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Fuel Efficiency Can Be Deceiving

The federal government now has new mandates for the fuel efficiency of vehicles. By 2025 the average fuel economy will have to be 54.5 miles per gallon, an astonishing number compared to a 10 mile per gallon Cadillac in the 70’s. Currently there are still some pretty poor performers for fuel efficiency still being sold today. How can you avoid a gas-guzzler and/or save money on gas today?

When buying a vehicle, try not to lose your head and forget about fuel economy, looks can be deceiving.  Sports cars and large SUV’s aren’t the only vehicles that may have poor gas mileage. Of course a large V8 engine sports car can have poor gas mileage, but some are surprisingly efficient. A 2012 manual transmission can actually average 19 miles per gallon per the EPA, combined city and highway driving. A Ferrari can average 13 miles per gallon, almost a 50% difference in fuel efficiency; of course it’s a 12 cylinder Ferrari. The efficiency of the Corvette is not too far off from a six cylinder Nissan Altima at a combined 23 miles per gallon. Of course Ferrari’s, Bugatti’s, and Rolls Royce’s have poor fuel efficiency, with large 12-16 cylinder engines and prices over $200,000, buyers aren’t worried about fuel efficiency. A surprisingly non-efficient vehicle that ranks up there with those super cars is a Cadillac STS Wagon. The wagon fails at a combined MPG rating of 18. Concerning since it is not a sports car, nor an over the top super car, it’s a slightly more expensive car than the average station wagon, but it is still common among consumers, so the average buyer could be shocked and concerned by the poor fuel economy.

Even vehicles that people assume to be fuel efficient, being small and economically priced, may be deceiving. A Smart Fortwo, attains a combined 36 miles per gallon, efficient, but for a ultra compact three cylinder engine car, with little passenger space it could do better. This goes for the small, but not as small Fiat 500 Cabrio, or convertible, at a combined 29 miles per gallon it is less fuel efficient than a four door Mazda 3DI, which is rated at a combined 33 miles per gallon.

As far as common vehicles go, pick ups, SUV’s and various vans and mini-vans average the worst fuel economy. Ford F150’s only average 13 miles per gallon, like a Ferrari. A Chevrolet Suburban is even worse, at 12 miles per gallon. A Toyota Sienna Minivan is not too bad at 19 miles per gallon, but Honda Odyssey averages 22, about 15% better, but every gallon counts when it comes to saving money on gas.

The best of the best for fuel economy are the electrics and the hybrids. For hybrids the Toyota Prius still leads the pack at 50 miles per gallon, other manufacturers approach the 40 and mid 30 mile per gallon marks, but none are close to 50. Electric vehicles are king for fuel efficiency, but are still highly specialized, and charging stations are not common place. Nissan, Ford and Mitsubishi blow efficiency standards away with MPG numbers over the 100 miles per gallon mark.  Nissan Leaf hits 100, Ford Focus BEV hits 105, and the Mitsubishi I-MiEV astounds at 112.

Don’t be fooled by style and looks, one way or the other, the sports car could surprise you, and the economy car could disappoint you.

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