All You Need to Know About Fuel Economy

Fuel economy or efficiency has become one of our primary concerns in the past few years. The reasons for that are twofold. First of all, oil prices have gone up by a considerable margin although prospects show they won’t continue to do so; and second of all, there are the climate change, pollution, and negative role of fossil fuels.

fuel levels indicator and fuel economy inscription

One of the primary sources of air pollution is represented by the cars we drive. In the past hundred years, they have multiplied so much that the actual gases they expel are deteriorating the ozone layer in the atmosphere. Simple logic tells us that the more cars in use on the streets, the more harmful gases they expel. Therefore, since reducing the number of cars is not entirely possible, one of the best solutions is to use fuel efficiently.

The main organization that deals with this matter in the United States is the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency. The reason it’s such an important organization is the fact that it’s responsible for providing fuel economy data, which goes on the labels or stickers of all new cars and trucks. Apart from that, the data is also used by the Department of Energy to release the yearly Fuel Economy Guide. Therefore, the first thing you need to know when shopping for a new car or trying to be fuel efficient is that all the necessary information can be found on that sticker. It holds the miles-per-gallon estimates, which basically tell you how much your car consumes.

Miles-per-gallon is the American and British metric unit used while liters-per-kilometer is popular in Europe, Canada, India, Japan, South Korea and Latin America.

Fuel economy based on types of cars

In North-America, an average mid-sized car travels 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. An SUV travels 13 mpg in the city, and 16 on the highway. Pickup trucks depend on the type of engine they have, as follows: a four cylinder one can go up to 28 mpg, a full-size V8 with an extended cabin only goes up to 13 mpg in the city and 15 on the highway. As a rule, the higher the mpg goes, the better the car’s gas usage is.

cars in traffic with fuel levels on top of photo

As a comparison, European vehicles are, on average, more efficient fuel-wise than American ones, when it comes to both diesel and gasoline. However, this efficiency discrepancy that tends to lean towards the Europeans is also because most of their cars are diesel powered while, in America, they are not so popular, due to emission standards. Another reason is the fact that the US has laws forbidding the import of new built models, disregarding their fuel efficiency use if that means laying off workers in American factories.

Here are some examples of the most used cars and their fuel economy levels.

  • Ford – They have the 2012 Focus SE and the Fiesta SE, which can deliver up to 40 mpg hwy. Also, their Ford Fusion has a remarkable resale value that helps to maintain fuel costs at a minimum, because it benefitted from fuel-efficient engineering, making it one of the best. The F150 reaches 22mpg, which is what made people wonder about the EcoBoost Ford claimed with this one. The Ford Escape goes to 25 mpg. The 3.5 L, 6-cylinder 2000, 2001 and 2002 Ford Explorer go up to 20 mpg, while the F250 is super heavy duty with 27 mpg, the same as The Edge.
  • Honda – This brand, including the Civic, the CRV and the Accord, has actually made the Guinness World Records, holding the title for “Lowest fuel consumption” with a record of 100.31 mpg, in a 25-day drive across 24 European countries. However, they do have models that are not so high, like the Honda Pilot, with 20 mpg.
  • Toyota – Within their range, the Toyota Prius Hybrid has the best fuel efficiency, with 45 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway which has made it one of the most loved cars today. Toyota Camry, on the other hand, only goes as far as 21 mpg. The Rav4 and the Tacoma are quite low as well, with 24 mpg, the same as the Corolla, the Tundra and the Highlander.

photo of dark grey car

  • Mazda – although it sells neither hybrid, electric nor diesel cars, Mazda has been the most fuel-efficient car on EPA’s list in the US in 2014, averaging 28.8 mpg, with its CX-5 crossover SUV.
  • Jeep – The Jeep Compass, introduced in 2007, along with the Patriot, the 2009 Cherokee, the Liberty and the Wrangler from 2013, combine the efficiency of a cross-over SUV with the practicality of a compact car. In regards to fuel economy, these cars can go up to 26 mpg. However, their newer 2015 and 2016 models can even go up to 30 mpg.
  • Dodge – The 2016 Dodge Dart is a very fuel efficient compact car, which reaches 41 mpg. The Dodge Grand Caravan recycles energy to maximize the economy of its fuel and reaches 25 mpg on the highway, while the Charger is also good, at 30 mpg.
  • Ram Trucks – they are efficient as well, their 2010, 2011 and 2015 1500 models reaching 35 mpg on the highway, without having to give up any of their legendary capabilities.
  • Subaru – the fuel efficiency depends on the car model – the Forester AWD reaches an average of 25 mpg, the Impreza an average of 28 and the Subaru Outback goes up to 28 mpg.
  • Nissan – just like with Subaru, the Nissan cars’ efficiency varies depending on the model. The Nissan Pathfinder has an average of 26 mpg, the Nissan Quest – 22 mpg, the 2008 Nissan Titan goes only until 14 mpg and the Nissan Altima and Versa 39 mpg.
  • Chevrolet – while the older Chevy models, from back in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 only went as high as 21 mpg, the newer 2015 and 2016 models can go as much as 40 mpg. The Chevrolet Cruze goes to 38 mpg on the highway and the Eco to 42 mpg.
  • Kia – it stands proudly at the top of the list with its Forte Koup at 27 mpg, Kia Optima Hybrid at 27 mpg and the Kia Soul Electric at a whopping 105, an average for both city and highway.

Fuel economy tips and tricks

Besides from buying a convenient car as far as fuel use goes, it’s also helpful to know a few tips and tricks that can help you bring down the gas used by your vehicle and improve your lifestyle.

#1. Track the mileage in real-time – what you can do in order to track it and stay on top of how many miles you’ve gone through is to buy a calculator, which will make things very easy. It will not only keep track for you, but you can also compare your mileage from today with the one from last week, yesterday or even 20 minutes ago.

photo of car fuel level indicator

#2. Only brake when you have to – by doing this you will quickly realize your mpg will increase more than you ever thought it could.

#3. Use the right vehicle for the right job – this might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s good to not forget it. If you have the privilege to choose among different cars, use your SUV for outside the city and harsher terrains and a small, compact car for the town streets. However, using the right vehicle for the right job doesn’t have to be limited to cars. If it’s easier, and you can take some means of public transportation, do it. The same goes for your bicycle. Use it whenever it’s convenient, for health and environmental reasons.

#4. Organize your day – a perfect way of cutting back on gas is to get more things done all in the same day and with a good city route planned out. This means that you shouldn’t just go out to buy a coffee, but you should also do something else you need to do, in a place which might be close to the coffee shop, on the same day.

#5. Avoid rush hours as much as possible. This is a very important trick which you should remember. Also, think about the fact that rush hour doesn’t only mean everyday rush hour in the city, but also the huge traffic lines that form when people go on vacation to the seaside, for example. The solution is to run your errands at a different time than everybody else whenever you can and leave for your summer holiday a day early or late, to avoid the crowds.

The US Department of Energy has a website dedicated to fuel economy, called You can find information about your car, your mpg, EPA ratings and fuel saving technologies. The site also has fuel calculators, widgets, videos and tutorials, answers questions about cars and allows you to estimate from drivers just like you.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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