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Window Sticker MPG Not Accurate on Some Models

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On: Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 5:00PM | By: Elizabeth Puckett

Window Sticker MPG Not Accurate on Some Models

Fuel economy is a huge selling point when people are shopping for a new car. Most new car buyers rely exclusively on what the window sticker tells them about the vehicle when it comes to gas mileage; the window sticker displays the gas mileage estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shocking information from Consumer Reports, a consumer advocacy site, shows that real-world economy tests tell quite a different story about gas mileage—especially in some of the gas-powered cars advertised to be the most fuel efficient, and in hybrids.

Consumer Reports conducted extensive testing on 315 vehicles in gas mileage tests; the results were not in line with the promised MPG on the window stickers of these models. The largest group was hybrids with around 55% of models missing the mark; this is followed by smaller four-cylinder, turbocharged engines, 28% of which were worse on gas than promised by the window sticker. Surprisingly, the ‘average’ cars missed the mark at a rate of only 10%, far less than the other classes of vehicles tested.

The testing showed the best mileage, overall, was found in models like the Toyota Prius which got 44 MPG, and the hybrid versions of the Honda Civic, Ford Fusion, and Toyota Camry. Although they all got over 35 MPG, they still failed to live up to the promised MPG on the stickers.

Lincoln’s MKZ hybrid missed the mark by 11 MPG at 34 MPG overall; compare that to the promised window sticker economy of 45 miles to the gallon. Other Ford hybrids tested fall between 8-10 miles per gallon short of the advertised mileage. Such inaccuracies could end up costing drivers over $1,000 a year more in gas than if the vehicles met the advertised MPG.

Most of the shortfalls in the estimates were found when it came to the estimated city gas mileages. This indicates that the EPA estimates are not based on real-world driving scenarios. The tests done by the EPA are conducted with minimal idling time and a very gentle acceleration.

Although large gaps still exist between the advertised estimates and the actual fuel economy, the EPA estimates are closing in on reality as compared to previous years. When similar comparisons were done by Consumer Reports in 2005, gas-powered cars missed their stated MPG estimates mark by 9% and hybrids were off by 18%. Now, on average, conventional cars missed their EPA estimates by only about 2%, and hybrids by about 10%.

What you can gather from the window sticker is that the estimated gas mileage is the best case scenario, but don’t count on reaching that number without extreme adjustments to your driving habits and a sudden absence of traffic in your town. In other words, your mileage may vary.


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