Seven high-mileage cars that aren’t hybrids (PHOTOS)

Can’t afford a hybrid? Here are seven high-mileage alternatives.

Gas prices are going up and probably won’t collapse any time soon. But hybrid and electric vehicles remain expensive, niche products. The good news: car engineers have been busy figuring out ways to let basic, entry-level vehicles go farther on a gallon of gas. A lighter body and a less powerful engine can get any car better mileage, not to mention aerodynamic designs and diesel fueling. Here’s a look at some new cars that run on just gas, but not too much.

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2013 Dodge Dart

EPA highway mileage: 39 miles per gallon

Base price: $15,995

Target demographic: Young urbanites who want to own an American car

V-6? V-8? A Hemi? Try a relatively miniscule—for America—1.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine. The original Dodge Dart was a humongous boxy sedan that was discontinued in the U.S. in 1976. Its spry descendant only shares its name and borrows the punchy, fuel-efficient engine from the Fiat 500. The new Dart is a perfect encapsulation of what has happened to the Dodge and Chrysler brands since their parent company, Chrysler, was taken over by Fiat in 2009: putting European guts into a new exterior and stamping an iconic American logo on it.

Adam Berry, DAPD / AP Photos

2013 Audi A3 TDI Diesel

EPA highway mileage: 42 miles per gallon

Base price: $31,145

Target demographic: Suburban moms who want to save the environment, but still have to lug around a lot of sports equipment

German brands have long led the way in producing stylish, diesel-powered vehicles that don’t sound like dying elephants when you turn the key. And thanks to loosened regulations, this new generation of diesels is starting to fill up the highways. The Audi A3 TDI, a hatchback that shares many features with its corporate cousin the Volkswagen Golf, is not only what Car and Driver calls “an efficiency pro”—it also has the grippiness that comes with being all-wheel drive.

Sebastien Fevel, AFP / Getty Images

2012 Smart Fortwo

EPA highway mileage: 38 miles per gallon

Base price: $12,490

Target demographic: Euro-friendly city dwellers with small legs who live where street parking is as hard to find as families with children.

Ah, the Smart car. Long a curiosity for Americans only witnessed on European vacations, this zippy, ultra-compact has been gradually making its way onto American shores. If there were ever a car that showed that going small means using less gas, it’s this one—its one-liter engine puts out a mere 70 horsepower.

Courtesy of Volkswagon

2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI

EPA highway mileage: 42 miles per gallon

Base price: $24,235

Target demographic: People who are a few promotions away from driving an Audi.

The low-cost relative of the Audi A3, the Volkswagen Golf TDI comes standard with a mere two doors and six speeds on its manual transmission. One or another Gold has been rolled out by the populist German manufacturer since the 1970s and has been a Volkswagen mainstay and bestseller since the 1990s.

RRNewsFoto / Chrysler Group LLC / Getty Images

Fiat 500

EPA highway mileage: 38 miles per gallon

Base Price: $15,500

Target demographic: Young urbanites who very much want to own an Italian car

Like many of its low-cost, high-mileage competitors, this Italian hatchback squeezes miles out of those precious gallons by going small: the two-door subcompact’s 4-cylinder engine is a spry 1.4 liters and puts out just over 101 horsepower. The first 500 was produced more than 50 years ago; this newest generation rolled off the assembly line in 2007.

Scott Dukes / Courtesy of Toyota

2013 Toyota Yaris

EPA highway mileage: 38 miles per gallon

Base price: $14,115

Target demographic: The young and the cheap

Like its competitors, the Yaris screams “small.”  From its 4-cylinder, 1.5-liter, just-over-100-horsepower engine, to its two-door, rounded-off subcompact body, the only thing big about the Yaris it its 38mpg highway mileage.

Jock Fistick, Bloomberg / Getty Images

2013 Ford Fiesta

EPA highway mileage: 39 miles per gallon.

Base price: $13,200

Target Demographic: The same people who would have bought a Yaris or a Fortwo, but have a small child or two.

Sedan or hatchback, four doors or five, the Ford Fiesta comes with more options and bit more oomph than its high-mileage, low-size competitors. The 1.6-liter engine gives you 120 horsepower, and it claims to be able to sit five, although Ford never specifies just how big—or small—those five are supposed to be.