By on September 5, 2014

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Fuel Economy Display, 49MPG, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s monthly United States new-car fuel economy report is out, and it’s a doozy: August 2014 saw an all-time high of 25.8 mpg.

Automotive News reports the figure is the highest recorded since UMTRI began calculating averages in October of 2007, when the average then was 20.1 mpg. The most recent peak came in May, when the average was 25.7 mpg before dropping to 25.5 mpg the following month.

As for greenhouse emissions, the institute’s Eco-Driving Index fell to 0.78 in June, tying the record low first calculated in November 2013. The metric posits the lower the number — beginning at 1 in October 2007 — the lower the emissions.

EDI_mpg_August-2014

EDI_June-2014

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61 Comments on “August 2014 US New-Car Fuel Economy Hits All-Time High Of 25.8 MPG...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    Can we get a graphic on total $ spent on gasoline/diesel over the same time frame?

    High fuel prices combined with new CAFE standards has worked to shift people to more fuel efficient cars, but are these new cars saving us any money?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      dwford,
      Keep in mind that top chart shows NEW car MPG, whereas what you are looking for is a combination of miles driven, fuel pricing and MPG for the population of vehicles out there. New vehicles (i.e., those sold in a given year) are less than 10% of the overall population of vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        True, but these charts are 7 year charts, so the newer high mpg cars are having an increasing effect. The automakers with telematics systems like GM, Hyundai etc, could easily offer the data I’m looking for. GM already has reported how many electric only miles Volts have been driven etc..

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        A report on how road planning & maintenance affects achieved fuel economy, miles driven, & total consumption would be very interesting. Congestion, poor traffic control (i.e., mistimed lights, lack of turn lanes, etc.), lack of sufficient alternate routes, etc., have a huge effect on real-world fuel consumption. Cars are more efficient–and that’s awesome–but are we working just as hard to make the system where they’re used equally efficient? After all, even the least efficient & polluting truck uses less fuel in a well-designed community. As I look around my area and see things designed by people who seemingly couldn’t get any other job, I rather doubt it.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      “are these new cars saving us any money?”

      Given the general upward trend of fuel prices, yes, we’re saving money in relative terms by using less fuel, even if we pay the same or more in absolute numbers compared to what we paid in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        True, but the cost of cars (and many other things) had risen sharply and wages have not kept pace. So we’re saving slightly more fuel but paying more for it in terms of wages/earnings.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Not sure about that. We are paying more for cars, on average, but that’s because we are getting richer.
          Cars are actually pretty cheap these days.

          Put it another way: 9 of the top 10 selling cars start under $30k with loads of standard equipment, and yet the average selling price is well over 30. Affordability is not the issue, we are willingly paying more than we need to.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “we are getting richer”

            “Keep Obama in President, you know… he gave us a phone, he gonna do more.”

            And lo, she was right.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “we are getting richer”

            Where’s my check?

            Seriously though, “we” are not getting “richer”, simply a small percentage has gained a significant amount of wealth in a short time. Wages for the rest of we proles have not kept up with the rising costs of most commodities and other products such as automobiles. Remember: “I can’t eat an Ipad” still applies.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      dwford: “High fuel prices combined with new CAFE standards has worked to shift people to more fuel efficient cars, but are these new cars saving us any money?”

      It’s true that if something becomes less expensive (e.g., cost per mile), we will generally use more of it but there are a lot of variables around that.

      While one could take advantage of lower gas prices to drive more:

      – Each additional mile is still additional money, so there’s a disincentive.
      – Driving takes time, how much more time does one want to spend driving?
      – Where would one go? At many destinations, one would spend more money. Driving is limited by other budgetary concerns.

      So, in general, lower fuel prices or better fuel economy is likely to reduce fuel expense.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        My general question was really has the increased average fuel economy offset the increased price of gas, assuming miles driven stays basically the same, which according to the blue line has been the case.

        According to a chart on GasBuddy, the ave price of gas in the fall of 2007 was about $2.60, compared to $3.40 now.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Kelley

      This was never about saving us peons money. It is all about giving the trust-funded Sierra Clubbers what they want. They want us to pay European-level gas prices, too.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        So many lies, Mike Kelley, so many lies.

        You do realize that both the EPA and CAFE were enacted by Republican presidents, right?

        And you also realize that improving fuel economy frees US citizens from wars to guarantee the flow of oil from the Middle East, right?

        And you understand that improving fuel economy reduces the air pollution all Americans suffer from, don’t you?

        Now can you explain why anyone with a trust fund would carry a club to hit the Sierra with? What does that accomplish?

        • 0 avatar
          Mike Kelley

          The EPA, like most government agencies, seemed like a good idea at the time. Air quality in American cites was terrible back then, so of course the beltway had to invent a bureaucracy to “fix” the problem. Over time, however, the EPA, like all such agencies, turned into an out of control, job-killings machine. Meanwhile, our air quality has improved greatly and is still improving. I’d say the Clean Air Act and advancing technology deserve the credit.

          As for CAFE freeing us from wars, I doubt it. The US is now the world’s leader in oil production due to the fracking revolution on private lands, but the left is trying to stop that. I shudder to think what surprises the Middle East will bring us across our wide-open Southern border, too. Might be war.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    OT: Am I going to have to hear/see the same auto play ad for Allstate every single time I come here, multiple times a day? Getting very annoying.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      So FREAKIN’ annoying.

    • 0 avatar

      This site has ads? I didn’t even realize. You should probably get an ad-blocker for your browser. I’m using Adblock Plus for Firefox. It also blocks things like advertisements in YouTube videos, which I didn’t even realize was a thing until I saw it on a friend’s computer…

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Ditto. I’ve had to mute my system. For the sys admin, I’m running Chrome Version 37.0.2062.103 thru Comcast.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Ghostery does such a good job of blocking unwanted trackers, beacons, widgets and aggressive, erroneous advertisements it routinely breaks many major sites for me; I’ve been blissfully unaware of the existence of ads on this site.

      This is a problem, as I do wish to support this site’s continued existence in a manner which does not include intrusive code or ad services.

      If a direct donation button were supplied for elective use, I’d gladly send monies to the appropriate service as a means of directly voting for its content.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      an innocent man, I’m using Adblock Plus with the Pale Moon x64 browser. Both are free. No annoying Allstate ad seen here.

      https://adblockplus.org/en/firefox

      http://www.palemoon.org/palemoon-x64.shtml

  • avatar
    Duaney

    With gas prices at $3.50-$4.00 per gal, 25.8 mph is pretty sorry. Vastly better fuel economy is available from many of the new vehicles, but this proves that most motorists don’t give a damn about gas prices, and continue to buy gas hogs.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      I would partially disagree with you – people care quite a lot about COMPLAINING ABOUT GAS PRICES, but in the end, the vehicles they choose reflect the fact that gas prices are only one financial aspect of owning a car, and not even the biggest one.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      It’s all relative, dude. 25.8 is a better average than 3 of the 5 cars our family owns, and I know for a fact it’s better than the average of most of our friends’ vehicles. And not only should the MPG be considered when comparing to, say, the Malaise Era landyachts that got 20 on the highway, but also the increased performance, efficiency, and all-around quality and value.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “With gas prices at $3.50-$4.00 per gal, 25.8 mph is pretty sorry. Vastly better fuel economy is available from many of the new vehicles, but this proves that most motorists don’t give a damn about gas prices.”

      Why should they? Have you paid any attention to what all the other aspects of owning a newish car cost lately? Once you get out of a 5,000 lb truck the marginal cost of gas from model to model is noise.

      At 3.50 a gallon and 12000 miles a year, dropping down a full size and dignity class to bump that to 30 mpg would save 19 bucks a month. Of the myriad costs that come with owning a new car that’s what, a 4% swing? Who even notices that, let alone cares?

      If greenbeans could do 4th grade math they wouldn’t be greenbeans.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        +1. Depreciation and other considerations have a much bigger impact on car running costs than gaining a few MPGs. Since the MPG scale is not linear the marginal returns get even less as efficiency improves and just about vanishes after 30 MPG.

        The psychological difference is that people don’t see depreciation costs every week but they see the cash they hand over at the pump so it seems more real to them.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    I was just wondering, is this 25.8 mpg average based only on the new “cars”, or are new trucks part of this equation? Cameron could enlighten us on this perhaps. If only based on new “cars”, then this average is really horrible.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Again, I would disagree.

      25.8 mpg might not sound like good fuel economy to you, but to me the fact that cars never shifted over to turbine engines is pretty depressing. Like Zhivago said, it’s all relative.

      The reality is a 25.8 mpg average. That’s better than 25 even, and it comes packaged with unprecedented power, quality and reliability, so I think it’s a pretty good number.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Turbines running at a narrow max efficiency RPM as a range extender is more compelling than turbines running inefficiently at variable RPMs. Assuming, of course, they also have emissions within statutory requirements.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        My 2014 Escape, I know I’m a broken record but provides a meaningful reference point for me, is rated 23/31/25 and weighs 3500. This compares against the Focus that my friend used to have, a 2007 model, which was rated 24/31/27 and weighed 2700 pounds.

        170hp for the Escape
        135hp for the Focus

        I’d say if I can get this mileage out of something that is vastly more comfortable, to me, and more useable (read transporting bulky stuff) to boot, something good is going on.

        I had Blazer, 1998, that could transport the same bulky stuff, but rarely got above 13 mpg. I also had a Focus, 2013, that could get 33 mpg, but couldn’t transport the bulky stuff.

        I traded both of these in for the Escape. My payment went down, my insurance went down, and my overall mileage went up.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Pending the answer to Duaney’s question… I was wondering how much of the increase would be due to:

      – Improved fuel economy of the best-sellers… Particularly the F-150 (about 1mpg across the range).

      – Downsizing, either to reduce operating costs or due to a desire to reduce overall auto expense. A Malibu is a lot less expensive to acquire and operate than a Silverado.

      Gas prices have been fairly stable, so it seems doubtful that fuel cost is the spur.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        My gut tells me that there is a fair amount of downsizing happening. People still like SUVs/crossovers, for example, but they have moved from Explorers or Pilots to Escapes and CR-Vs.

        In the passenger car market, you can get a Cruze, Focus, Civic or Corolla with a lot of bells-and-whistles.

        With an aging population, and more people retiring – both voluntarily and involuntarily – I can see people downsizing to save money and drive a vehicle that is easier to handle.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          Or even “up-sizing” as it were from cars to CUVs – as the population ages, it’s much easier to enter & exit a CUV than many cars.

          I know – I’m feeling it at 63½. That’s why I’m driving a 2012 Impala – much easier in and out. My next ride may be a CR-V or similar – Wifey loves her 2002.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      All light-duty vehicles are included in UMTRI’s calculation. So that will include most of the pickups, yes.

  • avatar
    George B

    My theory is that 1) car buyers remember sticker shock at the pump when they buy a new car and 2) the relatively fuel-efficient cars and trucks offered today aren’t the gutless penalty boxes of the Malaise Era. People think of the $5/gallon gasoline price spike of 2008 when buying and the 4-cylinder option generally no longer sucks. Lots of engineering work and incremental improvements have made pretty dramatic changes in fuel economy in two car generations.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “People think of the $5/gallon gasoline price spike of 2008”

      I sure do, and I expect it back anytime, plus worse. I was feeding a full-size pickup back then. Not now. Will never again buy more than 4 cylinders; don’t need to.

      I think that in times of endurable gas prices many forget just what a dominant deciding factor they can be.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        We need to get you a Daihatsu Move or the Mitsubishi eK wagon from earlier in the week.

        I want a Move AWD.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          OMG, would I rock an EK Space around here.

          At work I would either park with the lifted trucks and Jeeps or among the car guys with their Camaros, Challengers and the oddball fat-ass Genesis.

          We’re mostly a high-ridin’, huntin’, shootin’ and breedin’ community herebouts and I cherish my outcast status. An EK Space would be purrrfect.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            We need more weird vehicles, said this C-Max owner. I wish Ford would bring over the B-Max, but they would sell maybe 3 of them. Rear sliding doors with no B-pillars? Yes, please.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I second this. Even if its something I won’t care for at least its different and buyers have a legitimate choice other than silver FWD sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “I wish Ford would bring over the B-Max”

            Googled it, damn is that cool!

            Get all skunked up inside, you could air dat mofo out in a hurry!

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        The fuel price spike of 2008 was due to speculation, the underlying fundamentals would have supported a price very similar to today’s. The hedge funds are not very heavily “invested” in the energy markets right now, so we can enjoy actual market pricing.

        If and when the hedge funds and energy traders will return is anyone’s guess.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          That stuff’s as far outside my ability to comprehend as it is to control.

          All I can do to avoid another 2008 is personally burn less gas so that’s what I’m a-doin’.

          I think I just spoke for a pretty large demographic.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    The 25.8 mpg is meaningful only in relation to the older numbers.

    How is the number calculated? Is it the EPAs ‘composite’ for each car? Is it a straight average of all vehicle models, or weighted?

    In any case, the EPA numbers overstate mpg (though not as much as in the past).

    As others note here, the price of everything is rising. Gasoline is up 30% since 2007. Yet it is still cheap compared to what they pay in Europe and Asia–$9/gallon is quite common.

    The mileage standards are hard to meet, require increasingly expensive solutions (direct injection, aluminum, fuel pressure modules, etc) to increasingly smaller improvements.

    People may balk at paying more for this stuff–especially if they have less to spend because the price of consumables that we NEED (like food, fuel, utilities, medical, insurance) keeps rising, even if the latest computer with 2x the power costs the same.

    Also, new stuff has more problems. So I see a repeat of the malaise era, as future cars have more bugs for more money and more dissatisfaction than today’s models.

    But what really bugs me is this idiotic Allstate commercial! All these insurance commercials, actually. Commercials cost money. Insurers have lots of it, apparently. Oh, that’s one big reason my insurance is going up!

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      They do a weighted average of new vehicles sold based upon their EPA combined city/highway MPG.

      I’m not sure how they deal with the differences in various engine/transmission combinations, since that information is harder to get than the overall sales numbers. Perhaps they guesstimate it, but I don’t know.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        So it’s basically a story about how automakers have gotten better at gaming EPA tests, then?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          No, it’s mostly a story of downsizing. Fuel got expensive, some consumers reacted. Technological improvements help to explain some of it, too.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            If all the data set contains, are a bunch of EPA mileage numbers, with nothing about weight and size in them, how can it be a story about downsizing?

            I’m not denying that one possible way of playing the “boost epa mpg” game, is to make cars smaller. But is that what has happened? The biggest selling classes of cars, haven’t really seen any meaningful downsizing. Family sedans, Pickups…. Heck, the biggest gainers last month YoY was Jeep and Ram, so I’m not even sure the mix has skewed smaller. But maybe it has. Come to think of it, Hybrids are a much bigger part of the mix now.

            But performance cars, which is probably what most on this site knows the most about, sure hasn’t gotten any smaller and less powerful recently. The Hellcat may well have some clever code in the ecu for getting though the epa cycle in full starvation mode, but 707hp burnouts is still going to burn more fuel than the 485hp ones from last year.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “If all the data set contains, are a bunch of EPA mileage numbers, with nothing about weight and size in them, how can it be a story about downsizing?”

            The sales of gas guzzlers have declined. Those sales have been largely replaced by different types of vehicles that use less fuel. Hence, better EPA numbers and the results reported by UMTRI.

            People are buying fewer mainstream large SUVs, fewer not-so-mini minivans, and fewer large sedans. (Sales of large pickups are also down, although obviously still substantial.) These have been replaced largely by more efficient midsized sedans and small-to-midsize crossovers. As I told you before, they downsized.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Comparing to 10 or 12 years ago when nobody bothered to build to the test, absolutely. Compare the three best selling vehicles then to now:

          The 97-04 4WD F150 / 5.4 scored an unadjusted 17.8 mpg combined. The current turbo V6 model scored 22.5. That 26% paper increase was just 1 mpg – 7% – when Consumer Reports drove them on actual roads.

          The 01-06 Camry / I4’s unadjusted score increased from 31 to 38. A 23% gain that turned into 12% in CR testing.

          The 02-05 Explorer V6 scored 20.4. The Explorer today scores 24.5. A 20% increase where CR measured 12%.

          More recently, everything on the market is already fully gamed so I believe the year on year increases are largely legitimate. The silver lining of downgrading to smaller classes of car and the good engines going away.

  • avatar
    SOneThreeCoupe

    12.5% of the 2014 Dodge Ram EcoDiesels on Fuelly meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark, 7.8% of the 2014 Dodge Ram Hemis on Fuelly meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark and 0% of the 2014 Dodge Ram Pentastar V6s meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark.

    0% of the 2014 Ford F150 EcoBoosts on Fuelly meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark- 0% of all 2014 Ford F150s meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark. Some get close.

    0% of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 5.3s on Fuelly meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark- 0% of all 2014 Silverado 1500s on Fuelly meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark. Some get close.

    0% of the 2014 Toyota Tundras on Fuelly meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark.

    3.45% of the Nissan Frontiers on Fuelly meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark. Some get close. 0% of the Toyota Tacomas on Fuelly meet or exceed that 25.8mpg mark. Some get close.

    Some of the Hemi Ram numbers are way outside the norm, and I’m fairly certain that at least one was actually an EcoDiesel that someone had classified incorrectly.

    In other words, light-duty pickups still have a way to go when it comes to mileage. Only the EcoDiesel, and only if you commute a decent distance via highway, is able to meet this new-car high, and may in instances exceed it. It’s not fast and it’s not cheap, but it’s a serious step forward in the light-duty pickup market- some of the mileage the guys on the forums are getting is outstanding.

    The EcoDiesel is also one of the first trucks I’m willing to purchase- in May of next year I will be buying one as a late birthday present to myself.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do think the mpg should be removed from the graph and a number as a measure or value of new cars sold with the CAFE number given.

    I have read that owners’ of pickups, like the Pentastar Ram are returning a real life FE average of between 16-17mpg. The same goes for the Eco Boost F-150s with around the same or a little less.

    I have also made this comment before and the fanboi’s always manage to maintain the manufacturers’ FE. But yet they describe how fast their trucks accelerate…Hmmmmm???

    I see a lot of debating using the manufacturers figures during debates on FE. But these figures are far from accurate.

    I have read that diesel FE figures are the most reliable and much closer to the what the CAFE or EPA figures are.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I’m quite sure 25.8mpg has been regarded as a ‘gas guzzling dinosaur’ in most of Europe for at least 25 years by now. Seriously, people wonder how I can afford to run my CR-V, and it averages roughly 24mpg. On the other hand, most people do buy underpowered boring diesel wagons over here. Again, people wonder why I need that huge 150 hp 2 liter engine…
    A V6 Accord would be considered a (very cheaply assembled) luxury racecar over here (and would be taxed as one too).

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Pretty sure the average at my house is 15-16.

      But the 11mpg I average in the DD is cheap enough to feed. Gas has been going down, at $3.18 a gallon now, lots of driving for me.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        For many people the average is meaningless because of the amount of driving they are required to do.

        I don’t know what the average is at my house, spread over three vehicles, but up until my 17-yo grand daughter moved in with her mom in El Paso, TX, I was going through ~ 110 gals of gas a week at my house, at roughly $3.50 a gallon (on average) for 91-octane gas.

        But that usage also includes business travel and construction/repair/hauling done in support of her family’s business, and running my AC generators for six hours every Sunday.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      A V6 Accord really IS a luxury racecar. I drove my friend’s Accord V6 Coupe, manual transmission, for a while. So fast, so easy to drive.

      Japanese V6 engines are a marvel: smooth, reliable, and in the real world no thirstier than a turbo four. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t where the American EPA test takes place, and Europe taxes by displacement, so increasingly everyone gets turbo fours instead: less tractable, and requiring more frequent and more expensive repair. Boo.

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