Choosing a model that can run farther on a tank of gas – or one that can avoid the pump altogether – can help save cash and the environment.
With national average gasoline prices continuing to vacillate between $3.00 and $4.00 over the course of a given year, fuel economy remains a primary concern among car buyers, with 14 percent citing it as their singular consideration according to the National Automobile Dealers Association in McLean, Va. Vehicles spanning the spectrum are getting an infusion of fuel frugality these days, with even big pickup trucks and sports cars offering more-efficient engines that are nonetheless able to satisfy buyers’ expectations.
To help shoppers make informed decisions is this regard, the federal Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., tracks and publishes standardized fuel economy ratings for all cars and light duty trucks sold in the U.S. each year. The agency recently released its lists of most – and least – fuel-efficient rides on the road for 2014 in a wide range of classes and sizes to meet most consumers’ needs.
“For American families, the financial and environmental bottom lines are high priorities when shopping for a new vehicle,” says administrator, Gina McCarthy. “This year’s guide is not just about how the latest models stack up against each other; it’s about providing people the best information possible to make smart decisions affecting their pocketbooks and the planet.”
That’s because in addition to projected city, highway and combined city/highway mpg ratings and annual fuel costs, the EPA’s citations include a 1-10-point rating for each model’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions, which are said to contribute to global warming.
Fuel economy ratings for all 2014 vehicles – as well as those from past model years for the benefit of used car shoppers – can be found at www.fueleconomy.gov, and we’re listing the top models in each of the EPA’s classes. These include both the segment-leading gas, diesel or hybrid gasoline/electric powered models, as well as plug-in electric vehicles, the latter of which are rated in terms of an electric equivalent (called “eMPG”) based on average electricity costs. We’re also including the rogue’s galley of this year’s worst gas-guzzlers, which tend to be among the year’s costliest high-performance sports and luxury cars.
Of course, as they say, “your mileage may vary.”
That’s because cars and trucks are tested under rigidly controlled circumstances in a laboratory (and not on the open road) using a standardized test that’s mandated by federal law. Each model is tested on what’s called a dynamometer, which is like a treadmill for cars, with the quantity of carbon in tailpipe emissions measured to calculate the amount of fuel burned. A professional driver runs the vehicle through multiple standardized driving schedules, one each to simulate city and highway motoring, one cycle at higher speeds, another with the air conditioning on and one more in city driving with lower outside temperatures.
A host of factors, including the load a car is carrying, trip length, traffic conditions, terrain, temperature and the weather all affect a vehicle’s mileage. Perhaps most importantly, a motorist’s individual driving style can skew these estimates greatly if he or she drives with a proverbial lead foot, with neck-snapping acceleration and heavy braking. As the Tortoise learned in his fabled sprint against the Hare, slow and steady wins the race here.
© CTW Features
Cars With the Best and Worst Fuel Economy
• Two-Seaters: Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (107 eMPG); Honda CR-Z (37 mpg).
• Minicompacts: Fiat 500e (116 eMPG); Scion iQ (37 mpg).
• Subcompacts: Chevrolet Spark EV (119 eMPG); Ford Fiesta SFE (37 mpg).
• Small Station Wagons: Honda Fit EV (118 eMPG); BMW 328d xDrive (35 mpg)
• Compacts: Ford Focus Electric (105 eMPG); Toyota Prius c (50 mpg).
• Midsize: Ford Fusion Energi PHV (58 eMPG); Toyota Prius (50 mpg).
• Midsize Station Wagons: Toyota Prius v (42 mpg).
• Large: Chevrolet Impala eAssist (29 mpg).
Worst Gas Guzzlers:
• Two Seaters: Bugatti Veyron (10 mpg).
• Minicompacts: Aston Martin DB9/Vanquish, Ferrari California (15 mpg).
• Subcompacts: Aston Martin Rapide S, Bentley Continental GTC/GT Speed, Maserati GranTurismo Convertible, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG (15 mpg).
• Compacts: Chevrolet Camaro w/6.2L V8; Mercedes-Benz CL600/CL65 AMG, Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe/Drophead Coupe (14 mpg).
• Small Station Wagons: Cadillac CTS w/6.2L V8 (14 mpg).
• Midsize: Bentley Mulsanne, Ferrari FF (13 mpg).
• Midsize Station Wagons: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG (17 mpg).
• Large: Rolls-Royce Phantom (14 mpg).
All ratings are for combined city/highway driving, with plug-in electric models expressed in terms of its electric equivalent economy (“eMPG’). Source: Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.