1989-1999 30MPG+ List of cars?

Does anyone know of great gas mileage cars that were made between 1989 and 1999. I am trying to find a car for $1000 that will save me gas money until I can get a hybrid car later on.

The ones I have been looking at so far are:

Ford Festiva

Suziki Swift

Geo Metro

Chevy Sprint

Honda Civic

Any other cars that get 30mpg + ??

Gasoline costs are about 25% of total car operating costs. You have to look at the total cost of operating any one vehicle. The age of cars you mention makes them all subject to frequent and somtimes expensive repairs. A $1000 car may cost $1500 in the fist year to get it running properly and perfom normal repairs.

If you want minimal operating costs, I would look at a 5 year old Hyundai Accent, for instance with LOW MILEAGE. It will actually get 30+ mpg and give you more useful life. Such a car is normally put up for sale by retired persons who are downsizing and moving into an apartment.

The cheapest car I ever bought in the last 20 years was a low mileage (20,000 miles) Dodge Colt for $1700, which performed well, but still needed some ongoing repairs.

Ahh yes I love the Dodge Colt, that was a nice zoom zoom go cart, I owned one in Cocoa Beach Florida for $700 and it was a 1986 , I got 40 mpg avg and I only had to do a basic tune up and oil change and some brake work when i got it.

Colt is on my list too but they are hard to find.

I will seek the Hyundai Accent too

The absolute best bang for the buck…is the Chevy Prism with the Corolla 1.8…my last one (2002) with a manual was easily the most economical car I have ever owned in manual transmission form…my first recommendation for a high mileage car that’s as cheap as, and rides better than, any of the cars you have listed (except Civic handling/ride).
It was so good it used to make gas as you drove…beat that for mileage you other mpg braggers.
That’s “gas” not gasoline…

you mean the chevy Prizm?

well I cannot find any of those for sale in the $1000 range

For $1000 it will be critical to find a reliable car, rather than one with the absolute maximum mileage, so make use of your contacts with friends and family to see if they know of one.

Hmm how about this car, they say its ugly but works


Its a Toyota 1994 Corolla Automatic

The Prism is mechanically a Corolla…ugly needs to be inspectable as well which it states. It’s better looking than my son’s old Nova/Prism with 250 K miles. Have if checked, even if it means more $$$ invested.

Frankly, with that budget you’re kind of in a beggars can’t be choosers situation. Like Docnick was saying, your gas usage isn’t a huge portion of your cost of ownership and the imported subcompacts (even ones masquerading as domestics like the sprint) are actually fairly expensive to run as the parts are expensive and they are generally higher maintenance than typical cars. And $1000 is not going to buy you a very nice one.

What I’d suggest is that you’d be better off broadening your search to include things like domestic compacts and midsize cars such as Chevy Cavaliers and Ford Tauruses. I would spend a lot of time looking for an unusually well maintained example of really anything that’s in your price range-- I’d even go a little bit older, maybe back to 87 (nothing with a carburetor, though!). When you’re looking at something this old, how the individual car has been treated is far more important than what the particular model is.


If you find any vehicle of any year in decent shape that gets over 30mpg for under $1000 you’d be a fool to pass it up. Usually these deals only come through family members. Have you put the word out through all your relatives?

You may want to look at the early 90s Camry 4-cylinders and the VW Passat diesel.

I agree that for $1000 you’re just looking for the best car you can find, regardless of mileage or make.

I’ve only read about the Civc VX (ca. 1992-1995) and never driven one, but some years the manual 5spds were EPA-rated 50+ mpg. I rarely see one for sale, though. Apparently the people who could stand the road noise otherwise love that car and usually keep them forever. I bought a descendant of that car, a 2001 Civic HX (EPA-rated 39/44). It cost more than $1K, but I’ve everaged 42 mpg for the years I’ve driven it. $4/gal gas wasn’t so bad for me.

The HX trimline was discontinued in 2006, I suspect because it competed directly with the Civic hybrid re: mileage numbers/initial cost.