WASHINGTON—A new study by Consumer Reports found that Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy labels on new cars accurately reflect the vehicle's real-world gas mileage, a relationship that previously was not always the case.
“Consumers should be able to trust that the estimate they see on the label accurately reflects their gas mileage,” Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said in a news release.
“We're glad that today, consumers will be getting more accurate information than they did in the past.”
The new study updates 2005 analysis which found the EPA label claims differed significantly from the fuel-economy tests that Consumer Reports conducted. In the earlier analysis, the EPA label was off by an average of 10 percent or 3.3 mpg. The discrepancy, Consumer Reports said, was due to the EPA's outdated testing procedures, which later were updated.
In 2008, the EPA began to factor faster driving speeds, faster acceleration, air conditioning use and colder temperatures into its testing. With those changes, Consumer Reports found that its own analysis more closely aligned with the EPA. Nearly 400 vehicles with model years 2009 to 2016 were tested by Consumer Reports and the data from those tests differed from the EPA figures by an average of 3 percent or 0.8 mpg.
Additionally, the EPA recently released its latest Fuel Economy Trends report, which found that fuel economy reached a record high of 24.8 MPG—an increase of 28 percent since 2004, according to Consumer Reports. The EPA report also noted that auto makers are not sacrificing performance to improve fuel economy as vehicle horsepower remains at record highs, even as fuel economy has improved throughout the last decade.
Overall, the EPA report found that auto makers continue to exceed fuel-economy standards, while passenger trucks and SUVs also are achieving record fuel economy.
“The latest trends show that the government's fuel-economy program is working,” Baker-Branstetter said in a statement. “Fuel economy is improving across the board, and consumers today have greater choices for fuel-efficient vehicles of all types.”
Surveys recently conducted by Consumers Union found that consumers place a high value on fuel economy when making car-buying decisions.