nissan Micra or $13,599 Hyundai Accent. They use more fuel at 7.7 and 7.8 litres/100 km combined. But that extra $10,000-plus buys a lot of gas.

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