We wish we could provide a simple answer to such a simple question, but the auto industry is often complicated.
But among cars with conventional manual transmissions — the ones that require the driver to operate a clutch pedal and shift gears — the Volkswagen Passat TDI diesel tops the charts with EPA ratings of 31/43/35 mpg city/highway/combined (calculated by the EPA as 55 percent city driving and 45 percent highway driving).
The Passat TDI has the highest highway estimate among conventional stick-shift cars, and only the 2013 Chevrolet Spark has a higher city estimate, coming in at 32 mpg — at least so far. The rankings could change once EPA fuel-economy estimates are announced for all 2013 models. The 2012 Honda CR-Z hybrid with manual transmission is rated at 31/37/34 mpg city/highway/combined.
Cars.com posts EPA estimates for individual models and their engines and transmissions in the Research section as they become available. In the meantime, more information is available from the federal government’s fuel economy site.
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