Fuel economy ratings are on everyone’s mind lately. For 2013, Ford has seven models that achieve an EPA-estimated 40 MPG or better.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of information and misinformation swirling around in news stories, TV newscasts and blogs that can make fuel economy ratings confusing. Here are some straight answers to frequently asked questions on fuel economy.
It says on the sticker the mileage is “EPA-estimated.” What does that mean?
The EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal agency whose job it is to regulate environmental issues like vehicle fuel economy. The EPA created the test procedure that every manufacturer must follow, so that consumers get “apples to apples” ratings. The actual tests are run in a laboratory under controlled conditions, in order to reduce the variability from one test to the next. The “estimated” part of the rating is a reminder that most people won’t be driving under those precise conditions.
Will I get the mileage listed on the sticker?
You could get better, you might get the same or you could get worse. Driving habits vary greatly from driver to driver, and yours won’t necessarily align with the EPA test procedures.
Why am I hearing in the media that many mileage ratings are incorrect?
We can’t speak for everyone, but publications reporting their own test results typically don’t use the same test procedures as the EPA. So they’re already comparing apples to oranges.
What are the kinds of things that can affect my mileage?
Quick acceleration or rapid braking can negatively affect fuel economy. Anything that adds wind resistance is going to lower gas mileage, such as towing a trailer or putting a cargo carrier on top of the vehicle. Carrying heavy cargo, or a lot of people, can impact your mileage. Additional factors that can negatively affect your fuel economy include:
-The type of gasoline you use
-Driving in heavy winds
-Driving during the engine break-in period
-Using aftermarket oversize tires or wheels
-Driving in hilly or mountainous areas or on unpaved roads
-Lack of proper maintenance (dirty air or fuel filters)
-Driving at high speeds
-Running your air conditioner/defrost more than necessary
What about hybrid ratings? Those seem to be all over the place.
The EPA has stated that accurately measuring the fuel economy of hybrid vehicles is a challenge. Hybrids use a combination of gasoline an battery power; the degree to which batter power is used is heavily dependent on driving style and driving conditions.
Ford is open to working with the EPA to determine if any test procedure changes are needed for hybrid vehicles. In the meantime, there will continue to be a lot of variability in customer-reported results.
How can I get better fuel economy with my hybrid?
Fortunately, current Ford hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles come with SmartGuage with EcoGuide. This system lets the driver monitor their fuel economy in real time as they drive and shows the results when they change the way they drive.
If you have any other questions about fuel economy, or if you’d like to test drive one of Ford’s new fuel-efficient vehicles, stop by Beach Ford in Virginia Beach or Beach Ford in Suffolk and speak to a member of our helpful sales team. We’re happy to answer any of your questions.