Some automakers have cars that get a stupendous mileage, but they are priced or built so that nobody wants them. We won’t name names, draw your own conclusions. A much better metric than the mileage of a car is the mileage of all cars you sell. The combined mileage of all cars sold by a manufacturer or brand used to be a top secret document. Manufacturers with stellar averages sometimes leaked theirs. But what good are these statistics if manufacturers with mediocre averages hide their data? Thankfully, last year TrueCar started tracking the MPG averages of cars sold in the U.S. And it is coming to surprising results.
Not surprisingly, the most fuel efficient cars are sold by smart and MINI. Duh, all they have are small cars.
Once the offerings get a bit more diverse, Hyundai emerges as a clear winner with an average MPG of 27.8 in February 2012. Hyundai is closely followed by Volkswagen with 27.4 MPG. JLR can boast that it affords the luxury of absolutely atrocious mileage, a label Jaguar and Land Rover share with truck-heavy Ram.
With one narrow exception, Detroit cars are below average when it comes to combined mileage. A Volt doesn’t do anything to the environment if people don’t buy it. The only Detroit brand above average is Buick. The German and Chinese influenced brand is a tenth of a mile better than run-of-the-mill.
TrueCar TrueMPG By Brand, February 2011
The YoY column says what manufacturers actually do about mileage. It compares the combined MPG of cars sold in February 2012 with that of cars sold in February 2012.
The star of the MPG improvement category clearly is Ford. Within one year, Ford delivered 4 miles per gallon more across all Fords sold. If Ford keeps up this performance, it will soon be found in the hero category. The company not rescued by the government has the best improvement and the best overall MPG ranking of all Detroit makers.
Top ranking Hyundai and Volkswagen improved their MPG by 1.9 and 1.7 miles respectively. Buick surprisingly improved a below-average 20.3 MPG last year by a class-leading 2.1 miles. Ford and Buick protected Detroit’s virtue: The mileage may still be sub-par. But at least, something is being done to improve it.