Gas mileage is very important for today’s cars. What with gas approaching $4.00 a gallon, it’s becoming a serious issue for all but the wealthy.
I hope that everyone understands that the EPA mileage rating you see on a car’s window sticker is something that will rarely be seen in the real world. There are some proposed rules changes that will improve the accuracy of what the sticker says and what you actually see.
But, as Jeremy Clarkson says, “It’s not what you drive, it’s how you drive.”
I used the Consumer Reports ratings of the observed gas mileage on various recent test vehicles. I think their work is a little closer to real world conditions. For comparison sake, we’ll look at these vehicles and some equivalents from fueleconomy.gov.
We’ll also compare some real world driving experience from your truly.
Now, first of all, because the Polo BlueMotion isn’t available in the US, the Toyota Prius is the most fuel efficient vehicle here. Yes, a pure gas (well diesel) guzzle gets better mileage than the vaunted Prius).
Fueleconomy.gov says the Prius gets 51mpg in the city and 48mpg on the highway. That’s not shabby. But what do you really get? Well, CR got 32 city and 55 highway. Wow, that’s a huge difference. I won’t go into why, but that’s real world and I guess if you obey the speed limit (or a little under), then you could get those numbers.
One important not, being a hybrid doesn’t really help on the highway, once the batteries are flat, then you’re on the engine 100%. Still, 55mpg is a respectable number.
Other hybrids are not so impressive. That’s where I want to put my real world experience in the mix.
Now, let’s look at the Ford Fusion Hybrid. One reason is that I almost bought one. The second reason is that the car I did by, gets equivalent mileage. The EPA estimates 41mpg in city and 36mpg on the highway. CR got 25 in the city and 40 on the highway.
That’s really very interesting, because my Subaru WRX with a turbocharged 2.5 liter engine gets the exact same real world city mpg. Actually, with a little effort I can get up to 28mpg. I’ve gotten 43, but that was right after I filled and I coasted down a looooong hill. But I can easily get 25mpg on a complete tank of gas. I usually play a little on the weekends, but during the week, 28 is easily doable.
Of course, my car can trade some of that economy for power and blow the doors off the Fusion too.
OTOH, my car really is built for performance and it shows on the highway. It’s got a very short top gear, which improves performance, but limits fuel economy. I have gotten 33.3 mpg on a long highway run before (65mph, for about 3 hours). Normally, I get between 25mpg and 28mpg (70-75 mph). Once you get up to 80mph, the fuel economy drops to around 23-24mpg.
In pure city driving (which is what I do in my commute), my turbo-charged performance car is tied for the 9th most fuel efficient vehicle tested by Consumer Reports. (With one Caveat. The Altima Hybrid, gets 27 city, but only 36 highway and I could nearly match those numbers. Nearly.)
So remember, if you can’t afford a hybrid or a pure electric, then drive efficiently. You’d be surprised at how much more mileage you can get from your own car with careful driving.