By on August 16, 2013

Low_Fuel_Graphic_on_the_FCD

The revised fuel economy ratings for the Ford C-Max aren’t the first time that an auto maker has been forced to backtrack on fuel economy claims – nor will it be the last unless meaningful reform is undertaken to ensure that fuel economy figures more accurately reflect the way motorists drive their cars in the real world.

The discrepancies between the EPA’s fuel economy figures and what consumers can expect stem from a number of issues. For starters, manufacturers are allowed to self-report their findings, with the EPA only auditing about 10 to 15 percent of the vehicles on sale in any given year. There are all kinds of tricks that auto makers can use as well. In the case of the C-Max, Ford used data from its Fusion Hybrid to determine the C-Max’s fuel economy, which lead to inflated ratings. While this may seem nonsensical to the outside observer, this is allowed under EPA guidelines, as the auto makers are only required to submit data for the volume model of any group of nameplates that use the same powertrain – even if they bear little to no relation to one another, as was the case here.

EPA test procedures also do not permit the use of ethanol. Across the country but particularly in emissions-conscious states, many pumps dispense gasoline with up to ten or even twenty percent alcohol, which significantly reduces mileage. The driving conditions used bear little resemblance to anything encountered in the real world. Tests are conducted on a dynamometer rather than on a real road, and 48.3 mph is considered “free-flowing traffic” on a freeway while city driving cycles use a barely-crawling speed of just 21.2 mph. Despite being utterly detached from reality, there is a good reason why the EPA fuel economy tests are designed this way. They aren’t meant to really test fuel consumption.

An article by Consumer Reports quotes one expert as stating that the tests

“…were originally designed to test emissions, not fuel economy.  They wanted to test a variety of speeds and accelerations.”

CR’s own fuel economy tests revealed significant discrepancies between the EPA numbers and their own road test cycles, with the biggest culprits being small turbocharged 4-cylinder engines. These tend to do well on EPA tests, since the low speeds don’t require much boost from the turbocharger. By contrast, real world driving does require the turbo to work harder when driven at speeds above 21.2mph, which is how a car like the Lincoln MKZ, with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, can return 16 mpg in the real world despite being rated for 22 mpg by the EPA.

With gas prices edging higher and fuel consumption becoming a priority among car shoppers, fuel economy tests have become increasingly importance for shoppers. Consumers compare “em-pee-gee” figures like they would have once looked at 0-60 mph times or crash test safety ratings, and rely on the EPA numbers to make purchasing decisions. Automotive marketing types know this, it’s not unreasonable to assume that powertrain calibration has sometimes been designed specifically with the fuel economy testing procedures in mind. Being able to hit a “magic number” like 40 mpg highway is a marketing coup. But being exposed as unable to hit that number in real life is a tenfold embarrassment, as Ford and Hyundai both know.

The current regimen of fuel economy tests have clearly outlived their usefulness.If the EPA test really is designed to measure emissions rather than fuel consumption, then that’s a strong indication of how relevant their guidelines really are. The next step is, what should be done to bring them back to relevance? Can the EPA test process be reformed? Should there be an end to manufacturer reported figures? Or is it worth ignoring EPA figures from now on in favor of someone like Consumer Reports or even a self-reporting site like Fuelly?

 

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126 Comments on “Editorial: Time For Fuel Economy Reform...”


  • avatar
    jz78817

    it’s “simple,” the fuel economy test procedure needs to be completely re-thought. with more and more manufacturers going to downsized+boosted or alternate/two-mode powertrains, the delta between the sticker and real world will only get worse.

    • 0 avatar
      mklrivpwner

      You don’t need to rethink the whole thing. But it definately needs to be reapplied.
      OK, keep the dyno. Less space, more cars, more tests, controlled and comparable results. But forget the “one speed is as good as any” idea.
      We have tredmills that mimic running in the streets of San Diego. We have exer-cycles that mimic riding the Tour de France. We can find some half-wit that can program a dyno test that mimics a “typical” real world drive. Include mountain highways, open freeways, stop-and-go traffic, and suburban stoplights.
      Done.

  • avatar

    IMHO if you want something consistent and for people to know exactly what they’d get, why not have a long flat loop and drive the car at various gears at various speeds until tank empty ?

    Test 10mph, 20mph, 30mph, 50mph, 60mph, 70mph, 80mph at each gear (that can sustain that speed) and put a small matrix on the window sticker?

    Then select, perhaps 20mph or 30mph for city, and 60 or 70mph for highway and average those two and that is the “mixed” rating.

    I’d find something like that quite useful.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      That wouldn’t be very useful. The majority of fuel use in a city is taken up by acceleration. In your instance a small turbocharged car with 200 hp will look vastly better at steady state “city speeds” of 20 to 30 mph, than say a NA engine with the same 200 hp.

      In reality, the NA engine will likely be more fuel efficient during real city driving as turbocharged cars tens to run richer while loaded. Not to mention they tend to put out more power (i.e. more fuel) at lower rpm. Everyone with a turbocharged car will attest to the gas sucking abilities while under load.

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      I’d like to see 20, 40, 60 mph in addition to the old school cycles and I’d also like to see a “fast food drive through cycle” Something like stop and go traffic whether you think of that as a highway traffic jam or just the line at McDonalds.

    • 0 avatar
      mklrivpwner

      Problem with actually driving the cars is that results will depend on the weather and the tester. And even the tester will have variance depending on his mood, energy, hunger, and time of day.
      Keep the cars on a dyno, run the cars’ throtles through a programmed run and the worst you have to figure for “human error” is shift timing in a manual.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    I agree that a better fuel economy measure needs to be created. The EPA methods had changed over the years, too. This makes it hard to compare numbers EPA fuel economy numbers from 15 years ago.

    I can normally better EPA numbers by a decent amount. My VW TDIs would return me over 10% better fuel economy than EPA ratings and my Wrangler can be up to 20% over EPA.

  • avatar

    It seems to me that putting a big advertising emphasis on a big number that a company knows cannot be reached by many drivers in real world driving is a recipe for a lot of unhappy customers, as Ford and Hyundai are finding out.

    Just because the EPA tests give you a big number is no reason to rely upon that number when dealing with customers.

    Ford would have been better of with something like “Though our EPA rating is 47 mpg, we believe that 43 mpg is a more realistic real world expectation. Your own mileage may vary.”

    That way they don’t have to worry about a competitor with a high EPA rating because they’ve made it clear to consumers that the EPA ratings aren’t reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      No company is going to say that…though it would be correct of them to do so. The loophole of the law allows them to use an unrealistic number, so they do. Just as massive corporations use the tax code to avoid paying tax. It’s morally bankrupt, but its legal, and it makes business sense. So, just as the tax code needs to change, so does the EPA testing. Funny you mention the “big” number. In the dark days of the Malaise Era, the city value was the one that had to be emphasized by law. You see it in all the links to old car ads here on TTAC. That legal requirement went away in the early 80s…

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Last I heard, sometime in the 1990s when airbag related laws were absolutely insane (and probably still are), you couldn’t legaly claim any mileage number other than the EPA numbers. This isn’t all that crazy, considering what numbers hypermilers can easily pull off, but since customers have sued when the EPA numbers are higher than reality…

        I don’t think I’ve seen any non-EPA number advertized. I don’t think the law has changed.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          I was going to say the same thing. The only mileage numbers the car manufacturers are allowed to advertise are the EPA numbers. VW can’t for example, along with the EPA numbers for its TDI, advertise that CR or someone else achieved even better numbers.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Dealers seem to be allowed to advertise non-EPA numbers though.

            I see plenty of Kias and Sonics with big yellow “up to 40 MPG!” stickers on them.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Ford would have been better of with something like “Though our EPA rating is 47 mpg, we believe that 43 mpg is a more realistic real world expectation. Your own mileage may vary.”

      Except, they didn’t really have an EPA number, did they? They computed what it might be, given what they thought they knew about the car. Oops!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I say do away with the EPA numbers on the monroney all together as consumers refuse, or are unable to realize that those numbers are unlikely to reflect what they will see in reality. They are for comparison to other vehicles only.

    Because consumers expect the “advertised” number to be what they will see, they should rely on the results reported by independent tests that clearly disclose the conditions under which the numbers were obtained. From the variety of independent sources, they can choose to look at the results from the tsting methods that best represent their drive cycle and style to best estimate what mileage that car will net under their control.

    The EPA cycle barely represents anyone’s real life drive cycle, so consumers see it as a misrepresentation of some sort of guarantee. Otherwise known as, “fawlse advertisin’!”. Why bother? It’s a waste.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem is that the EPA numbers are useless even comparing vehicles.

      My 2005 WRX STi in new rating gets 16/22/18 mixed.
      My wifes 2011 Sorento gets 18/24/20 mixed

      So the Sorento should be 11% better. In reality the STi is 11% better!

      Real world

      STI average over last 63 fill-ups: 23.37 mixed
      Sorento last 39 fill-ups: 20.99

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Right. Comparing EPA numbers is only worthwhile when comparing two vehicles under the EPA test conditions. Of course many people’s driving cycles and styles will stray from that considerably. Making the numbers as you said, useless.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I think the situation is worse than that. As others have pointed out, small-displacement turbocharged engines will generate nice EPA numbers but use more fuel in the real world. Ford Motor has bought into this all the way, with it’s “ecoboost” series of engines, especially the four-cylinders. CR had an absolutely devasting takedown of the Ford engines, showing that they achieve worse fuel economy and lower performance (acceleration) than similarly rated engines in competitors’ similar cars.

        Also, with hybrids having the ability to be programmed to optimize battery/engine use to the best effect on the EPA cycle, the comparison is worse. For example, does anyone seriously doubt that a Jetta TDI will get better mileage in the real world than a Fusion Hybrid?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Most Buick Encore owners are shocked at the better than EPA numbers:

      http://buickforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31839

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I can better the EPA numbers in my Charger too, a mostly highway trip this past week needed 26 mpg average when the sticker says 25. It’s not really shocking, many people average much less than the sticker too, our driving styles vary considerably from the EPA test.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Actually, the Encore gets much much worse than EPA numbers. CR, in its thorough standardized testing, got 23 mpg. And the Encore is slowwwwwwwwwww.

        So, once again a small turbo fails to provide “as rated” fuel economy as noted above.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Even our very own Alex Dykes beat EPA combined:

          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-buick-encore-video/

          Motorweek and Autoblog both exceeded EPA. This reviewers are not just running errands or going out to eat. They are pushing the car during tests for the review. And they still beat EPA. Might be the EPA beating wonder story of the year.

          See what HMC could do if they would have a main stream engine?

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Even Alex Dykes review beat combined. And includes some full throttle testing.

          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-buick-encore-video/

          Include Motorweek, Autoblog….

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        So THIS is how I can finally acheive anywhere near 32 MPG highway for my 2013 Chevy Equinox I4 – by driving at 47 MPH on a straight road with no hills or valleys, on non-ethanol!

  • avatar
    nvdw

    With every fuel economy test cycle anywhere in the world, including EPA, NEDC, JC08:

    - the test conditions will NEVER be 100% accurate to the real world. The conditions are always arbitrary to give every type of car a fair chance (climate, speeds, A/C systems on/off etc).

    - the ‘real world driving’ also consists of people who never coast and always brake, apply full throttle or none at all, use their car for 1 mile journeys, drive around with unused roof racks or roof boxes, etc

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      this.

      people are stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      What is this “coasting” of which you speak? I love the people that brake on highways when they’re coming up on someone and the left lane (or the right) is completely clear. And then they have to re-accelerate to pass, wasting more fuel. So yes indeed, people are stupid.

      I had no idea that the EPA testing didn’t allow ethanol. I think Maine is 10% right now but they’re trying to outlaw that and resisting the 15% mandate.

    • 0 avatar
      mies

      Agreed. Fuel economy has more to do with driving style than most consumers realize. It’s not hard to meet or exceed the sticker MPG estimates if you pay attention to traffic.

      Another thing I have noticed is that regardless of how fast you drive, you are never driving fast enough for the person behind you. Cruising at 10MPH over the speed limit doesn’t help fuel economy either.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        “Another thing I have noticed is that regardless of how fast you drive, you are never driving fast enough for the person behind you.”

        Get out of the passing lane and you might mitigate that problem.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I have always found, over a number of vehicles, that I tend to get pretty darn near the EPA fuel economy numbers. I drive with a heavy foot as well. I agree that fuel economy figures, however they are ultimately arrived at, should reflect the real world as close as possible. I think one of the biggest flaws is having the highway loop measured from 62 mpg (I think). Lets face it, on a real highway trip, provided you are not in serious congestion, most are traveling closer to 80 mph which creates considerable drag.

    Having owned a turbo4 in the past, I think the wool is being pulled over the public’s eyes in a sence. I think the average person has no clue that turbo’s are meant to increase the amount of gas an engine of specific displacement can burn and that fuel economy savings are marginal at best over a comparable V6 in everyday use.

    My current car is Nissan Maxima V6 290 hp, average 21 mpg. Last car was Mazdaspeed6, 274hp turbo4 DISI, average 21 mpg. Both had nearly identical EPA ratings, both returned within EPA ratings for mixed driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      Since I started religiously tracking fuel economy, all our cars get pretty much bang on the EPA ratings…and this spans a rotary, a straight-six, a V-8, and a turbo 4. (Of course they get nowhere near the Canadian ratings which are pure fantasyland). The common denominator is that all our cars are manual transmissions, and I don’t know how those are tested, if at all. I guess my point is that is is POSSIBLE to arrive at a realistic fuel economy rating, but the devil must be in the details.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Even if no change to the testing procedure is done, at the very least we should expect that the government test every car. Then at least we will be able to compare mpg numbers across cars with the assurance that if they are inaccurate, at least they are equally inaccurate across all brands.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The problem with testing every car is the cost, which would be inevitably passed on to the consumer. It’s something the consumer would little value for, so why bother?

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        MPG testing would be way cheaper than say, crash testing. Even the cost of crash testing is insignificant compared to R&D, tooling and manufacturing costs.

  • avatar
    Brawndo

    Woah, 21.2 mph in the city cycle? Sounds a wee bit optimistic to me. I think a city commuter test would be more accurate as:

    0-10 mph ground out over a soul-destroying 1.25 hrs (representing commutes between 7 am – 8 pm);

    0-45 mph – a cycle of 45 mph for 20 seconds, followed by 1 minute of 0 mph, repeated 15 times (representing driving from stoplight to stoplight at nighttime).

  • avatar
    IndianaDriver

    The number of gears seems to matter, especially for city and suburban driving. When it comes down to it, I’ve found in my 25+ years of driving many different cars is that the heavier the vehicle – the lower the MPG. Go to fuelly.com and you’ll see that the MPG people report for vehicles falls this way. When I see similar vehicle types, but one weighs 300 lbs. more than another, but yet claims better MPG, I just take it with a grain of salt.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I generally agree. I also use Consumer Reports numbers when comparing fuel economy. They have a set loop, run it multiple times with different drivers, and then compile the data… and the automakers don’t have an opportunity to “teach to the test”. Their city loop seems to be the absolute low end (as even non-plug-in hybrids end up with pretty low numbers here) and their highway loop seems to be the absolute top end. Their 150 mi roadtrip is what you can expect on a short roadtrip. CR’s cycle seems to put greater emphasis on weight as your heavier cars tend to really get punished in the city cycle.

      Tin foil cap time: I honestly think that the EPA test is purposely set up to not punish heavy vehicles. With the auto industry’s reliance on truck sales, slapping 17mpg, which is what every 1/2 ton seems to get unless you are in the midwest doing 55mph, on the sticker would do some major harm to truck sales and would possibly *gasp* encourage people to buy smaller, less profitable trucks or not daily drive trucks at all. A 350hp engine isn’t doing to haul a 5600lb brick shaped vehicle around and return 22mpg unless your driving cycle is 45mph with no stop lights, no traffic, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        I agree. CR is as good as it gets on mpg. They are the ones that forced Ford’s hand.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Ford is being sued for its mileage claims. As was the case with Hyundai, it’s the class action cases that are leading to these revised estimates.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Class action cases: another abuse. Didn’t William Lerach go to jail for using class action as a shake-down mechanism?

        • 0 avatar
          redrum

          “CR is as good as it gets on mpg”

          Uh oh, here come the CR haters… :D

          I do agree that CR gives the best, most usable data in their reviews. They’re the only reviewer who independently measures shoulder and leg room (most publications just quote the manufacturers, even though it’s quite obvious there is NO standard in how manufacturers report these numbers), and I trust their test loop mpg calculations more than the EPA ratings any day. Most car reviewers don’t even bother trying to get a reproduceable mpg rating (such as Motorweek’s standard “during our week with the car we averaged 20 mpg, but we did drive with a heavy foot much of that way!”, as if that tells us anything useful).

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “during our week with the car we averaged 20 mpg, but we did drive with a heavy foot much of that way!”

            I HATE auto journalists that do this.

            “Well, we got 8 MPG in the new Taurus SHO, but we drove it like we were on Road America the whole time!” Well, that’s cool for you folks. But does the Ecoboost 3.5L save any fuel over a 5.7L 300c?

            Just as bad are the eco-centric car reviews. “We got 38 MPG in our Lacrosse V6. As always drafting semitrucks, only going 48mph, and never stopping for red lights is the key.”

            Is it too much to ask for a mileage test that isn’t at an extreme?

            0-60 and quarter mile times achieved with crazy clutch drops and brake torqueing bother me too. How many launches like that can that Jeep Patriot take?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        17 mpg isn’t bad, if I were concerned about fuel economy in a truck I would get a cummins or duramax pre 06

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    While we’re at it, let’s fix the bias toward automatic transmissions in the test protocol.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      Exactly. I’m sick of hearing people say that automatics are the mileage kings now. If you know how to efficiently drive a stick, it’s not the case. The manual transmission EPA cycle has ridiculous set shift points.

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        No kidding – also, it seems that manufacturers are building manuals with very short gearing – for instance, a Honda Fit with a manual will scream at 4,000 RPM at 80 MPH… an Automatic will run several hundred RPM lower. Since all modern automatics have lockup torque-converters, they are both running with the same transmission losses – why have give the automatic a better overdrive than the manual? Unless you want to be able to claim that your automatics are as good as rowing your own on the pocketbook.

  • avatar
    Onus

    I guess i feel more lucky with the mpg is get with my 3/4 diesel pickup.

    22mpg driving to work. 90% highway. Average speed about 60.

    The outer highways are 65mph i drive the limit. Roads drops to 55mph half way through the trip. I try to still stick to 65 but when traffic hites you slow down quite a bit.

    http://www.fuelly.com/driver/onus/f250

    I think the mpg estimates are fine personally. I think they can be meet if driving style is changed ever so slightly.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Fuel economy standards like CAFE or EPA numbers are horrifically difficult to change because the regulators know that if they try to produce something that reflects reality, the automakers will simply lobby congress to pass a law overriding whatever it is the EPA wants to accomplish.

    It took many years just to get standards allowing the EPA to run the Aircon during the test.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      I tend to agree with your sentiment. The system is designed to allow the Manufacturers to legally fudge the reporting. And obviously, some are better at it, and some are a little worse off (i.e. Ford and Hyundai).

      I personally rely on reported fuel economy from the different outlets, and even from user reports on Fuelly to get a more realistic picture.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Real world results are always going to vary. No 2 drivers are the same, and no 2 commutes are the same. Since the only real use of the fuel economy numbers to the public are for comparison, it’s time to stop tinkering around trying to get the most accurate “real world” numbers. Create an industry standard for a treadmill and a canned test procedure that everybody has to use. The manufacturers can test every model, cheaply, and submit the data. Yes, the results will not be completely realistic since it will not reflect aero drag and other factors. But the present system is full of loopholes and too easy for the manufacturers to game. Let the public get real world results from TTAC, CR, C&D, etc, and emphasize that the numbers on the sticker are “stationary laboratory estimates for comparison only”.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Ultimately, regardless of what the EPA rating procedure is, the automakers are plain stupid if they post fuel economy numbers that are not attainable. With so many people factoring in fuel economy to their purchase decisions, an automaker could lose a customer for life if they underdeliver by a wide margin.

    Ask Honda how those small claims court battles are going over its Civic Hybrid pie-in-the-sky fuel economy promises. Honda, Hyundai and Ford are getting what they deserve. All the automakers know dam well what kind of mpg owners of their cars can expect, to suggest otherwise is an outright lie and to post it on window stickers, TV and website is fraud.

    Hiding behind the EPA estimates and gaming the system will lose more customers long term than can be gained short term.

  • avatar
    Topher

    Two comments:

    1) There will be no perfect reality-recreating test. The best we can hope for is consistency between vehicles, i.e. that a car that’s labeled at 35mpg combined uses less fuel than one rated at 25.

    2) Why are we looking at mpg when gallons/mile would make so much more sense? Who goes out and buys a gallon of gas and then asks himself where he wants to go that’s X miles away? It’s always the other way around: how much gas do I need to get to my destination?

    Edited because of autocorrect.

    • 0 avatar

      When you have a very small 2-4g tank, then you ask yourself if you can make it x miles away….

      • 0 avatar
        Topher

        So, motorcycles can stick with mpg. The other benefits of gpm over mpg is better comparison. A 20mpg vehicle will use half the fuel that a 10mpg vehicle would, but it looks like only a 10 mile jump. In contrast, a 75mpg vehicle will use two-thirds the fuel that a 50 mpg vehicle would, but it gets a 25 mpg jump. If you’re looking at reducing your overall fuel consumption of your fleet, upgrading the 10mpg vehicle to a 20 mpg vehicle is vastly better (assuming # of miles driven is the same across all vehicles).

        In gpm figures:

        10 mpg = 0.1 gpm
        20 mpg = 0.05 gpm
        50 mpg = 0.02 gpm
        75 mpg = 0.013 gpm (repeating of course)

        Ok, so maybe it should be gallons per hundred miles…

        10 mpg = 10 gpm
        20 mpg = 5 gpm
        50 mpg = 2 gpm
        75 mpg = 1.3 gpm

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I think you mean gal/100mi, but I agree. The problem is that MPG really works in the favor of the automakers (10% gain on a 30mpg car is +3mpg rather than a measly 0.3gal/100 mile improvement) rather than the consumer. It would really help the consumer choose daily driving a truck versus a sedan, though. 5gal/100mi or 2.8gal/100mi? That is almost $9 difference per 100 miles. $900 difference per year at only 10k/yr.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      Most people typically ask “how much farther can I go with the gas left in my tank”. In that case, mpg is a much better format.
      Proof. Give a non car friend the following question/scenario:

      Scenario A: Your fuel light goes on. Your reserve tank is 2 gallons. Your car gets 22 mpg. How far can you go until you get close to running out of fuel?

      Scenario B: Your fuel light goes on. Your reserve tank is 2 gallons. Your car gets 4.55 gal/100mi. How far can you go until you get close to running out of fuel?

      That said, I have no sympathies for people that do not have the math skills to realize what a reciprocal is.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Why would that non-car friend have the slightest idea how many gallons of fuel they have in reserve? That isn’t something that is standardized. Most cars have a ‘miles to empty’ gauge (which is really just a miles until you are into the reserve tank gauge).

        I way more often find myself asking how much it will cost to drive somewhere for a weekend trip. Do I make a special trip to pick something up or have it shipped via Amazon Prime?

        • 0 avatar
          See 7 up

          And all your special trips are evenly rounded to the 100 miles?

          How is gal/100mi any easier to determine than mpg.

          Say your trip is 268 miles. Car gets 25 mpg (4 gal/100mi).

          268/25*(gas cost/gal) = trip cost
          or
          268/100*4*(gas cost/gal)

          seems to me mpg requires one less algebraic step or as danio3834 said “dun make me divide stuff!”

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            You picked an easy 25mpg. Let’s go with 17mpg for 268 miles. Go ahead and calculate 268/17 in your head and I’ll calculate 268/100*5.9 (or 2.7 * 6). Let’s see who gets within 10% faster.

            My biggest complaint is that mpg does not trend with dollars. 2mpg means a lot of dollars if you are going from 10 to 12. It means basically nothing if you are going from 30 to 32. gal/100 miles better indicates the difference in money you’ll be spending to fuel a vehicle when comparing two cars.

          • 0 avatar
            See 7 up

            Quentin,
            there are always going to be number combination that makes one system easier than the other for mental arithmetic, and vice versa. The fact is that 20 mpg and 5gal/100mi are the same. If people can’t understand that, so be it. Im not defaulting to the lowest common denominator….

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I don’t see where either system is superior. If we had used gpm all along, I’m sure most would be happy, and a few would preach about mpg.

            As for indicating the real cost difference in fueling different vehicles, anyone with even 7th grade math skills should be able to figure that out.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            The other thing I like about gal/100mi is that the amount of money you save by getting a more fuel efficient vehicle trends linearly with the rating.

            For example, assume $4/gal, 15k miles/yr. Going from a 8.0gal/100mi to 7.5gal/100mi saves you $300/yr. Going from 2.5gal/100mi to 2.0gal/100mi saves you $300/yr. The delta between both is 0.5gal/100mi and the savings/yr is the same.. $300. It doesn’t work that way with mpg. 12mpg (8.3g/100mi) to 14mpg (8.0g/100mi) saves $714/yr. Going from 48mpg (2.3g/100mi) to 50mpg (2.0g/100mi) saves $50/yr. Both are 2mpg better, but the savings, which is what really matters, doesn’t trend with the improvement in fuel economy.

            And yeah, the math is insanely simple. I don’t deny that. Maybe it is pandering to the lowest common denominator, but I think that comparing vehicles by gal/100mi is a more obvious representation of fuel efficiency. Missing the fuel economy rating by 2mpg matters a heck of a lot more to your wallet in a 20mpg rated truck than being 2mpg low in a 45mpg rated hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “Scenario A: Your fuel light goes on. Your reserve tank is 2 gallons. Your car gets 22 mpg. How far can you go until you get close to running out of fuel?

        Scenario B: Your fuel light goes on. Your reserve tank is 2 gallons. Your car gets 4.55 gal/100mi. How far can you go until you get close to running out of fuel?

        That said, I have no sympathies for people that do not have the math skills to realize what a reciprocal is.”

        “Dun make me divide stuff!”

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The answer is: To work, back home, and back to work again. Maybe I can even get home a second time too.

          or to most people the answer is whatever the car’s computer says.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      2) Why are we looking at mpg when gallons/mile would make so much more sense?

      While I completely agree with you, this is America. Bigger is better. More efficient = bigger mpg rating.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Let Baruth take the car on a few laps of Nelson Ledges at full tilt, and measure the fuel consumption. Put that figure on the sticker. Customers will then be thrilled when they beat the official MPG estimates.

    Edited to add: That looks like a Civic instrument cluster, but with a really low redline. Diesel model?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The EPA ratings were changed five years ago. They’re generally pretty good, and vastly superior to what is done elsewhere.

    As an example, the C-MAX had an EPA rating of 47/47. In Canada, it was rated at 4.0L/100km city and 4.1L/100 km highway, which equates to 59/57.

    If you compare US EPA ratings to their European equivalents, you’ll find that the European claims are consistently 20-30% higher. They don’t have magic fuel in Europe, it’s just that the European tests are more easily gamed.

    Putting the cars on a dynamometer is a good idea, for the sake of consistency. The most important feature of a test such as this is consistency.

    Having the automakers conduct their own tests saves us money. It’s cheaper and less bureaucratic for the feds to do just enough spot checking to keep the automakers honest.

    You certainly don’t want to rely on “real world” reports, due to the lack of consistency. No two people have the same driving cycle, and the self reporting may be inaccurate. The NormSVs of the world would insist that their magic Saabs get 50 mpg, and the reporting would be wholly unreliable.

    E10 has minimal impact on mileage. I wouldn’t object to the EPA using E10 during their tests, but this would have virtually no impact on reported fuel economy.

    There’s no need for sweeping changes. Some modifications wouldn’t hurt, but the basic approach is sound and works well in most cases.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Fuelly is a good source, though. It generally gives you a nice bell curve of the upper and lower extents of what that car is capable. If you drive ideal conditions (all highway, flat, few stops, like a sane person), you can assume you’ll be toward the top end of that curve. If you do a lot of city driving, you can assume you’ll be toward the bottom. Seeing where you fall on the curve of your current vehicle will give you a good idea where you will fall on the curve of your new vehicle (within reason… I’m at the top of the curve in my 4Runner but in the fat/lower portion in my Prius v because I have the trim with wider wheels and tires and more heft in general). Basically, I’m very happy that we have Fuelly, CR, and the EPA to look at data. The people that just look at the EPA rating and blindly assume that is what they’ll get are setting themselves up to be disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      E10 can have a significant impact on MPG on some vehicles and be negligible on others, see explanation below.

      A few years ago OR mandated E10 and one of the legislators that voted it in had a serious change of heart after she started having to buy E10 for her Prius. She noted a 10% drop in MPG with it and was quite pissed that she had been sold a bill of goods by the supporters who claimed it would only cause a drop of no more than 3% based on the difference of the BTU’s in the two fuels.

      Living in WA and the fact that OR gets most of their gas from WA also meant that we now have only E10 available despite the fact that we do not have an E10 mandate. On my cars the difference in MPG is about 10% except for the old Taurus FFV that has an actual fuel composition sensor. I’ve also verified the difference when traveling outside of the west coast and was able to get pure gas.

      Well before the OR E10 mandate forced E10 down our throats, we used to have an EPA mandate for oxygenated fuel in the winter, due to “non-compliance” of air quality standards. Oxygenated fuel is about 6% ethanol and when it started hitting stations the request for tune-ups always immediately jumped. Those who kept careful records of their MPG would often see a statistically significant drop in their MPG and think it was time for a tune up.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The EPA mileage tests definitely need to be updated for mileage only, and the mandate that only EPA numbers can be advertised by manufacturers should be eliminated, turning those EPA numbers into advisory data only. A buyer should be able to research different readings from different sources. What’s more important is that the CAFE standards/mandates should be eliminated altogether.

    Not only is it obvious that there are too many variables to set hard numbers for individual cars, aggregating inaccurate numbers only makes the result worse. Besides, while the government has an obligation to explore enacting reasonable measures regarding health (emissions) and safety, there’s no obligation/authority to force private companies to adhere to fuel economy measures that only serve a government policy of reducing oil imports. There are other, non-coercive ways to promote that government policy that should be employed first, and coercion used only as a last resort in a declared crisis situation.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Sorry but no where in the US is gasoline with up to 20% Ethanol legal for sale in anything but a Flex Fuel vehicle. The EPA and some states have been pushing E15 though.

    The effect of E10 on MPG can vary significantly from vehicle to vehicle with some losing up to 15% and others not really being affected.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      A 15% drop is not going to happen as it’s only 10% ethanol, which has 2/3 the energy content of gasoline. If you replaced that 10% of gasoline with a liquid that had absolutely zero energy content you sould only see about a 10% reduction in efficiency.

      Real world, E10 has about 97.3% of the energy content of straight gasoline and will have about the same % of mpg.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The energy content of the fuel is only part of the equation, how it burns is the other part. So how a vehicle “learns” it’s fuel trims and the overall effect on the system affects the actual change in fuel economy.

        I read a study done by a university on the effects of ethanol on MPG several years ago, of course I can’t find it online now. In that study they obtained a number of different cars from different mfgs and in the case where there was a FFV and non FFV version of the same car one of each. They then ran the Highway fuel economy tests per EPA regulations. First with pure gas then E10, E20, and up until either the check engine light came on with an adaptive fuel limit reached or E85 if the vehicle was a FFV. In the case of the 4cyl Camry the difference between E0 and E10 was statistically insignificant >1% while the 4cyl Fusion lost 15%.

        Ethanol likes more timing advance to get the maximum energy out of the fuel at the same octane rating. If the computer thinks the that VE of the engine is higher, IE operating at a higher load, due to the need to add fuel to “trim” the mixture then in some cases it pulls out a little timing. The net effect is that the engine is running with timing that is retarded from optimum and thus a loss of fuel economy.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I like it when manufacturers undershoot on the EPA tests, like the antiquated Corolla with the 4spd auto that knocks down 40mpg highway no sweat. That way instead of disappointment, buyers are delighted!

    My family’s Fit 2007 (5spd manual), rated for 28/34 under the revised EPA ratings of 2008, actually gets 33 in all short trip city driving, and consistently over 40 on the highway, with a high of 47 when driven up to the Adirondacks on relaxed 55mph roads.

    My 2012 stick shift Civic sedan has been getting me 40 mpg in a mix of highway (73-74 mph) and suburban (35-45 mph, some lights) driving, that’s with me short shifting and coasting to be fair, and prudent use of the A/C.

    I knew well ahead of time when I bought the Civic that it would overperform relative to the sticker, I’ve come to expect that of manual Hondas, and they never disappoint!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      This is an important point in this discussion. For all the people who struggle to meet the EPA figures, there are many (possibly just as many) who exceed the figures in the same vehicles based on their driving cycle and style. We only really hear about the squeaky wheels though.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Very true with my Wife’s 2010 Fusion Hybrid we regularly beat the EPA estimates in combined driving averaging 41 MPG in the summer and that is with E10. Hwy we can pretty much match the 36 MPG rating as long as the speed is kept to around 70 MPH and we aren’t traveling through passes.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I have that same philosophy. I tell women that I only have 2 inches to offer. Once you get that in their heads, anything more is a bonus. :)

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The EPA ratings are used for CAFE, and CAFE requirements have drastically been increased by the Obama administration. Any change to the system that creates more realistic EPA numbers (i.e. lower than today), will be seen as moving the goal posts by automakers and fought tooth and nail. The other question is how realistic is realistic? I can easily get over 40 mpg in my Mini Cooper Clubman S, by driving it like a diesel – i.e. shift to higher gear at 1,800 rpm, which can be done because of the low RPM turbo-induced torque. This type of driving also results in fairly leisurely acceleration that probably does not represent the actual driving style of most Cooper S owners, who buy the car for the power, yet such driving is very doable if the owner has the willpower. So which driving style should be used for realism?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      One thing to keep in mind is that the numbers used for CAFE are the raw numbers with out the adjustments made for the official MPG ratings. If they changed the testing method then they would have to back down on the CAFE mandates and the regulators aren’t about to let that happen so we are stuck with the methodology. However they could certainly make more “adjustments” to the raw numbers to come up with what is displayed on the sticker.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Cooper S has a supercharger not a turbo, which is why you get good low end torque, with out the turbo lag. Many new turbo cars have good low end torque because they use “low pressure” turbos to boost low end torque but there is still a lag.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think the current EPA estimates are basically fine. The problem is the average consumer is not terribly bright, and does not seem to be able to accept the concept of “your mileage my vary”. I generally beat the EPA numbers for my cars by a fair margin.

    The are a couple of things that I think are issues though. Automatics have an advantage on the test that is not there in the real world, and manuals seem to be disadvantaged. Hybrids give the automaker an ability to “teach to the test” and program the car to use the battery more heavily in the speed regimes encountered on the test.

  • avatar
    MOSullivan

    Mileage would be influenced by different approaches to traffic control. I would guess a car travelling an urban or suburban route with roundabouts wouldn’t use as much fuel as one travelling the same route with lights and stop signs. Every stop wastes the fuel burned to accelerate up to speed from the last stop. Synchronized lights that give you a red at every intersection strike me as an invention of Big Oil. Roundabouts keep you rolling unless traffic is very heavy

  • avatar
    carve

    EPA numbers are basically fine if you know how to drive. In all the cars I’ve had in my 20 years of driving, I’ve only gotten worse than the EPA city rating a handful of times, and ususally get close to the highway rating, even in the city. It’s especially easy in a stick.

    My ’95 Cherokee is rated at 15/19 (with the 2008 ratings…17/21 in the old system). I’ve NEVER gotten less than 17.5…that was stuck in a snowstorm with a roof rack on. I typically get 21, city or highway, and highway means going about 80 mph. I’ve gotten 25 for multiple tanks in a row on slightly more sedate road trips.

    My 07 335i is an auto and a bit harder to beat the sticker. It is rated at 17/26. I’ve never gotten under 19, and usually get 21.5 on my city commute. I usually get closer to 30 on the highway. One time on a long road trip on got 35 mpg in this 340 hp car, on snow tires, and that included a few 120 mph passes. A recent roadtrip netted 27 mpg, and that included two runs to 155 mph and about an hour of idling in traffic with the AC on.

    My 91 S-10 is rated at 21/25. I got 26 basically every tank, and NEVER got below 24.

    My 98 Accord is rated at 22/28. It NEVER got less than 27…typically more than 30.

    These were all in mixed driving living in 5 different states.

    IMO, people who can’t meet or beat EPA, especially in a stick, just don’t know how to drive efficiently.

    It would be interesting, however, to see additional ratings for “traffic jam on a 95 degree day” and “75 mph freeway trip” so you can see something that might better reflect your situation.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      I just noticed something interesting- fueleconomy.gov also has numbers submitted by users, and they reflect my numbers very well. The Accord drivers were getting 30, 335i drivers getting 25, the Cherokee drivers are getting 21
      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/calculatorCompareSideBySide.jsp?column=1&id=12459

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “just don’t know how to drive efficiently.”

      Lots of people write this, but don’t give any follow up information.

      What special skills do you employ?

      What do know that allows you to get 35mpg going on straight interstate road at 80mph? Doesn’t seem like there’s too much you can do in that situation.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        80mph is the key there. You can start by lowering that. Use the AC in bursts; use it at max power until it’s cool enough, then turn it off.

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          What if that’s the speed of traffic?

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Then keeping up just encourages them.

            If only the government would again step in.
            With modern tech everyone exceeding the limit on major arteries could be ticketed every time.

            Revenue stream at first and eventually safer roads and saved fuel.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Speed limits would need to be raised to a reasonable speed then.

            Most people are going to drive at a speed with which they’re comfortable and at which they feel safe. In a modern car sold in US spec, and on a long, straight US highway, this would probably be a rather high speed if laws were not a concern.

            Lowering limits would only create a larger speed differential as folks who’d follow the letter of the law if it told them to drive off a cliff do their thing on the same roads as those who drive according to road conditions.

            Put another way: In light traffic, I rarely encounter anyone on the highways I drive doing the speed limit. Doing so, you would be the slowest car on the road, and a rolling chicane. Further, if you tried to ticket every single person on these roads, it would not be taken well.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Well, it couldn’t be brought off by a timid government, no.

            But is it a good thing having one of the highest profile laws of the land, known to every adult citizen regardless of personal ignorance or illiteracy, to be an example of farcical impotence?

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            The conspiracy theorist in me likes to think speed laws are such so that the police can reasonably pull over anyone on the road at any time, since everyone is breaking the law, but experience doesn’t bear that out so I guess I can’t make the case for malice. Traffic here flows past smokey at 20 over the limit, and the only person who gets a second look is the worrywart who slams the brakes and nearly causes an accident.

            I agree with you in spirit, it’s not good that traffic laws are widely ignored, but when a law becomes dangerous to obey, something is wrong.

            Now honestly, I have no idea what to do about this. If I was that smart I could probably afford the chauffeur and private racetrack that I feel would help my sanity so. Our infrastructure was created and is maintained by people who think a stop sign at the end of an interstate onramp is a good idea, and our driving culture is such that situational awareness is entirely optional.

            Best idea I can come up with is to retire to the Isle of Man, where I can drive slowly through my nice village, waving to my lovely neighbors because there isn’t a stone in the pit of my stomach from the rest of the trip.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            There’s such an enjoyable lucidity emanating from all your comments that I know there’s no argument between us. And if there were, we’d both see it as merely entertainment.

            I really think the “conspiracy theorist” is a gender flagging, inevitable stage of transition for highly intelligent and educated males of post-Vietnam America. My experience gives about an 80-20 male to female ratio among like-gifted young people. Women in this group appear to be better able to focus on their field and ignore the flashes on the horizon until they’re in a position to take concrete, specific action should they desire.

            My Isle of Man would be Hokkaido.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I think the solution is to do nothing. The current unenforced, mostly too low speed limits allow both police and motorists to use their judgement. If you are flowing with traffic and not constantly changing lanes like a dbag, police leave you alone. I’ve even found you can pass most traffic and be left alone provided you are not a dbag (from what I have heard, Virginia is the exception to this).

            I don’t think the government needs to turn the highways into a police state so we can save fuel. Motorists should be aware that reducing load on the engine will save fuel. If they want to ignore that, they can pay at the pump.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            @burgersandbeer

            Kinetics, attention, reaction time, sobriety, road disrepair and antiquity.

            80-ish is too damn fast for the motley herd that’s out there right now on our cratering, legacy highways.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Kenmore, pretty eloquent yourself for a fridge. These new internet-enabled models are clearly more advanced than I ever imagined.

            My knee does twitch these days whenever someone proposes a new bureaucracy or extending the use thereof. I’m generally uncomfortable with monopolies, and again I don’t know why this is (and I try not to think about it because I’ll only be wrong,) but our choices these days are seeming ever-more transparently facile.

            But anyway; I hear Hokkaido is pretty much always nice, real winters notwithstanding.

            I did just plop down on the couch after about 140 highway miles with this conversation in mind. I can’t say I saw anything truly stupefying, but weekend traffic tends to be less maddening than the scatterbrained 9-5 lemming migration of which I am a granule.

            I was able to validate my points to myself for what little it’s worth (75/55 past speed traps as troopers passed @ about 78-80,) and incidentally a few burgersandbeer (suddenly hungry) made as well: Drive smoothly and decisively, and you can pretty much do whatever you need to do.

            But also, and this is honestly kinda distressing, what if fake speed limits really are our best option? Is this the end result of a half-century of refinement, or a lack of oversight? Am I just asking from the great American melting pot, or well-tossed salad, or whatever it is, a kind of bigoted perfection that can never be achieved?

            I mean, I just want people to stop tapping the brakes because there’s someone in the lane next to them. Am I crazy?

          • 0 avatar
            Demetri

            I haven’t experienced any area where going the speed limit was unsafe, but I guess I’ll take your word for it. Actually, I drive 55 in a 65 when the traffic is light (it usually is where I live), with no issues. In traffic I speed it up as a courtesy, because it’s more difficult to pass in traffic.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “a kind of bigoted perfection that can never be achieved”

            aka: Personal standards.

            “..I just want people to stop tapping the brakes because there’s someone in the lane next to them..”

            Startle response because they never use their f-ing mirrors?

            Or “OMG I need this exit!” ?

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I personally can’t feel safe with traffic rushing up and whizzing past.

            At a basic level in terms of speed, all I ask from fellow drivers is that they try to stay in the same ballpark.

            20mph is an uncomfortably large ballpark though, for me. In my example, and this is a 2-lane divided, someone doing the speed limit would have been passed by a long line of cars with a 20mph differential, and probably would be looked at more closely than the faster-moving pack.

            Some people around here are OK with this, clearly, since they do it, but it makes me pucker a little thinking about being in that position.

            Regarding the brake phenomenon, the former I guess, I don’t know why they do it.

            And hey, just so that we’re on topic, in my car I cannot safely get less than 30mpg on mixed public roads which appears to be above EPA. It’s the most curious thing.

          • 0 avatar

            @Demetri:

            If you’d like to see how dangerous it is to drive at the speed limit, even in the right lane, try I-94 in Chicago from about 5 miles north of the 90/94 split to the WI state line….

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    >I think the current EPA estimates are basically fine. The problem is the average consumer is not terribly bright, and does not seem to be able to accept the concept of “your mileage my vary”.

    That’s a common refrain, and is a given, but it isn’t the issue. The real problems are the self-reporting nature of of the regulation. I can’t think of any self-reported industry where the numbers aren’t fudged.

    >The are a couple of things that I think are issues though. Automatics have an advantage on the test that is not there in the real world, and manuals seem to be disadvantaged. Hybrids give the automaker an ability to “teach to the test” and program the car to use the battery more heavily in the speed regimes encountered on the test.

    Which leads to the second real issue; is that the gaming of the test cycle leads to no benefit for the consumer. Optimizing gearing and turbo programming for the test cycle neither gives the consumer better fuel economy nor does it improve the driving experience. I’ll bet a lot of ‘boring’ cars would drive differently if the gearing was made to be more useful.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Wait, the corn lobby wants the ‘guberment to mandate E15, but the EPA test cycle mandates pure gas?

    Even the most accurate estimate is hosed out of the gate – E10 can give you a 6% to 10% MPG slap in the wallet.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yes that is certainly part of the problem since there are a number of states where E10 is mandated, and the Renewable Fuel Standards combined with the fact that fuel supplies are shared between states and the fact that E10 is more profitable for the oil companies means that in many areas E10 is the only game in town.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Nowadays, we carry tools in our pockets that can, with a few finger taps, access virtually the sum total of all human knowledge, so it’s not difficult for a prospective buyer to find out the true MPG of a car under consideration. If you don’t read car reviews before you buy, you’re an idiot anyway and you get what you deserve. Like so many other things, the government has no place here.

    • 0 avatar
      marc

      But we’re too busy using those tools to argue with strangers and look at pictures of kitty cats (or pugs in my case).

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      There is a great deal of misinformation out there in internet land to. Opinion and agenda driven reviewing of cars is pretty common and is often misleading and even wildly inaccurate. If the government was to test EPA, would that not be considered protecting citizens from the misinformation? If that be the case then I would think that is OK, by me any way.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Tow ratings are still worse.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I have trawled through the US EPA site and it makes for some interesting reading.

    There is a problem with how the EPA assesses mpgs and even emissions.

    I do know diesel is disadvantaged. HP is used to measure emissions, yet a 200hp diesel will achieve the same or even more than a 300hp gas engine. I don’t want the ‘physicists’ to tell me what a HP, or joule of whatever is.

    The EPA even has set higher targets of improvement for diesel vs gas.

    It would be easier if the US just became compliant to the UNECE vehicle harmonisation countries.

    All of the regulatory bodies supported by the tax payers in the US could be shrunk. Other advanced economies have spent time and money assessing vehicles, engines, etc. Why replicate this again in the US and then have slightly different rules.

    In the end is an American vehicle better or worse than a Euro/Asian vehicle? The only gain is protectionism and a larger civil service to regulate.

    I don’t think the EPA civil servants, manufacturer/unions and all the other’s would like my idea. But US motor vehicles would become cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’d really like to know where you found this bit that shows that HP has anything to do with how they measure emissions or MPG. To test emissions they stick a teflon bag over the tail pipe of the vehicle and run it over specific driving schedule and then analyze the contents of they bag and then divide by the 11.04 miles the test encompasses to get the g/mile of each pollutant. From the results of the grams of each of the components of the emissions they then calculate the amount of the test standard fuel that would have been required to produce what is in the bag.

      Yes they have recently required greater improvement in emissions from diesel engines than on gasoline engines,but it is not the conspiracy you make it out to be. The fact is for a very long time diesels were exempt from emissions standards and they are finally getting them on par with gasoline engines. So they are compressing the changes made to gasoline standards over a period of over 40 years to just a handful of years for diesel engines. On the one hand that certainly seems unfair but on the other hand the fact that diesels were exempt for many years was also unfair. The fact is they are just leveling the playing field after all these years.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Guy I work with is looking for “something that gets 40MPG” to replace his minivan. I told him he’d be miserable, the minivan rides smooth. I’m sure that EPA mileage loop goes by the unicorn farm and leprechaun ran-restaurant. Buy what you want to drive. Don’t come around crying but it’s supposed to get such and such mpg! Tests have been gamed since Socrates got tired of talking and gave out pencils.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Most drivers don’t fully appreciate that to get a proper mpg measure for the family bus they need:
    1. an honest gas pump – not readily available in many jurisdictions.
    2. a properly calibrated odometer
    3. a well-tuned and properly set up vehicle
    4. a consistent ethanol percentage in their gasoline.
    5. to get across the board consistency between tested vehicles even such things as altitude and ambient temperature need to be pretty close

    The EPA methods do correct for these factors. They don’t simulate your driving patterns, my driving patterns or Billy Joe’s driving patterns. Further, as some have pointed out, manufacturers game the existing system to generate favorable ad copy. One recurrent problem is that an overstressed little turbo 4-banger in a heavy car may end up with terrible gas mileage and a short service life if driven hard.

    Might make an interesting story. Pick some likely offenders. Get the rentals. Find an honest gas pump. Calibrate the odometer (all it takes is a measured mile). Check the tire pressures, et.al. Construct some kind of amusing, but stressful course and see what happens. The real issue is that if you baby one of these underpowered lumps, you probably get good mpg. If you drive them hard, just the opposite. Inquiring minds want to know.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    So let me get this straight… The EPA mandates the use of ethanol in gasoline – and is forcing more of it on us in upcoming years, but forbids the manufacturers to use it in their mileage tests?

    Only in America!

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    We too (Australia) have the economy figures, city/highway, displayed on each new car sold. Interestingly the blurb on the sticker reads that “these figures are obtained under test conditions and may not be obtainable under normal driving conditions. These figures are provided as to allow consumer comparisons only.” Perhaps that is what is implied by the NA figures. Mind you the tests are conducted under ADR scrutiny and impartial and the manufactures refer to them in advertising as such.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      In the US, the standard disclaimer is “Your mileage may vary.” A lot of people apparently don’t understand this concept, even though the phrase has become part of the popular lexicon to express the general idea that not everyone can get the same results.

      From what I’ve seen of the Australian figures, the highway and combined ratings are typically higher than the US ratings for the same cars. The US test procedure produces relatively conservative figures, yet people complain about it, anyway.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Too much time is spent on small engines with turbos.

    My 87 s10 came with a 2.8l 4speed 4.11 rear end, I changed out the motor for a 3.4l (simply bored+stroked variety) changed the 2.8 tbi to a 4.3 tbi with 4.3 injectors.
    With the 2.8 I was lucky to get 21mpg mind you properly tuned with just over 100k miles
    With the 3.4 I can do 26mpg all day long.

  • avatar
    CGHill

    My own ride came out stickered at 20/28; the 2008 Great Refudge Refactoring changed the Federal estimate to 17/25. Car still gets 21/27, after 146,000 miles, mostly on E10. (I can routinely expect about a 3-percent bump with E0, when E0 can be had, as it can at about 10 percent of local stations; this is consistent with the difference in energy content.) I have seen a few long-distance tanks of 30 mpg with 93-octane juice instead of the recommended 91, but 93 is hard to come by out here in the Quarter-Mile-High City, and it’s priced at Upper Wazoo levels. (I never touch 87; experience has taught me that the engine controls will spite me by using enough additional fuel to negate any conceivable savings.)

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      I had a similar experience with a 2002 Acura TL 3.2. It is tuned to run on premium. Using regular gas costs 2 mpg. There may be a hypothetical ECU that might shave that, but I don’t know of it.

  • avatar
    Power6

    My understanding is the EPA can’t actually change the test as it is used for CAFE calculations, which we know use the unrealistic numbers. The “realistic numbers” they use now are just a calculation based on the CAFE numbers.

    I’d love to see a re-jiggering of the test…something more real world. Many cars have compromised drivability simply due to the engineers having to play the MPG numbers game, reluctant downshifts and eager upshifting.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Because EPA tests are done by the manufacturers there is inconsistency, That inconsistency means that cross brand vehicle comparisons are invalid. The advertising is even more loopy. “My vehicle has a better gas mileage… because I said so…”
    Perhaps the NHTSA should test gas mileage before they wreck the car?
    BTW turbo engines are, by their nature, very sensitive to driving style. Essentially if you want power you have to pay for it. The idea is that the smaller engine uses less fuel when you don’t need the power but the temptation is often too great.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The tests are performed by drivers who follow specific instructions.

      The individual tests are also monitored electronically to make sure that the human testers act perform as they are supposed to.

      Consistency isn’t the problem. Having manufacturers conduct their own testing or paying specialized third parties to do it isn’t a problem.

      The problem comes from the test’s difficulty of coping with the new breed of hybrids such as Ford’s, which rely more heavily on all-electric power modes. That creates more variability than does Toyota’s approach, which uses the gas engine more often and therefore with more predictable gasoline fuel economy. Theoretically, one should be able to drive a Ford hybrid for considerable distances without using any gasoline, but the results among individual drivers can vary significantly.

  • avatar
    afflo

    The funny thing about EPA ratings is that I’ve always assumed they were on the low side to protect the manufacturers against outrageous claims. I’ve almost always gotten better fuel economy than the window sticker on my cars (most of which have been Hondas, and stick shifts, FWIW).

  • avatar

    Although I agree 38 MPG is a perfectly reasonable highway estimate for my 2012 Hyundai Elantra, I can now routinely hit the old 40 MPG estimate on a less-than-ideal stretch of highway between Olympia, Washington and Portland, Oregon.

    To achieve this, I camp out in the right lane with the cruise control set at 65 MPH and keep the car in 6th gear at all costs. That run of I-5 is hardly what could be called ‘ideal conditions’ either; it rolls considerably so there’s quite a bit of up and down to contend with and traffic is usually pretty unpredictable. That’s why I like staying in the right lane, especially on the three-lane sections where I watch people go flying by in the left lane at 75-80 only to slam on their brakes a half mile down the road because some pompous tool in a Prius refuses to move over. In fact, most of the time my lane (the right most) is the emptiest and the left is the fullest, packed with cars all trying to get around nothing.

    At the end of the trip, my average speed is pretty much the same as it would have been had I been doing 70-75 (or at least attempting) and trying to get around the left lane hogs. I also arrive less stressed, with less wear on my vehicle and a higher average MPG rating to boot. I even got my lead-footed friend to try it on the same stretch of road and his 2008 Sonata V6 which he gripes about being a gas hog got 28 MPG. I’m betting I could have gotten it over 30. ;-)

    One final note: My best highway mileage out of the Elantra was 45 MPG in 90 degree weather with the A/C on.


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