Fuel Mileage, Is There a Straight Answer to Which Vehicle is the Most Efficient?

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With multiple vehicles available claiming to be more efficient than their competitors, what does efficient fuel mileage really mean? Edmunds.com completed its Fuel-Sipper Smackdown 4 to test the next group of efficient models.

DETROIT, M.I. – Fuel mileage is an important subject as automakers claim their vehicles are more efficient. But the question is, what does fuel efficient really mean? Does the highest MPG win or are there more factors to consider? Edmunds.com chose to focus on these parts as it completed its Fuel-Sipper Smackdown 4.

Smackdown Participants

The following vehicles were tested by Edmunds.com. Each vehicle is listed with the mpg estimates posted on the automaker website.

  • Chevrolet Volt: Electric 95 city mpg, 90 highway mpg — Gas 35 city mpg, 40 highway mpg
  • Kia Optima Hybrid: 35 city mpg, 40 highway mpg
  • Hyundai Elantra: 29 city mpg, 40 highway mpg
  • Fiat 500: Manual transmission 30 city mpg, 38 highway mpg — Automatic transmission 27 city mpg, 34 highway mpg
  • Volkswagen Jetta TDI: 30 city mpg, 42 highway mpg

The Ford Fiesta was going to also be a part of the Smackdown, but according to Edmunds.com "a series of accidents experienced within Ford's press fleet nixed chances of driving a Fiesta SFE or Focus SFE in this comparison."

Country Highway Route

Each vehicle was driven from Fontana, Calif., to Las Vegas while traveling speed limits of 50 to 60 mph. The miles per gallon shifted for each of the vehicles tested but certain vehicles like the Hyundai Elantra dropped the most at 5.7 mpg.

Based on the final real-world mpg ranking, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI took first place with 39.5 mpg with the Kia Optima Hybrid in last at 33.2 mpg. The money spent on each of the models was also ranked with the most spent on the Chevy Volt with $44.92 of 91 octane about $1.85 of electricity for $46.77.

The City Route

One aspect of the trip was the need to charge the Chevrolet Volt. The researchers were able to charge their Volt at the Flamingo in Las Vegas before they began their 180 mile trip around the city.

With the Volt in the gas-only mode, it traveled on average 33.7 mpg. If the electric had been factored in, the total would have been 44.8 mpg. Extra details for the Volt include $1.50 in electricity to travel 44.3 miles whereas it would be $3.89 in gasoline charges to go 33.7 miles. After a long period of time it is easily seen that the savings will start to add up.

The final ranking included the Chevy Volt on top in mpg with also at the top for least money spent. The Hyundai Elantra took last in mpg ranking with 28.3 mpg while the Volkswagen Jetta TDI was the most expensive to operate with $23.44 in diesel fuel.

Interstate Highway Route

The final end of the trip was 210 miles along Interstate 15. Again, the Volt did the best in fuel mileage with 45.2 mpg. If there has been no charging station available, the Volt would have earned 39 mpg on gasoline only. This means it would have taken second place to the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which earned 40.4 mpg. The cost included $21.81 with 91 octane and electricity for the Chevrolet Volt that again took first with the least money spent. The Kia Optima was at the bottom for both categories with 35 mpg and $24.97 spent on 87 octane.

Final Thoughts

The Chevrolet Volt was ranked by Edmunds.com as the overall winner as long as drivers have access to charging their vehicle, which could be a major problem as infrastructure is still lacking across the country. Although the Volkswagen Jetta TDI was the second by mpg, it needed the most money to operate with a total of $90.88 of diesel fuel.

As for the Elantra, the Edmunds.com drivers chose it as the most "normal," meaning they didn't have to drive differently to get the good mpg. The Fiat was in the middle of the group most of the way with the final fuel mileage ending at 36.9 mpg while it took second in money spent with $88.77 of 91 octane.

Other vehicles that were not included in the Smackdown were the luxury hybrid models such as the Buick Regal and LaCrosse. Both of these models are included with the GM eAssist technology that offers 25 city mpg and 37 highway mpg. Also, as the Buick LaCrosse has a recommended fuel grade of 87 regular unleaded, which means the price per gallon of gas that is used will be lower as well.

Fuel mileage and what is more efficient over another may not be a black and white answer as there is more than one factor that must be looked at.

MI Auto Times covers all Michigan automotive news all the time, featuring newly released vehicle recall information, relevant Michigan automaker news, vehicle ratings and comparisons, and everything else auto-related Michigan and world readers need to now.


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[Source(s): Edmunds.com]

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Fuel Mileage, Is There a Straight Answer to Which Vehicle is the Most Efficient?

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This article was published on 2011/09/27