By on March 15, 2013

Fuel economy of vehicles sold in the U.S. is on the rise, recording the sharpest gains in almost four decades, an annual report by the EPA shows. Foreign automakers have the most efficient fleets.

The EPA report shows an average 16 percent gain in fuel efficiency for in the past five years, to 23.8 miles per gallon.  The EPA’s list is led by foreign carmakers, with Detroit sharing the bottom places with purveyors of thirsty performance cars.

EPA Fleet Fuel Economy 2012
Honda 26.4
VW 26.2
Mazda 25.9
Toyota 25.6
Subaru 25.2
Nissan 24.6
All 23.8
Ford 23.2
BMW 23.1
GM 21.4
Daimler 21.4
Chrysler-Fiat 20.6

TrueCar’s sales-weighted fleet fuel economy report paints a similar picture. Remember: Fuel efficient cars do no good if they sit in the showroom or in the catalog. They must be sold and replace fuel thirsty cars to make a difference.

TrueCar Sales-weighted  Fleet Fuel Economy
Average MPG Average Car MPG Average Truck MPG
Manufacturer Jan’13 Jan’12 YoY Jan’13 Jan’12 YoY Jan’13 Jan’12 YoY
Hyundai 26.8 26.8 0 28.4 28.5 -0.1 23.1 23.2 -0.1
Honda 25.9 25.4 0.5 29.6 28.9 0.6 22.4 22.4 0
Volkswagen 25.9 25.8 0.1 26.9 27.2 -0.2 21.9 21.7 0.2
Nissan 24.9 23.6 1.3 29.8 26.6 3.1 20.1 20 0.1
Toyota 24.6 24.6 -0.1 29.6 29.6 -0.1 19.2 19.4 -0.2
Industry 23.4 22.9 0.5 27.4 26.6 0.8 19.9 19.6 0.3
Ford 22.8 21.7 1.1 29.2 26.8 2.4 19.9 19.6 0.4
GM 21.3 21.2 0.1 25.3 24.9 0.3 19 18.9 0.1
Chrysler 20.7 19.5 1.2 23.9 22.5 1.4 18.9 18.2 0.8
Source: TrueCar TrueMPG

The EPA punished Hyundai’s MPG-shenanigans by not listing the Korean maker. TrueCar uses the restated data, with Hyundai still on top.

If you miss data broken out by segment, size, and other criteria, the EPA has a long list of data. TrueCar does likewise.

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42 Comments on “EPA Confirms: America’s Most Fuel-Efficient Cars Are Not American...”

  • avatar

    Do these stats include trucks and SUVs?

    • 0 avatar

      It appears that they do. Look at the second chart, the middle section titled Average Car MPG. Without trucks in the mix, the domestics do better, especially Ford. Also notice that gas-hogs Subaru, BMW, Daimler, and Mazda aren’t included in the second chart.

      TrueCar has a chart comparing manufacturers by vehicle size, when you compare apples to apples the domestics are competitive.

      • 0 avatar

        >>the domestics do better, especially Ford.

        We also know that Ford’s newest offerings’ EPA numbers don’t correspond to reality. Just like the Chevy Equinox – CR found it to be just about worst in class despite bestest EPA numbers.

        Again, thank you, Consumer Reports.

        • 0 avatar

          The fuel economy of hybrids and vehicles with turbocharged engines is more dependent on driving style than that of typical naturally aspirated gas engine vehicles.

          I’ve returned miles-per-gallon results in the mid 30s and mid 50s on the same route in C-Maxes just from changing how I accelerate and brake.

          The C-Max has a lot more power than the Prius-V, and responds better to spirited driving. If you take advantage of that, your fuel economy naturally drops, but if you drive it conservatively, it’s not difficult to meet or exceed the EPA ratings.

          The same holds true to the EcoBoost engine vehicles – the turbos really beg you to dip into boost to feel that rush of power, but the more you do the more your fuel economy drops. CR’s testing revealed pretty much all turbocharged engines resulted in lower-than-EPA real world mileage, but that was just their testing procedure – it’s not hard to meet or beat the EPA figures, you just have to drive with fuel economy being your primary goal instead of driving-fun.

          • 0 avatar

            The V6 Accord (and others) was faster and got better mpg than the Ecoboost 2.0 Fusion.

            The 4 Accord (and others) was faster and got better mileage than the 1.6 Ecoboost Fusion.

            The faster Toyota, Honda and Nissan all met or exceeded their EPA ests. The slower Fusion did measurably worse than its EPA’s and much worse than those other cars.

            Here are the results:

            The Ecoboosts were also “unrefined”.

            I do not believe the German turbos from BMW Audi and VW have the same problem as Ford’s. CR confirms that:

          • 0 avatar


            Please bear with an ignoramus here…
            I know zip about turbos, just assumed they’re too exotic, highly strung and a guaranteed weak spot for long term ownership.

            But can it be that a driver like me who never willingly exceeds 70 mph and who is obsessively gentle with his machinery might be an ideal prospect for a turbocharged engine?

            If so, that’s pleasingly ironic.

          • 0 avatar
            Kevin Jaeger

            Summicron – quite possibly you are the ideal candidate for a turbo.

            If you’re gentle with the throttle the turbo doesn’t really do anything – you’re just driving a car with a smaller, more fuel efficient engine. The boost is there if you want or need it, but if you drive gently the car is effectively running like a normally aspirated engine almost all of the time. And you should see the fuel economy to match.

          • 0 avatar


            Thanks… I never even considered them before but now I’m interested in at least learning more about them.

            It took me so many years of wrenching on atrocious beaters to finally get to pristine new cars that each one I’ve owned is like a shrine to me. The rush others get from “performance” I get from sedately rolling along in glass smooth bliss.

            I bet I’d be perfect for a turbo.

          • 0 avatar

            Uhh, the EPA forced BMW to lower its rating for the turbo-4 3 Series since it didn’t get the initial mileage.

            Anyway, the overall fleet fuel economy chart is pretty useless since some brands are more truck/SUV dependent than others.

          • 0 avatar

            If you assume the CR results are “correct” (whatever that means, since different driving styles can change mileage dramatically), then the Dart is quite impressive. 2.5 seconds quicker to 60 than the NA engine and 2 more mpg. The Cruze is also not bad — 0.7 seconds quicker to 60, and the same mpg. The BMW X3 isn’t doing badly either — same time (I don’t consider 0.1 seconds to be statistically significant for reasons that have been discussed on TTAC), same mpg.

    • 0 avatar

      so long as Trucks and full size SUVs are included in passenger car sales figures then… Yes!

  • avatar

    With a range of only +/-15% from industry averages to highest and lowest, I’d say they’re pretty tightly grouped. Every mfr there has a top contender for fuel economy.

    But nobody purchases a car based on the fuel efficiency of the mfr’s other cars; they only care about the one they’re paying for.

  • avatar

    Unsurprising. For useful information, I’ll check out the data broken down by segment.

    • 0 avatar

      Completely agree on both counts!

      These articles show up all the time here, it is trolling for a reaction that isn’t going to occur. Actually, if the Detroit Three were higher up or near the top, there would be a very surprised reaction.

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s another way:

      We all know efficiency drops with increased vehicle weight. Similarly, increased passenger/cargo volume comes with increased weight.
      Plot all cars available on a graph of mpg v. passenger volume (or whatever other ‘size’ metric you want).
      Determine the average curve through the data for each automaker and the overall industry.
      Automakers with lines above the average are better, those with lines below are worse.

      Information should not be sales-weighted.

  • avatar

    I thought the Camry was an American car and the Suburban was Mexican.

    • 0 avatar

      I read an article recently that predicted our imports from Mexico would top imports from China by 2018:

      Part of the reason is that Mexican wages were 5X Chinese wages in 2000, but are only about 1/3 higher now, because Chinese wages have risen so rapidly. That’s also why some people see more manufacturing for US consumption moving back to the US in the next 5 years or so.

  • avatar

    Still a bogus metric.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      Agreed completely. CAFE is an idiotic way to regulate the auto industry and any collection of statistics averaged this way conveys nothing meaningful at all.

      These statistics do not support the headline no matter how often they are repeated.

  • avatar

    Hang on now, North America’s most fuel efficient cars aren’t necessarily American, American companies just do a hell of a lot of a better job of marketing their inefficient stuff than everyone else does (and, yes, still need to work on properly marketing the more efficient stuff).

  • avatar

    Isn’t Chrysler a “foreign” automaker now? What is considered “American”? The line between foreign and domestic has been blurred for decades. These are global companies. The grouping of the “car” data is very tight. The headline is misleading, at best.

  • avatar

    Hopefully Ford will be punished for their deceitful marketing and dishonest claims about their fuel mileage.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry but the EPA did not confirm anything. Companies who either don’t offer a true full line of cars or who’s sales are hevily weighted to small cars look better than those that sell a full range of vehicles or do better selling larger vehicles. If you look by segment you see the real picture and the fact that the US brands do hold their own and are at or near the top. Per the true car link

    Small cars
    Toyota 34.1
    Nissan 33.4
    Ford 33.1
    Honda 31.4
    Chrysler 31.3

    Midsize cars

    Ford 30.9
    Volkswagen 29.7
    Honda 28.9
    Nissan 28.9
    Toyota 28.5

    Large cars
    Ford 22.9
    GM 22.5
    Chrysler 22.1
    Toyota 19.2

    Large truck
    Honda 17.5 (good luck hauling a sheet of plywood with a Ridgeline)
    Ford 17.4
    GM 17.1
    Chrysler 16.9
    Toyota 15.6
    Nissan 14.3

    So when you look at it that way it sure looks like Ford beats the imports 50% of the time if you dare call the Ridgeline a “Large truck” and if you throw it out as the Midsize truck that it is wins 75% of the time.

    • 0 avatar

      Not in reality. Ford’s Ecoboost engines get relatively poor mileage in actual driving. And they’re slower too.

      • 0 avatar

        If the article is debating EPA results per manufacture, then his argument is valid. If the EPA results mean anything in the real world is something completely different.

        But, when you look at the full line up of vehicles out there, imports typically do better in smaller vehicles, but do worse in larger vehicles.

  • avatar

    As far as manuals go, I wonder if reviewers are driving ecoboosts in a way that maximizes the ecoboost’s fuel economy. I recently purchased a Fusion with a manual, and it took me a month or two to bring my city driving from 28 to 31 mpgs. It can take a while to really learn an engine.

  • avatar

    I bet if you averaged horsepower for each of the manufactures that list would flip the other way.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Keep in mind that Fiat-Chrysler’s bestsellers are mainly V6 and V8-powered vehicles. That might’ve been offset by the Dart, but it’s largely been a flop. And those little Fiat 500’s don’t exactly get good fuel economy for what they are…

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    A couple of weeks ago there was a report that America’s most reliable brand are NOT American either, now this. Yet we read over and over again how respected auto journalist claim that the gap between foreign and domestic is so narrow that there is no advantage in buying an import, this is brain washing at its worst.

  • avatar

    Just curious. Logic tells me that a car in a laboratory doing a static MPG test at 60 MPH, or whatever speed they use, is going to get better mileage than the same car in the real world. Design aerodynamics,design weight savings(or not savings) wind, tire condition and road conditions will have a huge impact on a cars MPG. This is why you hear so many customers say a car did not do as well as advertised or better than advertised. It is true that some manufactures have done better than others in fuel savings engineering,but those outside influences can negate all their hard work.

    All those things affect resistance on the engine in the real world. In the laboratory, the only resistance the engine has is the bearings of the test machine and the bearings of the car.

    • 0 avatar

      The coastdown tests that Hyundai-Kia were so famously caught doing incorrectly, whether on purpose or not, are meant to simulate the effects of aerodynamics, weight, rolling resistance and whatnot.

      Of course, driver, weather and etcetera cannot be accurately replicated in the lab, but EPA tests have such a specific drive cycle that beating EPA numbers on the highway is often ridiculously easy for conscientious drivers.

      Instead, what EPA offers is a benchmark for comparison. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • 0 avatar

      The dyno is adjusted to mimic the inertia or the vehicle being tested. The aerodynamics on the other hand are calculated and applied to the raw dyno numbers.

      • 0 avatar

        The aerodynamics and rolling resistance numbers are inputted into the dyno, but the manufacturers are SUPPOSED to get the numbers through actual, physical testing. The EPA has specific guidelines for performing coastdown tests for vehicles. The results of these coastdown tests are then plugged into the dyno, which is adjusted until the simulated coastdown matches the actual one.

        While you can simulate aero numbers via wind-tunnel results, you’ve got to be very, very careful about getting caught using optimistic numbers. Otherwise you’ll end up like Hyundai…

  • avatar

    Chrysler has Jeep, so you have to give them a break. :)

  • avatar

    Honestly with all the trucks the “domestic” brands sell you would think there would be a wider gap between them and the “imports”.

  • avatar

    This is distorted comparison. None of the Japanese brands are ‘full line’ manufacturers in the US. GM and Ford have large commercial vehicle/truck lines, along with several large SUVs needed in the US, that the Japanese brands do not offer.

    This report would carry more weight if it broke out the passenger cars, from the trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      Why the EPA would lump all product lines together when comparing numbers is beyond ridiculous, it is absurd. It is like the nutty major league baseball home run king. They crown a guy king because he has hit more home runs than the previous king, and totally dismiss that the new king played in several more games than the previous record holder. And the new king almost always did not have more than the old king at the same number of games. Stupid.

      Until they separate all product lines when comparing the numbers,the EPA numbers will have as much credibility as that stupid MLB home run comparison.

      • 0 avatar

        “They crown a guy king because he has hit more home runs than the previous king, and totally dismiss that the new king played in several more games than the previous record holder. And the new king almost always did not have more than the old king at the same number of games. Stupid.”

        In reality, no one ever did that. That’s why we had the asterisk next to the results for years and years, and probably still will due to steroids.

  • avatar

    Bertel still trying to use the same flawed argument about MPG.

    Company A, that sells more larger vehicles that get worse gas mileage than company B who sells more smaller vehicles that get better gas mileage. That must have been difficult to figure out.

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