By on April 9, 2020

2003 Honda Civic GX in California wrecking yard, fuel gauge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

It seems readers gravitated to Chris’ recent review of the Silverado 1500 Duramax. Indeed, I was curious to see just how well General Motors’ new 3.0-liter inline-six diesel handled day to day life and, more importantly, how well it performed at the pumps.

Looks like the pickup’s fuel economy was worthy of note. With each full-size member of the Detroit Three now fielding an oil burner, light-duty diesel fuel economy has become another arena in which to do battle. Of course, the industry has always used fuel economy as a yardstick (despite it not being much of a selling point at various times in history), and as always, the buyer’s mileage will vary, regardless of what EPA figures appear in the window sticker.

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised?

By that I mean, has your brand spankin’ new vehicle ever surpassed the EPA’s figures by such a margin, you took note? Keep in mind that a vehicle gets gets better gas mileage than advertised is like being handed free money. An allowance doled, out over, time at the pump.

I’ve been disappointed with MPG results on week-long test drives in the past, and it should come as no surprise that the most egregious gaps are found in gas-sucking full-size pickups and SUVs. After all, a big fuel bill means less-than-advertised real-world MPG results are felt more acutely in the wallet.

Sure, some of those tests featured variables that would diminish pump performance: cold weather, winter tires, and the fact that no reviewer ever replicates the EPA combined test cycle. Our mileage does vary, and so will yours. Still, disappointment sometimes crops up after a warm, sedate week spent driving in the city and on the highway.

Elation sometimes rears its head, too, as a vehicle can surprise its driver with boffo economy. Has your ride ever topped its EPA rating by such a degree, it made you want to call a friend and brag?

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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89 Comments on “QOTD: A Mileage Miracle?...”


  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I was really surprised by an Acura RSX Type-S I had. I think it was rated 23 city/31 highway. I could flog it around town and it would get 30 mpg without trying, and I did touch 40 mpg a few times on long highway trips.

    An RX-8 I had, on the other hand, must have had a featherweight on the gas when it was EPA rated because getting out of the high teens, even on the highway, was a struggle sometimes. I knew going in that fuel economy wasn’t the strong suit of the rotary…but wow… 911s and Corvettes that make far more power get better economy.

    A huge surprise was with a recent 2020 BMW 530i rental I had. It had a 2.0L turbo-4 (of course and it was rather ragged sounding and vibrated horribly with the auto stop/start. Not exactly luxurious or sporty) and around town, it got as advertised – mid 20s or so. On the highway, however, and I confirmed this at the pump, I was getting close to 38-39 mpg. In a large, heavy German sedan that wasn’t seeing the speed limit. Very impressive.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    Turns out the engine was illegal, but in Feb ’15, my Jetta TDi took me from Hartford to Zanesville on one tank – probably could have made it to my Columbus destination if I weren’t allergic to driving with the needle in the red zone. Worked out to something like 51 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Mmmmm…range. That Jetta was awesome. 500+ miles of range, was it? I wanted one. Little did I know the sneaky Germans were cheating as a matter of corporate policy. I have been wary of small diesel engines ever since. You can only choke them down so much before they stop making sense.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      I routinely get above EPA estimates on my vehicles. I haven’t missed documenting a tank in my adult life. My VW TDIs would often deliver 44-46 mpg in my commutes. I was thrilled with that. I once decided to test the fuel economy in my ’97 Jetta TDI on a trip to Louisville. It delivered 780 miles on the tank from SE PA to Louisville and back to Columbus. I believe that the fuel economy was around on 53 mpg on that tank.

      I traded that ’97 Jetta for a ’00 Golf TDI and discovered that shift from the Mark III to the Mark IV was a step up in both refinement and fuel economy. I traveled to Nashville and spent a good bit of that trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway which is ideal for boost fuel economy. That tank was just over 56 mpg. I haven’t bettered that number.

    • 0 avatar
      Jerome10

      Yup. I was gonna say Audi A3 diesel.

      Now I know why.

      BMW I6s seem to do really well too. Amazed how high I can pull in my mother’s 10 year old 5 series on the highway.

      I’ve also hit 48mpg in a Ford Fusion Hybrid a few times.

    • 0 avatar
      phreshone

      Would still love to see a graph of real pollutants of that car generated vs. diesel and gas cars from 1973 to say 2010…

      • 0 avatar
        retrocrank

        In broad terms, to go 100 miles my ’14 TDi burned about 8.2 kg of diesel, to go 100 typical miles (2.5 gallons, at 7 lbs per gallon). My ’16 TSi that VW gave me in trade for the TDi uses about 11 kg of gasoline to cover the same distance (4 gallons at 6 lbs per gallon). Looking up characteristic chemical formulae for gasoline and diesel (C8H18 and C12H24 respectively, only as a rough guide – compositions and characteristics of course vary by producer and season etc.) and doing the math, the TSi emits 9.3 kg of carbon but the TDi put out only 7.1 kg of carbon over those 100 miles. Of course the whole thing is much more complicated (how much CO vs. CO2 etc., what about all of the aromatics, particulates, and other junk that comes out of a tailpipe…). But when it comes down to it, the diesel displaced only 80% of the carbon from underground to the atmosphere that the gas engine does, to do essentially the same work. Makes me think some of the greenies aren’t doing their math.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I’m pretty pleased with my ’15 Hyundai Genesis (now Genesis G80) 3.8’s 29mpg running 75 to 80 on the highway. The 3.5 in my 350Z can barely manage 26 under the same circumstances, and that’s on premium.

    As a side note, I wonder how many people left have two cars with naturally aspirated large-displacement V6s…

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’ve got a 3.4L V6 in my 4Runner and the 3.6L Pentastar in our Town&Country. Looking to add a V8 to the fleet (an old one). Our van varies wildly depending on season and use. City driving in the winter on snow tires with liberal use of the remote starter? 15mpg. City driving with lots of use of remote start to cool off the car for our baby? 17-18mpg. Mixed city/highway? 20-22mpg. All highway trips in the summer? 26-27mpg depending on how much you speed.

      4Runner: in the summer, back when I had highway-tread all seasons, I was hitting 20mpg in mixed use with relaxed driving regularly, as high as 21-22 on all highway trips.
      Now, on pretty aggressive (but stock size) all terrains, it’s more like 17mpg, I’ve gotten as high as 20 in all highway summer driving to the Outer Banks.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      My fleet contains a 3.7 V6, 4.7 V8 and 6.2 V8 all N/A and RWD. My wife works from home and we have no kids, so only one of these gas guzzlers is on the road at time really.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        JMII how do you do on gas with the C7? I’ve managed to get a best of 32 MPG on a road trip, with typical highway jaunts returning 28-30. I have a photo of the computer but no way to post such stuff here…

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      I had a 2016 Hyundai Genesis 3.8. I too, was able to routinely get 29-30 mpg highway, even with a few people onboard and 70+ mph speeds. The EPA sticker that year was 18 city, 28 highway. The city mileage however, was usually between 13 and 14 mpg. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. At least it was regular. Too bad for me, my driving is 90% city miles.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Considering I drive this car like a lunatic, the 7.6 l/100 km (31 mpg) my ND Miata is averaging over 12,000 km of mixed driving is pretty impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      That’s what I’m hearing from the Mazda dealer, some ND MX-5 owners, and on the forums that you can just rev that new engine all day long and it will still get low to mid 30s without any effort. Some owners are reporting their RF models hitting 40+ on the highway. Very impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      My 2011 Mazda3 same way. I can drive anyway I want. It is 30mpg. Even though, it is rated 28 avg. It is rated 33hway, I get 36 constantly (at the pump)

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I had a 06 Mazda 3 that performed as expected, but it had what seemed like a very long break in period, like almost 10k before the MPG improved and stabilized. My ’10 Focus performs the EPA estimates to the letter, occasionally exceeding the highway figures. The car in my past that most surprised me was a Dodge Stratus with the 2.0 and 5 speed manual. On highway trips I exceeded 40 mpg more than once, and took several trips between DC and NY loaded with 4 passengers and stuff and AC on and still got mid to high 30’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I found that the best way to break in a new car was to take a long, steady drive in it… at least 100 miles (preferably 10X that) on the freeway at about 65mph. When I’ve done that, I’ve tended to not have any engine issues for the rest of the life of the vehicle–and I buy most of my vehicles new–either special order or off the dealership lot (usually order.) Every used vehicle, except for two, I have purchased has needed engine work or other major repairs within a year of purchase. Those exceptions include a 2014 Fiat 500 Pop and a 1986 Buick leSabre T-type.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          @Vulpine

          what you’ve described is completely opposite to what is written in owner manuals. There they say, drive first “n” number of miles at various speeds.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            It may be completely opposite but it has worked for me. Daily stop-and-go driving such as a commute, unless it’s a longer commute that’s at least 50% highway driving, seems to do more harm than good. Personal experience over what someone else says you should do.

            Keep in mind that those expensive NASCAR engines aren’t broken in with variable speeds… they’re run at steady speeds for hours to ensure they’re ready for race time.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            Yeah, I’m pretty sure the breaking in at varying speeds thing comes from when piston rings took a longer time to wear in.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Let me postulate that stop and go traffic is bad for your car regardless of break-in period.

          On the side note, when they “various speeds”, I bet, this is all about transmission rather than the engine.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Strangely, this long-trip advice seems to work as well for the transmission as it gives you time to train it to up-shift or down-shift at more reasonable times… (like before it goes more than 5mph below/above your set speed.) For all that people complained about FCA’s 9-speed tranny, it only took a couple trips up to the in-Laws to train it to downshift sooner to handle uphill grades and up-shift as soon as the load eased. The shift points are practically undetectable when they occur and it handles the grades quicker and more smoothly than the factory configuration, which waits for the revs to fall significantly before shifting. I’ve also noticed that on downgrades it will either auto-downshift or even apply the brakes if the free-rolling speed goes more than about 10mph over the set cruise control speed. As such, there is no notable loss of fuel economy (more fuel used to return to set speed on upgrades when it drops too far below) and downhill runaway is reduced as well, though not as well when you don’t have that much compression braking available.

            Again, this has come from personal experience over nearly 50 years of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Jerome10

      Mazda I believe has a reputation with the Sky Activ of besting the MPG numbers on the sticker.

      I can’t recall off the top of my head but CR had/has the Mazda6 with the highest real world observed non-hybrid MPG in their tests.

      Ok I have to look…. yeah they observed 44mpg on the highway in their 6. Sticker Highway is 35mpg

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I own a 2015 Mazda6 with manual transmission. I drive 52 miles (round trip) for my daily commute, 75% of that on freeway at around 75 mph. I routinely see 33mpg.

        When I take longer trips to visit my father 400 miles away, I have seen 37mpg.

        I am VERY pleased with the fuel economy of my M6. For such a spacious, comfortable car, this is remarkable.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          @R Henry

          I have same setup in my 2017. I drive 25mi round trip with also about 75% hwy. Lets start that sticker EPA 24/34-28. Ok, this is what I’ve been getting – 28-30avg. On the long trips on the highway, I’ve seen computer going up to 41mpg but at the pump it would never be that. I’ve seen 36mpg at the pump on long trips. Buy the time you get off highway, drive to the pump, it declines quick. Have you noticed decline in the winter? In fact, mine now has around 25K and I feel fuel efficiency had worsened lately. But I had more local road driving lately, instead of highway and I like quick acceleration. Will follow more.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            I live in coastal SoCal. Weather is so mild so as to not be a factor.

            I have NEVER had a tank which returned less than 31mpg. I do NOT rely on the computer– all results are from doing the math at each fill up. I just reached 112K miles. I had a very gradual decline in fuel efficiency as I approached 95K miles, but a service including new platinum spark plugs resolved that, and I have returned to as-new performance.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            As for my “driving style” I am not a hotrodder by any extent. I tend to upshift no higher than 3000 RPM, and often short shift, skip 5th when tootling around town, which is largely level. My fuel efficiency likely results from this very lazy driving style. I never attempt to hypermile however, and almost always cruise on the freeway at 75-78mph.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          This is promising. Mazda actually issued a service bulletin to clean the intake manifold. You take man. off, turn the crankshaft pulley into position to close 2 cyl, flood intake ports with some liquid, let it stay there 2 hours, clean the valves, dry stuff out. Turn the pulley to close other 2 cyl’s and repeat.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        “Mazda I believe has a reputation with the Sky Activ of besting the MPG numbers on the sticker.”

        I’ve seen mixed results. I even have tendency to think that it acts almost like turbo – mileage diminishes quick with hard acceleration. While their previous gen was more stable.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I am always surprised when I take my E39 M5 for a road trip. For a car rated 13/19 under an older and more charitable EPA test, I can easily get 26 mpg on the interstate. Around town 16-18 is the norm.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    2012 Chevy Cruze Eco 6M. Rated at 42 MPG highway, I would regularly get 45+ driving between DC and the Norfolk, VA area, and that wasn’t trying any fancy hypermiling tricks (THAT got me 48.6 MPG in a single tank once). I was expecting ~40 if I was lucky. Met my needs, and exceeded my expectations.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Have gotten some stupendous mileage out of a few plain jane 4cyl rentals over the past few years.

    Kia Optima LX-FE: got 43mpg indicated driving from Ithaca NY to LaGuardia
    Passat TSI: 40 indicated mpg after 8 hours of 75-78mph cruising from Indianapolis to Kansas City, rolled into town with still a quarter tank in reserve.
    Elantra GLS: 43mpg without really trying cruising up and down I69 to West Lafayette and back from Indy
    Jetta 1.4TSI: same story but faster driving than the Elantra. 75-80mph, 43mpg indicated.
    Pacifica: Des Moines to Indianapolis, sustained 77mph cruising late into the evening with a number of 55-80mph full throttle runs leaving construction zones, 29mpg indicated.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Almost forgot: Rental Tahoe last fall got me 24.5mpg indicated on a two way run to CHicago and back, maintaining fairly normal 74-75mph type speeds. Very impressed, I found the 5.3L to be very smooth and responsive, and even made some nice (albeit muted) sounds.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I was surprised at how BAD the mileage was on my ’02 Jeep Grand Cherokee. About 13-14mpg with the HO V8. Terrible, I finally had to get rid of it when gas went berserk

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      There was nothing good about that 4.7. I had a ’98 with the 5.2, the mileage was the same, the power felt similar (my aunt had an ’02 or ’03 overland with the 4.7 HO), but the 5.2 was bulletproof and the 4.7 was a disaster.

      • 0 avatar

        As far as MPG is concerned yep not much difference. Back in 2004 I read something that Daimler looked at using the 4.7 for the Charger/300, but decided the new at the time Hemi would actually deliver the same fuel economy with much more power.
        Other then that I have owned a bunch of 5.2’s and now have had a 4.7 for a decade. I think the 4.7 has a better driver-ability and mid range then the 5.2, and mine has been remarkably reliable, so I can’t say much else bad about them other the MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I too have wondered why the 4.7 existed. The 5.2 was fantastic, proven. Was it simply bragging rights about the overhead cam?

        I am guessing the 5.2 needed some rework to meet emissions regs, and the bigs said “no way!” about investing more in such a “legacy” design.

        • 0 avatar

          The 4.7 was designed for Jeep I gather, and was planned to be a modern modular engine series like Ford had in fact the 3.7 Jeep used is the same engine family. I assume there was some emissions reasoning but also driveability. It spins up faster and feels a bit better to drive. The 5.2 pulls a trailer better thou seems to have better grunt. They were really designed to be a midsize SUV engine.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I recall that Car and Driver (when new Grand Cherokees were available with the 4.7 and 5.2) got some of the worst fuel economy they had ever recorded in a mass produced car over the long term test. Something like a 17 mpg aggregate over the 30,000-40,000 miles.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’ve gotten 33 MPG out of the my ’14 Z51 Corvette… and its only rated for 29. Due to its torque you can short shift and drive it like a diesel if desired. In 7th gear on the highway it will do 65 MPH @ only 1,200 RPM. Its almost laughable at how effortlessly it cruises. On the opposite end its gets about 6.5 MPG on track LOL.

    My ’02 Dakota has never gotten its EPA rating, even empty, going downhill with a tailwind. It has the tow package with optional rear-end gearing so maybe that explains why.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      “In 7th gear on the highway it will do 65 MPH @ only 1,200 RPM. Its almost laughable at how effortlessly it cruises.”

      This is something GM does well (the fullsize trucks and SUV’s behave the same way).

      I had an ’08 G35 (during the big gas spike of ’08) which turned 3000rpm at 70mph in top gear – made me roll my eyes daily. [But that car was the single most well-screwed-together vehicle I’ve ever had in my driveway.]

      Powertrain engineers: If you’ve got the torque, use the torque – drop the rpm’s in top gear and use the downshift for ‘responsiveness’.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        “Powertrain engineers: If you’ve got the torque, use the torque – drop the rpm’s in top gear and use the downshift for ‘responsiveness’.”

        Hear, hear!

        I used to have an old Volvo with the Laycock overdrive. The electric relay could be a little goofy (a cold solder in a ten year old relay tends to do that…) and there was a period of a couple months when it wouldn’t work. The overdrive ratio that made “fifth” gear was .79 and fourth was direct drive. The highway mileage with and without the overdrive was about a 10% difference. In other words, at least in that car, a 20% drop in highway rpm produced a 10% drop in fuel consumption. The rear axle ratio was tall in that model/year and the car could barely make 75mph on a 6% uphill grade with the go pedal pressed all the way down. I’ve always thought that was adequate. Responsiveness schmonsiveness… if I wanted responsiveness then I could drive around all day in fourth or third.

  • avatar
    justVUEit

    We once had an early 90’s Festiva. It was basic transport with the only option being an AM/FM/cassette radio. We had longish commutes (25-30 miles one way) so good on gas and simple were requirements. Highway mileage was over 50 so it also became the vehicle of choice for long-distance runs. My other surprise was a Saturn we had that could hit near 40 mpg on the highway and mid-’20s during my annoying heavy traffic stop-and-go commute.

  • avatar
    mikey

    For just under four years I used a 15 EB Mustang as a daily driver. Great car, but lousy gas mileage.

    I traded the Mustang in on a 19 Impala ,premier package equipped with the 3.6.. I don’t feel like doing all the math. Kilometres to Miles, Litres to U.S Gallon..Oh and of course that 30 cent exchange thing.

    Anyway,,For a “full size” with all the bells and whistles. I am impressed with the big Chevys fuel economy ..

  • avatar
    CarGuyDaryl

    Most of my cars over the years have exceeded EPA estimates but I think that’s because my commute is pretty easy at speeds of 45-50. But I remember years ago I had an 02 civic LX with the 5speed which was rated at 28/35 I think but it would consistently get 32 running around town and we took it down to Vegas and back once and it averaged 46 mpg and we were still going over 70 most of the way. I was shocked when I filled up and did the math!

    My other pleasant surprise was an 05 xterra I I’d with the 6 speed manual and I would average 19mpg, 17 while towing our trailer and easily get 21-22 on a trip. It had such good power you could drive it pretty relaxed, I think that one was rated at 16/19 if I remember right.

  • avatar
    CarGuyDaryl

    Most of my cars over the years have exceeded EPA estimates but I think that’s because my commute is pretty easy at speeds of 45-50. But I remember years ago I had an 02 civic LX with the 5speed which was rated at 28/35 I think but it would consistently get 32 running around town and we took it down to Vegas and back once and it averaged 46 mpg and we were still going over 70 most of the way. I was shocked when I filled up and did the math!

    My other pleasant surprise was an 05 xterra I Had with the 6 speed manual and I would average 19mpg in town, 17 while towing our trailer and easily get 21-22 on a trip. It had such good power you could drive it pretty relaxed, I think that one was rated at 16/19 if I remember right.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I got 21 MPG from a tank once in a 4.7L JGC 4WD by purposely driving as economical as possible. It was rated at 15 combined.
    I got like 40 out of a rental Sonata too.
    On my personal cars I’ve generally been a hair over the EPA ratings but nothing crazy.

  • avatar
    AVT

    Biggest surprise was a lexus GX460. I got 24.7 driving to the cabin during construction time in the summer going 60-65 in Minnesota. Things rated at 18. That being said, as soon as it hit 70, I was only seeing 19-20. The bigger SUV’s are sensitive to even a few mph when it comes to there mpg. Biggest disappointment was an older Audi S5 with the 4.2 and a 6 speed manual. Got 18 on the highway going 70. Not surprising given how it was geared and at 70, she was spinning at 3k rpm’s

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      My old 2.8L A4 Quattro with a stick wouldn’t do much better than 20-21 mpg in mixed driving on premium, and that’s a vastly slower car than your S5 lol. Gearing was similar to yours by the sound of it.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    As an experiment I once got the Accord to average a bit over 40 MPG on a trip home from work, and it was an absolutely miserable driving experience.

    In my world, gas is too cheap to worry about MPG once you hit 28 to 30 MPG.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I got double digit MPG towing a 5-6000 lb trailer over Eisenhower pass in an 8.1L Chevy, that is probably the best performance I’ve ever had relative to expectations.

  • avatar
    dmchyla

    I have a 2012 Cruze Eco, purchased new. When I first had it, speed limits were mostly 65, I would consistently get 42mpg, mostly around 65-70mph. My commute has changed, the speed limit is mostly 70 but traffic flows around 80-85. I still get 38-40 at higher speeds, and I have 165,000 miles on the car.

    Someone above mentioned a BMW 530 – I lucked into a 2019 530Xi for a rental car, and drove it for a 600 mile highway trip. I averaged 36mpg. That was pretty shocking. The 4 Cyl was a little rough at idle but had plenty of mid-range torque. I really liked that car.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I ran a 775 mile tank on my 2.7 F-150 once, with 3 gallons to spare. I don’t usually let it get under a quarter but it was new and I wanted to find out how much was left when the light came on.

    I don’t care about MPG in itself but miles per tank is nice.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    No but quite a few get worse than rated…

  • avatar
    cprescott

    I remember having a 1985 Lincoln Town Car that would consistently deliver 30 mpgs on the highway and mid 20’s per tank. The key to that car was to get it into overdrive as quickly as possible and to set the cruise control on the highway. I was also maniacal about tire pressure and regular 3k oil changes.

    I miss that car. I had to give it up when I moved to a place with only one parking space. Over a summer my brother in law and I rebuilt the car – it ran wonderfully since we bought it but nothing power worked and the interior had dry rotted. We went to a junk yard and found one that was wrecked in the front and we took every bit of the interior out and replaced the bad stuff in the car we were upgrading. The power windows were operable except their tracks had grit from sand (the car had been near a beach for years) – one of WD-40 for each window solved the problem.

    there is something to be said for old school V-8 luxury barges.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My 05 xB 5-spd was rated at 31/35, and that’s exactly what I got.

    I’ve never really had a “mileage miracle”, but I’ve been pleased with my Ioniq EV’s range, which meets EPA. For an EV, that’s pretty good.

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    My old 2000 and my parents’ 2002 Saturn SL2s were fuel-economy champs. Despite short gearing on the 4-speed automatic, we could count the number of times they got less than 32 mpg on one hand. They would also regularly hit 40+ on road trips.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Another contrarian anecdote-

    I used to *beat* the EPA estimates on my daily commute- but my commute was unusually favorable to getting good fuel economy.

    It was about 45 minutes each way so engine warmup was a very small factor.

    It was in a moderate to hot climate, so again engine warmup but also cabin cool down (a/c).

    The local population has a lot of bumpkins who cruise at 45-55mph on primary roads, accelerate slowwwwly, and the route had very few stop signs and traffic lights. So not much any start/stop or jackrabbit starts.

    I drove a hybrid then and there were a few significant stretches of slightly downhill grade where the speed limit would progressively drop. This was literally “free” mileage- a normal car coasting on the same stretch still wastes energy because of slight engine braking (even in top gear the engine is pulling vacuum at above idle speed), or waste more if the driver is one of those people who puts it in neutral to “save gas” (use gas idling instead of wasting momentum from a bit of engine braking… six of one/half dozen of the other).

    But again, it is unusual to have all of these work in your favor. The differences kinda highlight what most people’s daily drives are realistically.

    My record in that car was over 700 miles for a 12~ish gallon fuel tank.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    A ’96 Camaro that was EPA rated highway at 26 easily achieved over 32mpg regularly on 650-mile runs. Commuting mileage averaged 25mpg.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    My 2005 Avalon surprised me with ~30mpg driving *uphill* through Rocky Mountain National Park last fall.

    But COVID has saved me way more fuel dollars than any OEM ever has.

    Relevant product recommendation (three full tanks of fuel and not going anywhere) [also gets added to all my mower fuel]:
    https://www.goldeagle.com/product/sta-bil-fuel-stabilizer/

  • avatar
    rvakenya

    I have a 2017 Chevy Cruze Diesel 6spd Manual. I commute 82 miles round trip, 14 stoplights, mix of highway and small roads. I consistently get 57mpg with it and in the winter without A/C I get 60mpg. When I fill it, it says my range is over 700 miles. Impressive engineering detail by GM to improve the mileage. Has same air filter from Caddy CTS-V, has air shutters, has the underside smoothed with a panel, super quiet diesel.

    It is still a small Chevy with nothing to brag about (I don’t even wash it) but man it will drive forever.

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    A Honda CRX HF I used to drive routinely posted MPG in the high 40s and low 50s. Of course, it was a death trap otherwise.

  • avatar
    dreadsword

    I’ve been unpleasantly surprised by our bought new 2018 Toyota 4Runner. Rated 17/20, I’ve never seen it get more the ~15 mpg, even on long highway slogs. How did Toyota manage to make a 4.0L V6 that gets worse mileage than the 6.2L V8 in a 2018 Yukon?

  • avatar

    A rental Jetta TSi managed around 41 MPG
    and a Hemi ram rental averaged 22 MPG

    I was surprised by both of those since I wasn’t trying to get good mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      retrocrank

      my TSi Jetta wagon (stick and awd) that replaced the TDi wagon (at VW’s expense) typically scores 37-38 mpg on 80 mph drives from central CT up into the mountains. Around town it’s still not bad, but more like 28-30. Still not bad for a New England Suburban Pickup.

  • avatar

    I bought an unsold 2019 Wrangler Rubicon a couple months ago with the 4 cylinder turbo. The deal was too good to pass up even though I wasn’t sold on the motor.

    I’ve been very surprised by the gas mileage. It’s a soft top unlimited and I went into it not expecting to get great mileage, but I was coming from a 20 year old Isuzu so anything was an improvement. But I am averaging 21/22 around town and get 24/25 on the highway. Much better than I ever expected.

    My wife’s expedition is the opposite, we barely average 15 mpg with the ecoboost V6, but again, you can’t expect much for a vehicle that big, but a diesel option for a big people mover would seem to make as much sense as using it in a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      On the Jeep, do you have the eTorque version of the 2.0T and which octane have you been using?

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, it’s the eTorque version of the 2.0L.
        I think for 2020 you could get it with or without the eTorque but all the 2020’s had it.

        I don’t turn off the stop/start system and I have been running 93 octane in it since I’m just barely at 5000 miles. Overall I’ve been really impressed with the engine. The stop start system is much smoother than the Ford one in our Expedition but my understanding is that it uses the electric motor in place of a traditional starter and since it’s using the motor to assist movement from a stop it doesn’t have a traditional starter. The only downside I really see from it is that it’s about $800 to replace the 48V battery down the road when it wears out.

  • avatar
    TStew78

    07 V70 that has been my daily for most of the last 12 years I have consistently gotten 35+ and as high as 42 out of. Rated at 18/26. Made it from STL to just outside of New Orleans on a single tank once. My F150 on the otherhand has been at best 21 mixed (2.7 Eco) but I love it so I deal with it.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    2018 Sportwagon S, 1.8T, 5 speed manual. Hand calculated 41.6 average living at 4,500″. I think the EPA on it was 36 highway. Town is 10 mles away which distorts the city/highway average a bit but still it’s by far and away the best I’ve ever had.

    One trip to Kansas City from here averaged 43.8 hand calculated on cruise at 70 or 75 most of the way. It kind of makes me wonder why VW wants electric or why so many were enamored of the TDI with it’s higher maintenance costs. With the difference in fuel costs the 1.8TDI is cheaper to drive than the TDI.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I’m surprised by my 2018 Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve. With premium gas I’m getting 30.5 with mixed driving even with the heavily poopoo’d 6 speed transmission.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Some would consider the fact that my 1982 Chevy Celebrity could get 29 mpg (on long highway runs at about 65 mph) pretty miraculous. This was after the original Iron Duke (with TBI) was rebuilt but it only had a 3-speed automatic trans. I was pretty religious about using the cruise control.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    My Ram 3.6 has had great fuel economy on the HWY. As high as 27 MPG (2 above the EPA rating) but the City FE has been a mixed bag since my work commute was only 12 miles round-trip and involved lots of potholes and stoplights.

    My 2010 Accord 4cyl gets 35MPG which is 10% better than Honda’s (under) rating.

    Also had an 08 Escape V6 besting its HWY FE by 3 MPG, and it still had a 4 spd!

    Back on a previous Job when I would get a rental each month, my biggest surprises came from a 2015 Malibu with the 2.5 Ecotec as well as a 2.5 I-5 Jetta. Both would get about 35 MPG, besting those cheap Versas with the horrendous 4 spd Auto I was getting so often.

  • avatar
    B-BodyBuick84

    My new-to-me at the time DD was neglected maintenance-wise by it’s otherwise gentle driving previous owner, and I had to do a 750 km round trip in a couple weeks which necessitated a massive tune up that included but wasn’t limited to…

    New spark plugs and wires, new fuel/oil/air/transmission filter, new 02 and MAF sensors, TransGo transmission shift kit with new Dextron 6 synthetic fluid, full coolant flush along with a new water pump and thermostat, new tires on balanced rims, and a full engine oil flush that was replaced with Mobil 1 10W-30 and Liquid Moly Ceratec additive. I ran 2 tanks of 91 octane with measured amounts of seafoam and marvel mystery oil to clean up any varnish or carbon that had built up in the injectors and combustion chamber, and also the rims/ tires were balanced.

    When I did the trip I hooked up my scangauge to the OBD2 port and tracked my mileage. Pulled down 6.6 l/100km or 35.64 MPG U.S. Not to shabby for a 2000 Buick LeSabre with a 3800 series 2 underhood.

    (Having said all this, I do want to be completely honest and mention that since then, I’ve never been able to reach that mileage again. 31-33 mpg U.S. is achievable depending on traffic and weather conditions, but that first long run seemed to be a one-off sweet point in the car’s life.)

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Nissan Rogue. It has the best combined real world mileage of any vehicle that I have had in the last 30 years, including the manual Sonata and is comparable with any vehicle I have had including stripped 2nd and 3rd generation Honda Civic hatchbacks.

    • 0 avatar

      What year rogue? I had a rental around 2016-2017 that returned some what poor MPG around 26 if I recall most of the rental CUVs Ive had managed more like 28-30.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        A 2018 Rogue with 2wd. Truthfully its mpg has been nothing short of remarkable.

        Do have to admit that the wife is the primary driver and usually keeps it in the ‘Eco’ mode.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The Fiesta will beat it if you shift when the up-shift light tells you. I did it for a tank once and it is every bit as miserable as you can imagine. I have driven the Leaf several miles with the range reading zero. That is more miserable and will tie your stomach in knots.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Prior to mounting 10 ply All Terrain/Mud Terrain tires on my truck, I was actually impressed with the mpg on the highway. If I stayed around 100 KPH and used some mild hypermiling techniques, I could get around 20.5 mpg (USA gallon) out of it with my family on board, and a bunch of gear in the box. That was with a 2010 F150 SuperCrew 4×4 with 5.4. EPA rated it at 18 MPG (US gallon) highway.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    My personal best was a tank in my Mazda6 which was just a hair under 40 mpg, calculated at the pump, when all was said and done.

    The only number I’ve ever given a durn about has been combined mileage because I can’t guess with any great amount of accuracy my percentage of time driving city versus highway so those numbers don’t mean too much too me. In most of my 4 cylinder equipped vehicles it’s been easy to match or beat the combined estimate, but in my V6 equipped vehicles it’s been more of a challenge. My combined mileage in the CX5 has been falling short though, but not so far as for me to believe they’ve fudged it. I work 8 miles from home and don’t get on the freeway as often as I did when I had a 23 mile commute one way.

    I try to pay a bit of attention to the little instant mileage gauge to see if I’m caning it too much, even though it feels so much better than usual at relatively high revs.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Driving south through Ohio, I once his 29.5-ish MPG in a 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis. 2.73s out back and Ohio’s heavy police presence helped ;)

    Usually that was a 25mpg highway car.

    I used to say: “The performance of a 4-cyl Camry with the mileage of a Mustang GT”

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Really impressed by my ‘17 Silverado 4 door 4×4 with the 5.3L and 6 speed. 25-26 HWY is typical and I have edged over 30MPG over long highway trips.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The 17-19 Buick Lacrosse with the 3.6L under the hood. That car crushes the EPA sticker and you don’t have to try hard to get 33-35 MPG on the highway. Even with a heavy foot and all the mountain passes I got 31.3 MPG average with the AWD version going Seattle to Sacramento.

    The Nissan Altima delivers surprising fuel economy when I have rented them. Not too hard to get close to 40 MPG highway if you drive nice. Mid-30s is easy flogging it.

    The biggest surprise I had was a Saturn Aura with the 3.5L V6 under the hood. It was a rental, stripper model, and I got almost 40 MPG highway going San Fran to Sacramento driving it like it was stolen. I popped the hood to see how it could get such great MPG while having at least a modicum of power. Was pretty shocked to see the V6 under the hood.

    I’ve had other rentals that have gotten amazing MPG but can’t call them a surprise – it was expected. Had a Ford Fusion hybrid that was getting high 40s with combined city/highway – impressive but can’t say surprised.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My 2018 Dodge Challenger GT awd has been averaging 21-28 mpg city and highway. The sticker says 27 highway so it’s within the EPA estimates.
    The 1995 Thunderbird LX V8 I owned got around 26 highway and high teens city driving.
    I once owned a 1980 Oldsmobile Toronado diesel that regularly got 28 mpg highway.
    My dad owned a 1981 Chevrolet Chevette diesel and an Isuzu I-Mark diesel. 52 mpg highway was the norm. I think those or the VW Rabbit diesel was the EPA mileage champ that year, later to be beaten by the all new Honda Civic CRX-HF.

  • avatar
    millerluke

    I have a 2019 Camry with the 2.5L. It’s rated for around 7.2 L/100km, and I routinely get around 6.0, sometimes as low as 5.7 when I’m only on the highway. Currently, with winter tires on, I’m getting around advertised, all winter varying between 6.5 and 7.3 or so.

    To be fair, I put upwards of 4000km a month on it, so it’s predominantly highway, but still, beating the rating by around 1 L/100km isn’t too shabby

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