Fuel economy is on the minds of drivers haunted by the specter of $4 a gallon gasoline that has already become a reality in many states. Automakers are responding by creating vehicles designed for high fuel economy, but consumer reviewers caution that fuel economy is not the only factor to consider when buying a car.
Emonds.com compared the fuel efficiency of vehicles from 2008 and 2012 and revealed that across the spectrum – from hybrids and sedans to sports cars and SUVs, from low-cost cars to expensive luxury vehicles – the auto industry views fuel economy as a selling point.
On average, fuel efficiency increased 16.4 percent during those four years. That means that the average driver of a 2012 model vehicle will spend $400 less a year on gas than the driver of a 2008 vehicle.
The Audi A3 saw the most improvement. Its fuel economy leaped 38.5 percent, from 21 mpg to 29.1 mpg. The A3 also had the highest fuel efficiency of the top 10 most improved vehicles.
A crossover UV, the Chevrolet Equinox, came in second. It jumped 32 percent, from 19 mpg to 25.1 mpg. Kia claimed the number three slot with the Sorento. It went from getting 17 mpg to 22.2 mpg, a 30.4 percent increase.
Two luxury vehicle snagged spots in the top 10 list. At number five, the Mercedes-Benz SLK Class had an improvement of 28.3 percent, from 17.9 mph to 23 mpg, while the number eight Porsche Cayenne saw a 24.8 percent improvement, from 14.7 mpg to 18.3.
Rounding out Edmonds’ top 10 list for the biggest jumps in fuel economy from 2008 to 2012 were the:
- At Number 4 – Dodge Challenger, up 30.3 percent, from 15 mpg to 19.5 mpg
- At Number 6 – Ford Explorer, up 27 percent, from 15.4 mpg to 19.5 mpg
- At Number 7 – Hyundai Sonata, up 25.8 percent, from 22 mpg to 27.7 mpg
- At Number 9 – Buick LaCrosse, up 24.1 percent, from 20.9 mpg to 26 mpg
- At Number 10 – Volkswagen Passat, up 23.7 percent, from 21.8 mpg to 27 mpg
As gas prices rose from a national average of $1.69 a gallon in December 2008 to $3.27 in December 2011, consumers bought more fuel-saving, four-cylinder engine cars and fewer V8 and V6 vehicles, according to Edmonds.
Kelley Blue Book places fuel efficiency in context. It ranks the least expensive, new fuel-efficient vehicles taking into account how much an owner would spend on them over five years. That figure is based on depreciation, state taxes and fees, and costs for gas, insurance, maintenance, repairs and financing.
Only one hybrid, the Honda Insight, made the list, as did a single one of the most-improved fuel efficient vehicles: the Volkswagen Passat.
Edmonds encourages car buyers to think of fuel economy in terms of gallons per mile, instead of miles per gallon. The GPM measurement shows exactly how much fuel a vehicle consumes. That lets car buyers more accurately calculate how much money they would save by switching to a more fuel-efficient model. The EPA will require that auto dealers advertise the GPM of vehicles starting in 2013.
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