The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first developed fuel economy tests in 1972 using driving patterns that simulated rush hour traffic in Los Angeles. Since then, fuel economy for cars in the United States has risen steadily from around thirteen miles per gallon to about thirty to thirty-five miles per gallon. These numbers are expected to increase further because the EPA has committed to raising the fuel economy of the average vehicle to fifty-four miles per gallon by the year 2025. For now, however, here are the five most and five least fuel efficient car manufacturers on the market according to the EPA.
Mazda cars represent the most economical cars available, achieving an average of 29.2 miles per gallon. This car make provides a wide range of vehicles suited for different purposes and has carved out a piece of the lucrative American market. The most popular models include the Mazda3, CX-5, and Mazda6, all of which are reasonably priced between $19,300 and $24,000 USD. Mazda is even developing additional ways to save fuel, including cutting weight from their vehicles and reducing friction from tires, brakes, and suspensions. Throughout its history, Mazda has received many automotive industry awards and created several vehicles that remain the best in their class. It also has an eye firmly on the future, recently signing a deal with Toyota that will allow it to explore their battery and hybrid technology for use in vehicles.
Honda/Acura is just behind Mazda in fuel economy, with figures of 28.9 miles per gallon, on average. Honda/Acura owes its success to the high fuel economy of its vehicles, especially during the oil crisis of the 1970s. During this time, Honda had vehicles that were compact, practical, and most importantly, highly fuel efficient. As a result, many American consumers fell in love with the brand. Honda/Acura was built on the need for reliable and affordable vehicles and to this day, the company continues the tradition with its Accord, Civic, Odyssey, and Pilot. The brand will always be known for reliability as long as staples of the Honda range, such as the Civic and Accord, continue to impress buyers and reviewers.
One of the most popular Japanese brands in North America, Subaru has an average fuel economy of 28.4 miles per gallon, which allows it to rank as the third most fuel efficient brand. The range of Subaru vehicles includes hatchbacks, station wagons, SUVs, and sedans. The Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback have become popular vehicles among families and weekend adventurers. Subaru vehicles also function well as daily drivers and have reasonable fuel economy for city driving. Their fuel economy is particularly impressive given that they are all-wheel-drive vehicles, which increases their weight. Although Subaru is rated among the most efficient car manufacturers, its performance models, such as the WRX and WRX STI, consume a lot more gas than a standard model does.
Nissan is the fourth most efficient car brand, with fuel economy figures of 28.3 miles per gallon, on average. This places it just barely below Subaru. Nissan and Subaru both use continuously variable transmissions (CVT) in their cars to increase the efficiency of gear changes. The CVT transmission also increases fuel economy because it places less stress on the engine and fuel system. Popular models recently produced by Nissan include the Juke, Sentra, Versa, and Rogue. Nissan vehicles typically have mid-range prices, making them accessible to a large portion of the North American population.
The South-Korean-based manufacturer boasts an average fuel economy of 27.8 miles per gallon. Rounding out the top five most fuel efficient car brands, it beats out sibling manufacturer KIA. Hyundai has been selling vehicles in the United States since 1986 but has only recently developed cars that are widely accepted by consumers. Hyundai is known for its reliability and is famous for its ten-year or 100,000-kilometre warranty on the engines of new vehicles. The most popular models in North America include the Santa Fe Sport, Sonata, and Elantra, which are all considered mid-range vehicles. Since 2010, Hyundai has sold 500,000 vehicles in the United States alone. It is easy to see why these reliable, efficient vehicles have become so popular.
Car and Driver
Fiat Chrysler is the least efficient vehicle manufacturer on the market. It includes the Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram brands. Top-selling Chrysler models include the Pacifica, 300C, and Town and Country. Many Dodge and Ram have large, fuel-guzzling engines that are necessary for the vehicles to do their intended jobs, which limits Fiat Chrysler's overall fuel economy. One vehicle under this banner that has better fuel economy than the rest is the fun Fiat 500, which boasts an impressive city driving fuel economy of 121 miles per gallon. The average fuel economy of Fiat Chrysler vehicles is 21.8 miles per gallon and has improved considerably over time. Although they are not the most fuel efficient vehicles on the market, they have a reputation of being fun to drive.
General Motors includes the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands and is ranked as the second least efficient car manufacturer. All four of these companies are known for producing large work trucks and family vehicles, which limits GM's overall fuel economy. In 2016, GM compensated customers who purchased vehicles with misleading fuel economy figures. The vehicles affected by this announcement were the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadias, some of which were up to two miles off in their initial economy figures. Some analysts predicted this problem could affect up to two million vehicles. However, not all of GM's vehicles have low fuel efficiency. The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu offers 28 miles per gallon during city driving, which could be a sign that fuel economy is improving for the American manufacturer.
Ford has been an institution in American culture since shortly after its 1903 launch and is credited with bringing transport to the masses. Today, it includes Lincoln as a luxury brand under its banner. Ford/ Lincoln vehicles have an average fuel efficiency of 23 miles per gallon, which is slightly better than that of GM cars. Ford and Lincoln use turbocharging in their engines more frequently than other manufacturers do. This allows their engines to perform at higher revolutions but also requires the vehicles to use more fuel. Ford and Lincoln have both created a range of eco-friendly vehicles, such as the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Ford Fusion, and Ford Focus. However, their popular range of larger vehicles and SUVs, such as the Ford F150, Ford Explorer, Lincoln Navigator, and Lincoln MKT, are the reason these car brands are on this list.
This manufacturer is known for large, luxury vehicles and for performance and racing cars. Mercedes-Benz remains a popular brand in North America due to build quality, design, and service from the manufacturer itself. Mercedes SUVs have become particularly popular in the last decade, which may have contributed to their place on this list. That said, fuel economy has never been a selling point of Mercedes vehicles because they are often marketed to higher-income consumers. Mercedes-Benz has an average fuel economy of 23.5 miles per gallon, which is almost three miles behind its main rival, BMW. The brand is slowly improving its fuel economy to compete with BMW and other luxury car manufacturers.
Toyota's range of vehicles is diverse, ranging from hatchbacks, such as the Corolla hatchback, to work trucks, such as the Tacoma or Tundra. Toyota's reliability is well known in the automotive industry, and its range of trucks have proven popular as work vehicles. Unfortunately, a bigger vehicle means lower fuel economy, and Toyota has been making more large vehicles recently. Toyota has recorded fuel economy figures of 25.2 miles per gallon, on average. Although this value is not terrible, it is enough to make Toyota one of the five least efficient car manufacturers. That said, the Toyota Camry and Corolla are reasonably fuel efficient, mid-range vehicles that are popular and practical.