By on December 13, 2012


Demand for fuel-efficient vehicles remains strong, and the fleet of newly bought cars is taking to the streets getting a better mileage on average than a year before. The cars sold by Hyundai/Kia are most miserly with their fuel, with Volkswagen close behind. Automobiles from Detroit on the other hand stay thirsty. This is the result of TrueCar’s TrueMPG survey.

Average MPG Average Car MPG Average Truck MPG
Nov’12 Nov’11 YoY Nov’12 Nov’11 YoY Nov’12 Nov’11 YoY
Hyundai/Kia 26.8 26.4 0.4 28.6 28.3 0.4 23.0 23.0 0.0
Volkswagen 26.7 26.1 0.6 28.0 27.3 0.7 22.1 21.8 0.3
Honda 25.9 24.2 1.8 29.7 28.4 1.3 22.5 21.1 1.4
Toyota 24.4 24.2 0.1 30.1 29.7 0.4 19.2 19.3 -0.1
Nissan 23.5 23.1 0.5 28.2 26.4 1.8 20.0 19.5 0.5
Industry 23.2 22.3 0.9 27.5 26.3 1.1 19.8 19.4 0.4
Ford 22.4 21.4 1.0 28.8 26.1 2.7 19.7 19.6 0.2
GM 21.1 20.4 0.7 25.3 24.9 0.4 18.9 18.5 0.4
Chrysler 19.9 19.5 0.5 23.7 22.4 1.3 18.3 18.2 0.0

The sales-weighted survey determines the average MPG by associating the number of actual cars sold with their EPA rating.

When we publish these numbers, howls of protests ensue, and we hear complaints that carmakers who sell lots of trucks get penalized. Well, that’s the point. Fuel efficient cars can only help make us independent from foreign oil and spare the atmosphere additional harm if they get bought.

As inconvenient as it may sound, automobiles sold by the Detroit 3 are doing – on average – a substandard job.

However, TrueCar also broke it out by segments, and if you like BIG TRUCKS, then you will find solace in the fact that Ford and GM sell gas guzzlers with some of the best sales averaged mileage, whereas Toyota’s and Nissan’s behemoths  suck bigtime.

Avrg Small Car MPG Avrg Midsize Car MPG Avrg Large Truck MPG
Manufacturer Nov’12 Nov’11 YoY Nov’12 Nov’11 YoY Nov’12 Nov’11 YoY
Chrysler 31.3 25.1 6.2 23.9 23.9 0.0 15.8 15.7 0.1
Ford 34.0 32.2 1.8 29.5 26.6 2.9 17.3 17.4 -0.2
GM 29.8 31.3 -1.5 26.2 25.7 0.5 17.0 17.0 0.0
Honda 31.9 32.5 -0.6 28.5 25.8 2.7 17.2 16.9 0.3
Hyundai/Kia 30.9 30.6 0.3 27.8 27.5 0.3  N/A  N/A  N/A
Mazda 30.9 28.3 2.5 24.2 24.9 -0.7  N/A  N/A  N/A
Mitsubishi 25.5 25.6 -0.1 24.3 24.3 0.0  N/A  N/A  N/A
Nissan 32.3 31.3 0.9 28.0 25.0 3.0 14.3 14.2 0.0
Subaru 26.5 20.5 6.1 25.5 24.2 1.3  N/A  N/A  N/A
Suzuki  N/A  N/A N/A 25.0 25.1 -0.1  N/A  N/A  N/A
Toyota 34.5 35.1 -0.6 28.3 27.4 0.9 15.5 15.6 -0.1
Volkswagen 30.8 30.6 0.2 29.4 27.3 2.1  N/A  N/A  N/A
Industry 31.8 31.7 0.1 27.6 26.0 1.5 16.8 16.8 0.0

And speaking of trucks, Jesse Toprak, Senior Analyst at TrueCar, expects ” to see TrueMPG dip in December as more consumers snap up larger SUVs and trucks.”

Disclosure: While the author lived in the U.S.A., he drove a Ford Expedition, ostensibly to “pull the boat.” The 90 mph race boat gave him 1 mpg at WOT.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

52 Comments on “Survey Says: Detroit Can’t Shake The Drinking Habit – Blame The Enablers!...”

  • avatar

    I applaud TTAC for becoming so green and having deep concern for our mother earth.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete K

      Except for their overall disdain for Hybrids and EV’s.

      Seriously, this places hates Detroit. I thoroughly dislike Detroit and the Big 3, but this writer is just ridiculous…

      • 0 avatar

        Bertel doesn’t hate Detroit, he just has a different perspective from many of us as he isn’t from here (and is from Germany).

      • 0 avatar

        I think that this graph is great because it breaks things down. you can see that Ford actually does a pretty good job with its cars, although that may change when the EPA downgrades them….

        Yall need to stop hating on dat boi Bertell, he’s much smarter and well educated about this than yall are, hes been in the industry for decades and has great experience in both Germany and Japan. He’s been behind the scenes while yall have been groaning on your computers.

        Facts are facts — how can you give a chart bias???????????????

        Look, the Big Three are nice enough, but they’re not infallible and yall all know that. TTAC reports it like it is. Chrysler especially has been having a good run lately — see their sales. GM hasn’t — see the disastrous malibu launch and mishandling of its fullsize trucks launch. These are like the two most important sectors that GM has. How can TTAC NOT write about something like that??

      • 0 avatar


        I’m going to reply to this but feel my reply is going to put me on VERY thin ice with the TTAC gods.

        I generally agree with you, and if Bertel was a contributor I would agree with you on his perspective is driven more by his European roots and from traveling the world. I find these things admirable (traveling the world) and I have found those that have perspective beyond their metaphorical shores are more intelligent, and more well rounded people. I know I am a better human being after seeing first hand what third world problems, like what am I going to eat today and where am I going to sleep, are truly like.

        But, Bertel isn’t a contributor. He is our fearless leader. It would bode well for the editorial staff to listen to their readers, aka customers. I am seeing posts by the B&B by people I consider perennial Detroit bashers, and even they are saying, “enough.”

        Just like a car company that doesn’t listen to customer feedback, any company, even a respected blog, runs a risk of becoming irrelevant if they don’t listen to their customers.

        There have been some very well written, well thought out pieces here slamming Detroit – and Detroit has plenty of reasons to be beat up. Ten years ago Detroit provided a laugh a minute.

        But post US election the volume has become huge, the tone shrill, the headlines Jalopnik-worthy in sensationalism, and some of the research, suspect at best. To my last point the phrase in this story that says, “As inconvenient as it may sound, automobiles sold by the Detroit 3 are doing – on average – a substandard job,” is in fact, completely inaccurate. If you look at the data, Ford is leading midsize cars, fullsize trucks and is only 1/2 MPG behind Toyota for second place, and over 4 MPG over the average for small cars. That’s substandard??? That’s the best MPG of anyone on the chart when you look at the three stats as a whole. This is not the kind of writing I expect from TTAC.

        I hope this isn’t taken as a public condemnation – it isn’t my intent — but I do hope the editorial staff will stand back, look at the post-election content that is being created and at least consider, CONSIDER, the growing public customer feedback that it’s growing old.

        I genuinely like this site. I genuinely like many of the B&B posters here, even the ones I disagree with. I would genuinely love to have a beer with Jack, or Derick (sorry if I spelled that wrong), and some of the B&B. I think we could have GREAT conversations. But this endless drum beat of Detroit = Union = Obama = Destroy the Planet = Big Oil = Evil = DIE! DIE! DIE! is getting really, REALLY old.

        Call me sappy, but I miss the objective car reviews – stress objective, not the puffery the car magazines provide. For what ever regrettable reason, TTAC writers wear it like a badge of honor that they don’t get invited to press events and don’t have access to press cars. OK, 12 or 18 months ago I would agree its a badge of honor. But if the feedback be damned approach was given to Detroit, I can see why you don’t have access to press cars.

        I miss the sporadic car ads analysis that has done – and my offer to do it as Ed and I agreed to (and then for some odd reason Ed must have wrote 10 car ad analysis within a month leaving me scratching my head on what I should do or why) and looking at them objectively from a marketing stand point.

        I LOVE the information on other nations car markets – but I’m starting to wonder how objective those views are.

        I LOVE LOVE LOVE the junkyard finds. I miss Curbside Classics (know why it went away and get it).

        I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED the short lived series on going to a junkyard and doing the time and photo essay to figure out which car would be harder to work on when it comes to extracting a key part.

        This site has not ended up on best blog lists by accident. But this extension of NewsMax that TTAC is becoming is growing incredibly old.

        Ya, don’t read the stories – and that would be my – well if you don’t like it, don’t read it response if I was the editor (to be honest). But look at the stuff in the last 72 hours – not a whole lot left NOT to read if you don’t want to see things through a political slant not steeped in historical or industry fact.

        Hey, if this gets me banned so be it. My intent was not to insult – but to appeal to the editorial staff. That doesn’t mean we want/expect/desire a lovefest for all things car. I’m not expecting a 1,000 word missive throwing flowers at the feet of a 2013 Malibu Eco or 500 words on why the 4-speed automatic in a Toyota Corolla is actually a modern technological wonder that would make a Mercedes Benz 7-speed auto jealous. Call a terd a terd. You guys are AWESOME at that – but I believe you have an OBLIGATION as a respected authority to be objective and factually accurate. Color me old fashioned in our dead tree publications are dying world.

        Your customers are talking to you, in a pretty clear voice, I would recommend listening to them.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with everything you said APaGttH. It sure has changed, here, more in the past year than it did in the 4 years prior that I was visiting here. With that said, it’s still a site I visit multiple times a day.

    • 0 avatar

      @ APaGttH
      Unfortunately I do agree with your comments.
      I believe your concerns were well written and presented in a positive manner.

      I hope that future articles can be informative and well written without the slanted bias and slight of words. The site should be a good source for accurate information, free wheeling commentary, and some entertainment.

      The credibility of this site is at stake if this continues.

  • avatar

    I considered buying a Prius, until I learned from this series of articles that the Landcruiser and Tundra sales reduced its fuel economy.

  • avatar

    The breakdown is much improved over last analysis. Good work.

  • avatar

    Good to see data. I am surprised by the comment “As inconvenient as it may sound, automobiles sold by the Detroit 3 are doing – on average – a substandard job.”
    When Ford cars (all three sizes) are more efficient than Toyota, Honda, Nissan, VW and H/K equivalents, it seems they are doing a good job. GM and Chrysler have a ways to go though.

    • 0 avatar

      Detroit bashing has become quite fashionable – even if Ford is beating the averages and in the above beating everyone on small and midsize except Toyota small.

      Ford is a 1/2 mile beyond Toyota in small cars with 34.0 MPG (Toyota on top at 34.5) and is on top in Mid-size.

      But hey, that’s substandard compared to Mazda, Nissan and Honda. Shame on you Ford!!! ;-)

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks, I had missed the 0.5mpg difference for small cars. Ford is only one of the three (or 2.5 if you prefer) but it still shows progress.

        One question – does the H/K data included there new “procedurally adjusted” EPA figures, or is it based on their old incorrect/fraudulent data?

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        I went past a local Ford dealer in Richardson, TX and the front row of vehicles facing the highway were all trucks and CUVs. Ford does offer some small fuel efficient cars, but the dealer emphasized their F-150s and Edges to the public driving by. To be fair, the buying public here may be voting with their wallets for Ford to be primarily a truck supplier.

        The percentage fuel economy improvements for full size pickup trucks have been impressive. In terms of reducing total gasoline consumption, more efficient V6 engines in the top selling F-150 is much more significant than improving the already low fuel consumption of the lower volume Toyota Prius.

      • 0 avatar

        Fords mileage claims have been overstated and are likely to go down a notch, but even if ford actually had fantastic mileage it doesn’t matter, the title is still relatively accurate. It’s 2 out of three — you can say that a majority of American carmakers need to improve

  • avatar

    VW’s numbers are due to their diesel sales. Since a barrel of crude yields half as much diesel as gasoline, I wonder where they would rank if the ratings were adjusted for ‘miles per barrel’ of their respective fuels.

  • avatar

    Chrysler ads in Canada proudly state that their pickup trucks (Ram) get 36 MPG. Yes I’m serious, and no, no-one calls them on it.

    • 0 avatar

      As long as all vehicles in Canada are rated to the same standards, even if the results don’t reflect real world results, they at least serve as a comparison tool between various models.

      My alarm clock and the clock in my car are both set 8 minutes fast. Ostensibly I do this so that I won’t be late anywhere, but I know they’re 8 minutes fast so I just adjust when I leave accordingly…

    • 0 avatar

      Relevant to this discussion.

    • 0 avatar

      The Imperial gallon is 20 percent larger than the American gallon. I’m still not buying 36 mpg.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem isn’t that the stated fuel economy is too high its the gallon used to measure it is too big. It has become common practice in Canada too use the larger Canadian gallon to state a vehicles MPG which makes comparison to US ads impossible.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t believe that’s the problem. I believe it is a test, similar to CAFE, which isn’t calibrated to give a semblance to the real world unlike the EPA numbers which at least make an attempt to do so.

        The same problem can be seen with Japan’s & Europe’s numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Is that 36 mpg achieved down hill with a stiff tailwind and the jib sail unfurled?

    • 0 avatar

      But that is 36 miles to the imperial gallon, which is 4.4 liters, and is bigger than the US gallon at 3.7 liters (rough numbers). And no one is actually going to get 36 miles to imperial gallon either. But that explains some of the difference.

  • avatar

    The differences between min and max:

    Small cars: 30%

    Mid-size cars: 23%

    Large trucks: 21%

    That’s pretty tight grouping, considering the various needs of the market, met by numerous design methodologies.

  • avatar

    How is it that Toyota scores worse than Ford in Total Truck MPG. Don’t they sell mostly smaller Tacomas?

    Edit: And what is “Large” Truck?

    • 0 avatar

      Large truck…


      I would speculate only models required to provide EPA MPG figures are included. So the F-350, Silverado 3500, Ram 1-ton, etc. etc. are not in the data.

      Ya, I know, laughable about the Ridgeline but I didn’t create the survey above.

  • avatar

    Avrg Large Truck MPG
    Nov’12 Nov’11 YoY
    17.2 16.9 0.3

    What is this “large truck” of Honda’s?

  • avatar

    “Fuel efficient cars can only help make us independent from foreign oil and spare the atmosphere additional harm if they get bought.”
    Who do you mean by “us”? Germany, Japan, or China? According to your bio, you don’t live in the USA.

  • avatar

    “Fuel efficient cars can only help make us independent from foreign oil and spare the atmosphere additional harm if they get bought.”

    Uh huh.

    Two, two, two chimeras in one statement.

    Remind me to buy a gas-hogging V8 when I get my next car, if *that’s* the reasoning behind fuel economy.

  • avatar

    I would like to see this same spreadsheet worked up using real world data from TrueDelta or Fuelly instead of EPA. What say you, Michael Karesh? can this be done?

  • avatar

    Quote: The cars sold by Hyundai/Kia are most miserly with their fuel.

    Is that before or after there mileage ratings were adjusted for over inflated figures on some of there main vehicles like the Sonata and Elantra.

    • 0 avatar

      Just to clarify. The EPA City, Highway and combined MPG numbers for the Hyundai Sonata with the 2.4L GDI engine remain as they’ve been since the most recent version of this model was launched back in 2010. They are not subject to revision or the Hyundai EPA/MPG reimbursement program as noted on the Hyundai website.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    My local Ford dealer has more unsold Fiestas on its lot than pinatas at a Mexican party store.

    • 0 avatar

      My local Toyota dealer has more corollas on thier lot than….

      The Honda dealership I drive by has more civics on thier lot than….

      Its called “INVENTORY”, dealers kind of have to have it to sell it and sometimes when they have a lot of something its because a lot of people are buying them so they want to have what the customer might want already there as to not lose said customer.

      And usually there is only one pinata at a Mexican party so that dealer is probably doing quite well, jesus.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Skimmed the article, went straight to the comments. Companies that make big trucks have worse overall mpg than companies that don’t. I’ve seen other versions of this story. Yet big trucks are consistent top sellers in the US. Sometimes you need a big truck; sometimes you want a big truck. I don’t see those factors and corresponding sales changing very soon.

  • avatar

    my fnd wons Prius 1st & 2nd gen, he said 1st gen uses less juice than 2nd!

    wonder if she had gained wt just like everybody else.

    wt is a bad thing for all of us. it doesnt belong in our body or car.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This article strikes me as a pretty significant misuse of statistics, since it equates consumer purchasing preference with company vehicle offerings.
    A more accurate summary would be that US consumers who buy small cars prefer those made by foreign brands than those made by the “Detroit 3.” And that US consumers who prefer large cars prefer those made by the Detroit 3 than those made by foreign brands, in part, no doubt, because the foreign brands are considerably more expensive.

    It is interesting to see that the moralizing busybodies who landed with John Winthrop and formed the Massachusetts Bay colony have descendants who live on under the banner of “green.”

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. Consumer purchase patterns no more measure efficiency than sales of Coke & Pepsi indicate which is healthier.

      Efficiency is an intrinsic characteristic of a car. Sales are a metric of the car and the consumer, so using that contaminates the measurement of the car.

      Here’s what’s curious: There are so many easier ways to do this analysis that are better, why does BS keep pushing it? I don’t think he’s clueless, so I don’t believe he doesn’t see its flaws, yet he publishes it anyway.

      • 0 avatar

        “There are so many easier ways to do this analysis that are better, why does BS keep pushing it?”

        1. It’s a quick and easy story to write (take data from another source, twist it up into knots, serve hot).

        2. It’s inflammatory.

  • avatar

    How long do most consumers keep their car? 5 years? 10 years?

    What do you the readers expect gasoline to cost at 5 years and 10 years from today?

  • avatar

    Detroit’s best models are the big V8s. It is what they always have done best. What do you expect? If you buy a Silverado/F150/Camaro/etc and complain about the MPG, you bought the wrong vehicle.

  • avatar

    “When we publish these numbers, howls of protests ensue, and we hear complaints that carmakers who sell lots of trucks get penalized. Well, that’s the point. Fuel efficient cars can only help make us independent from foreign oil and spare the atmosphere additional harm if they get bought.”

    About time that you own up to it.

    Till you get the American buying public to change from wanting large vehicles, these numbers are going to remain high for the manufactures that sell large vehicles in volume. And there is a ton of money to be made there. Don’t blame Detroit for that.

    If you want to talk about the MPG that is in the small car and midsize car and say that Detroit needs to do better, I would say no, Chrysler and GM need to do better. Ford looks to be doing well there.

    But punishing a manufacture for selling what the public buys… that is not something to be touting.

    • 0 avatar

      @Brian: “GM need to do better. Ford looks to be doing well there.”

      This is the problem with using sales weighted MPG numbers. In the small car segment for example, it shows Ford has an MPG average of 34 while GM, 29.8, even though the Sonic, Spark and Cruze are just as efficient if not more than Ford’s offerings. The reason being, GM sells a lot more Sonics than Ford sells Fiestas and Ford doesn’t have a Spark competitor. Taller, shorter hatchbacks are always less fuel efficient than regular compacts like the Focus and Cruze. So, Ford with a higher percentage of Focus sales in its small car segment leads GM which has a lower percentage of Cruze sales. I suspect the Verano is also included into GM’s numbers by truecar. It obviously gets less fuel economy being a premium compact and Lincoln doesn’t offer anything in that size class.

  • avatar

    My gas guzzling Ford/Chevy/Ram doesn’t suck as bad as your gas guzzing Toyota and or Nissan. Whoo-hoo we’re number one! We’re number one!

  • avatar

    Another pointless rehash of this data. VW and Hyundai would kill to have this “gas sucking” problem. Data shows Big Three more than competitive model to model. I guess the post-restructuring love is gone and the even the so-called insider sources are back to the tired and repeated Big Three suck mantra. Such a shame…

  • avatar

    As to Detroit’s OEMs being a bit less efficient, well, culture still has lots to do with it, perhaps?

    As I see it, the “foreign” (non-Detroit) brands design to the prevailing conditions in their home country. Taxed based on horsepower, number of cylinders, doors, wheels – I don’t know all the details nor do I care to.

    Domestic OEMs are certainly myopic and have always been, though progress has been made in many areas. They will never equal the overseas brands for efficiency, though, again, “culture”. Why else would they use re-branded imports for their small offerings?

    Here’s my case in point: For over 8 years I owned a 2004 Impala with the 3.4L. On my current commute, I averaged over 30 mpg and got as high as 35.33 mpg going just back and forth to work. I sell it. I buy a new 2012 Impala with the 3.6L. My average fuel economy? Oh…anywhere between 26.5 – 29. One caveat: We also owned a third vehicle I used for running about town, keeping the old Impala strictly for commuting. We sold that, too. I use my new ride for all my around-town running, so that does impact mpgs. Still, all things being equal, my car is a bit less efficient than my old one, however it’s a much nicer and certainly a much more powerful car, so I guess it all equals out in the long run.

    As far as TTAC bashing Detroit, this is something car mags have done for almost 50 years. As I said before, prevailing conditions – meaning regulations, cost of living and other factors in other countries are the influence on how cars are designed and built. Things are much different in the USA. It’s all about culture – still.

    Hope that makes some sort of sense. If not, let the beatings begin!

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Makes sense to me. A lot of us on this blog will order the fastest version of our vehicle, be it a turbo or GASP the biggest engine. The US is a very different market than the rest of the world. I’ll be making an 11-12 hour drive to celebrate Christmas with my family. I make several 6 hour drives a year to visit family and go to the beach. Different driving habits call for different types of vehicles. BTW I loved my Miata and it still got great gas mileage even when I hooned it.

  • avatar

    Almost everything Bertel writes on this site is Detroit bashing. So I take this with a grain of salt.

    Why shed a tear (or waste an article) over 2 or 3 MPG? We get it. Americans depend on oil and we always have. This is not news. The Big Three, while still thirsty, could be doing a lot worse. Look at how much better their fuel economy has gotten in the past few years alone.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • dal20402: The styling has been incredibly hit or miss. The Telluride and Palisade were hits, the K5 and Sonata pretty...
  • SCE to AUX: That explains why H/K’s sales drop off in the winter.
  • Astigmatism: It’s obviously double the quality. They pass the savings on to you!
  • stuki: Crossovers not sucking, is a symptom of speed limits being too low. Nothing more, nothing less. Lower speed...
  • stuki: When where you drive requires lots of speed changes: The combination of a rather slow shifting transmission,...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber