Category: Fuel Economy

By on September 23, 2017

2017 Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum Crew Cab 4x4

Say you’re on the Ram website, perusing a new 2500 heavy-duty pickup. On the specifications page, you scroll down to the fuel efficiency table to see how many Andrew Jacksons you’ll be forking over at the pumps. The verdict? The Ram 2500 has a 32-gallon fuel tank. Thank you for visiting.

Unlike passenger cars and light duty trucks, heavy-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight above 8,500 pounds aren’t required to flash fuel economy data on a window sticker. Searching the fueleconomy.gov database turns up nothing in the way of information. Now, Consumers Union wants Congress to change that. The consumer advocacy group is calling on the federal government to place fuel economy information on window stickers for the benefit of large truck buyers.

As it awaits a response, the group’s Consumer Reports publication went ahead and tested some heavy-duty pickups. Read More >

By on September 15, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: VolkswagenAt launch, the lone Volkswagen Atlas available in the United States was the more powerful 3.6-liter V6, a Tennessee-built $34,425 three-row crossover with 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is an $1,800 option. The Atlas was rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city; 25 on the highway. City fuel economy for AWD models dropped by a single mpg; highway mpg fell to 23.

Now we know how much money you can save by purchasing the front-wheel-drive-only Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T, which suffers a loss of 41 horsepower but generates very nearly as much torque as the V6 (258 lb-ft) and does so 1,150-rpm closer to idle.

Not surprisingly, a small, modern, turbocharged engine is barely more efficient than the larger, naturally aspirated V6. Read More >

By on August 21, 2017

money (401(k) 2012/Flickr)

There’s few things people living in the U.S. can agree on, but one of those things is the state of American road infrastructure. For the most part, it sucks. Eisenhower’s long gone, but his network of interstate highways, plus the spiderweb of two-lane roadways cross-crossing every corner of America haven’t grown better with age.

Meanwhile, the U.S. federal gas tax remains unchanged since its last hike in 1993. Still locked at 18.4 cents per gallon, the infrastructure funding shortfall created by the static federal tax is spurring states to pass their own gas tax increases. Michigan, California, and — controversially — New Jersey are among the most recent examples.

Still, boosting prices at the pumps only works if drivers still visit those pumps. What of the coming self-driving car wave, the vanguard of which are high-tech electric vehicles piloted by mere humans? Enter the taxman and his slim book of ideas. Read More >

By on August 14, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox - Image: ChevroletGeneral Motors’ expectation that the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel would climb to the arbitrarily important 40 miles per gallon marker will not be fulfilled by the production Equinox.

In accordance with Environmental Protection Agency procedures, the Equinox 1.6TD comes up short of the 40-mpg highway marker by a single mpg.  Read More >

By on August 14, 2017

gearshift stick shift manual transmission (public domain)

In this day and age, when a “coupe” often means a four-door SUV and automatics, DCTs, and CVTs perform almost all gear-shifting duties, it’s nice to see a patent from a major mainstream automaker concerning a manual transmission.

However, Toyota’s recent patent for an electronic tranny nanny might spark worry that the three-pedal experience, as endangered as it is, could become watered down by technology. A manual transmission that doesn’t let you make mistakes? Who’s in charge here? Read More >

By on August 11, 2017

pumping fuel

While the Trump administration continues gearing itself up to loosen fuel standards for automakers, much to the chagrin of environmentalists and other countries, the agencies that set those benchmarks want to pick your brain a little before making a final decision. You’ve got an opportunity to be part of the process — the painfully boring, yet incredibly important, process.

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation opened a public comment period on the reconsideration of the standards for greenhouse gas emissions for light vehicles built for the 2022-2025 model years. Additionally, the EPA wants comments on the appropriateness of the existing 2021 standards. The agencies are inviting the public to submit any relevant (i.e. factual) data and information that can inform a final decision of the standards.  Read More >

By on August 9, 2017

2017 Mazda 3 - Image: MazdaMazda announced on August 8th what had long been rumored. The small Japanese automaker has successfully overcome the remaining issues which held at bay mass production of gasoline compression ignition.

Essentially, Mazda’s Skyactiv-X engines, due first in the next-generation 2019 Mazda 3, is intended to bring diesel-like ignition to small, supercharged four-cylinder engines, along with diesel-like fuel economy. However, the gas-fired Skyactiv-X engines will be wildly cleaner than diesel powerplants. Mazda has said in the past that these HCCI engines will likely limit the need for continuously variable transmissions. We also learned, with Mazda’s latest pronouncement, that the company’s Skyactiv-X engines will be significantly torquier than their Skyactiv-G predecessors.

If Mazda can live up to its pronouncements — the company says the engines are “still under development and figures are subject to change” — it’ll be a win for both the environment and driving enthusiasts. And because Mazda also claims a 20-30-percent improvement in fuel efficiency, it’ll be a win for your bank account, as well.

We wanted to see exactly where Mazda’s alleged fuel savings will put Mazda’s current products on the EPA’s miles per gallon scale, so here are the results of some quick math. Read More >

By on August 8, 2017

Mazda CX9 Skyactiv Turbo engine - Image: Mazda

There’ll still be spark ignition available, but Mazda doesn’t expect you’ll get a whole lot of use out of it. With its just-revealed Skyactiv-X engine technology, the gasoline-loving automaker has added a new way of making power to the automotive realm: the compression ignition gas engine.

It’s something we’ve known about for a while, but today saw its confirmation. Mazda’s Skyactiv-X engine, bound for its vehicle lineup in 2019, adopts technology forever associated with diesel engines and combines it with a lighter, much cleaner fuel. Apparently, going green needn’t require batteries and AC motors. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Bugatti Chiron, Front, Image: BugattiThe Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 debuted in 2005 to spec sheet acclaim. On paper, there had never been anything like it. 16 cylinders, four turbos, 987 horsepower.

And 10 miles per gallon of premium gasoline.

The 2018 Bugatti Chiron is a better car, as it should be after more than a decade passed between development cycles. There are still 16 cylinders and four turbos, but Bugatti increased the power (having intermittently done so during the Veyron’s tenure) to 1,500 horses.

That 52 percent increase in power is not quite matched by a commensurate improvement in the distance travelled per gallon of premium gasoline. Not quite. Read More >

By on July 8, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Volt

If the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius are presented as solutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it may be a toss-up as to which one wins.

This is according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fueleconomy.gov website, which lets consumers determine tailpipe plus upstream emission. The difference on a nationally averaged basis is negligible, while regional variations see one car or the other pulling ahead. Read More >

By on June 29, 2017

fuel gauge

A recent study from Consumers Union — the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports — shows continued interest among U.S. residents in seeing automakers improve fuel economy figures, even as gas prices remain fairly low.

While this should come as a shock to no one, nearly nine in 10 surveyed consumers agreed automakers should continue improving fuel efficiency standards on all vehicles. As well, only 30 percent believed manufacturers actually cared about lowering fuel costs for their customers.

This might be true but, then again, why would automakers do such a thing when the general populace has essentially turned its back on economical passenger cars? With little incentive to sell them, especially if the Trump administration alters 2025 emission targets, any top-tier automaker focusing exclusively on building MPG-focused automobiles would be placing itself at major financial risk.

The survey indicated fuel economy as the area perceived to possess the most room for improvement in modern vehicles. However, consumers have not used their wallets to bolster economy car sales. There appears to be a disparity between what the public claims to value and how it actually behaves. At a minimum, consumers may have misunderstood everything it would take to see fleet-wide fuel consumption decline. If they want to see higher MPGs, they’re going to have to make some sacrifices and the survey doesn’t allude to that fact.  Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Jaguar XF, Image: Jaguar Land Rover

The engineers at Jaguar have crafted a new engine for the automaker, essentially filling in the last power gap in the brand’s lineup. Carrying the Ingenium name and a 30t badge, the automaker’s latest in-house mill is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder designed to fill the space between the automaker’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel and 3.0-liter supercharged V6.

What kind of power, speed and fuel economy will this bring to the 2018 XE, XF and F-Pace, you asl? Jaguar has provided us with the answers. Read More >

By on June 17, 2017

2017 Audi Q7 blue front

Audi’s European introduction of the beastly SQ7 SUV caused no shortage of speculation last year. Even as Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal raged, many hoped the raw power of the SQ7’s cutting-edge diesel engine would be enough to compel Audi to bring the model stateside.

Waiting followed. Then, even more waiting. Audi told excited journos it hadn’t greenlit the model for a U.S. launch, despite its very marketable 435 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque — power made possible by 4.0 liters of displacement, two turbochargers and a lightning-quick electric supercharger.

Late last year, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess put the chill on expectations, telling everyone it wasn’t likely they’d ever see a new diesel Volkswagen product in the United States. This, despite current advancements in diesel technology. It now seems any hesitation the automaker might have felt about that proclamation has evaporated.

Diesels? Dream on. Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan - Image: VolkswagenVolkswagen of America is launching an all-new, second-generation, 2018 Tiguan in the summer of 2017. That’s the new new Tiguan.

But there’s also an old new Tiguan. Volkswagen is calling it the Tiguan Limited. Despite the major advances underpinning the new new Tiguan — it’s an MQB platform crossover with way more length, a third row of seats, and a dramatically different interior — the old new Tiguan will benefit from a significant update for 2018, as well.

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Limited will send power to its front or all four wheels via a new eight-speed automatic, just like the new new Tiguan.

And with a new eight-speed automatic comes new fuel economy figures, something the old old Tiguan could have used years ago. Read More >

By on June 5, 2017

2017 Buick LaCrosse rear - Image: Buick

There was plenty to like about Buick’s heavily revised 2017 Buick LaCrosse when it debuted last year, but the shrinking passenger car market rubbed some of the shine off the full-sizer’s standard features and newfound efficiency. It also propelled sales further downhill.

Buick isn’t resting on its laurels for the generation’s sophomore year. For 2018, Buick’s eAssist mild hybrid system returns to the LaCrosse after a year’s absence, joined by a new transmission in V6-powered models and a starting price designed to lure more buyers into the showroom. Read More >

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