Consumer Reports Ranks U.S.’ Most Fuel Efficient Vehicles


BMW i3

BMW i3

Consumer Reports does not rely upon EPA ratings in its testing.

Rather, the consumer magazine has its own methodology that it believes more closely mimics real-world fuel consumption numbers. Consumer Reports states:

“Measuring fuel economy is among our more than 50 tests we conduct on each car we purchase. Our fuel economy numbers are derived from a precision flow meter and are rounded to the nearest mile per gallon (mpg).

CR’s overall mileage is calculated from equal portions of city and highway driving.

The chart that follows features the most fuel-efficient cars currently sold that Consumer Reports has tested (see our list of the most fuel-efficient SUVs). Also see our Ratings comparison by category (available to online subscribers), which lists each vehicle’s overall mileage.”

After extensive testing, Consumer Reports release this Top 20 list of the U.S.’ most fuel efficient vehicles:

Consumer Reports' Ranking

Consumer Reports’ Ranking

* = MPGe
** = MPG on gas only

Consumer Reports via BMWBLOG

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50 Comments on "Consumer Reports Ranks U.S.’ Most Fuel Efficient Vehicles"

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Did this test specifically exclude diesel passenger vehicles? VW 2.0 TDI powertrains are conspicuously absent. Or did CR somehow trip the emissions control equipment so it worked, hence the poorer results and ensuing omissions from the above list?

Consumer Reports tests only cars they actually buy anonymously, to avoid auto makers giving them something better than average to test. Obviously they can’t afford to buy every car.

The VW/Audi 2.0L TDI ‘Clean’ Diesel vehicles are missing because they have all been recalled due to the VW installed ‘switch’ software that fakes emission results, when the diesels are actually 40 times over the level limit for diesel emissions.

VW/Audi vehicles that were ‘recommended’ by CR have had the recommendation removed.

If they haven’t corrected for the modification to mileage from cheating the EPA rules then you’d get an unfairly high MPG. Let’s see how the mileage comes out after they’ve readjusted the software to make the car compliant.

Glad to see me Focus up there. I went 50 miles from Camarillo to the Alt Car Expo in Santa Monica yesterday on 9.7kWh.(exactly 50% charge). Today I will take the i3 50 miles to the Goleta NDEW event. Will see how it does. Too bad they didnt test the 500e, Spark, B class on here. What I thought though…the i3 gets DOUBLE the efficiency of a Model S in the city. And my LEAF gets BETTER economy when I take highway trips.

Make sense for what I’ve experienced.
Ford Focus has a pretty good regenerative braking while the Leaf has been made with very conservative (poor) regenerative braking.
Nissan is conserveative in many area concerning the charge or decharging rate of their battery.
Seems the numbers here tells it all.

The numbers tell it all? That the Focus’ overall MPGe is one point better than the LEAF? C’mon.

Might be because you’r focussing on the overall MPG and that your’ not in a 50/50% blend of highway and city used by CR.
The Leaf does it better on the highway and that’s what I observed.

I’m willing to bet that in the city they used the Leaf in the D mode and without ECO activated. Or perhaps it was a 2011/2 Leaf rather than 2013+.

With a 2013+, ECO+B mode, you get fabulous performance in the city. We easily average over 4 miles/kWh city, year-round with our 2014.

Is Prius Four giving only 32 MPG city, that sounds like a bogus. And Prius C Two is only 43 overall, something is badly wrong with their testing of Hybrids.

They must be driving the city cycle relatively aggressively. The Volt got 23 mpg on gas in the city cycle. I usually get around 34 to 38 mpg in the city and 40 to 43 on the hwy.

I agree. I used to have several Prii and they all did much better than that in city driving.

Ted, are the Consumer Report results wrong based on your experience of what your car’s computer is telling you? That means you trust the manufacturer not to mislead you on the miles/gallon you’re getting. I wonder how many people actually track the mpg through old school methods of saving your gas receipts and mileage records every time they fill up. Assuming the car is accurately tracking miles driven, this should be a very accurate method of determining mpg.

I track the mileage on my Prius using “old school” methods, and I am generally within the EPA rating of 48/51. My car’s computer estimate isn’t that far off, usually 2-3 MPG too high.

And one doesn’t need receipts and a calculator anyway. If I drive 500 miles and put 10 gallons in, it doesn’t take a math genius to figure it out.

Prius models don’t do well in real world testing. They game the EPA tests. Try putting snow tires on one and see what happens.

Yet I beat EPA real world in my 2005 Prius.

No, it isn’t that Prius doesn’t do well in real world. It’s that CR is running them with low tire pressure and accelerating aggressively.

Or maybe you’re hypermiling.

Real-world gasmobile MPG tests and EV range tests should aim at testing cars on a level playing field, not testing driving techniques. When it comes to hypermiling, MPG and EV range have more to do with the individual driver’s techniques than the performance of the car. That’s not much help when it comes to comparing cars.

Our ’08 still averages 45.7 MPG with 130k miles on it.

MPGe is meaningless!
M/kWh should be used.

Yes, I’m sad to see that Consumer Reports has jumped on the bandwagon of using the rather meaningless metric of “MPGe”.

M/kWh = MPGe / 33.7 kWh/G

= feet*nose/stone-bath tub*squirrel rpm’s on a treadmill.

Or in other words… MPGe sucks.

Or Wh/km

That’s apallingly stone-aged. kWh/100 km should be used! The entire “miles per gallon” meme is backwards, because it means that as fuel efficiency increases, the miles per gallon numbers goes up exponentially. At the bottom end of efficiency, a difference of 1 mpg makes a big difference, but at the top end, a difference of 1 mpg is hardly noticeable at all, and those numbers become increasingly deceptive.

When you turn that around, you see that a great increase in efficiency only nets you a small difference in consumption over a set distance. There’s a point of diminishing returns.

Also, y’all should be using the metric system like the rest of the world.

MPG and MPGe is so out of date, go metric and use what the rest of the world use.
The USA needs to catch up.

It is NOT meaningless. It provides a great way to emphasize how much more efficient EVs are than gas cars.

AND, the EPA sticker also gives some type of miles/KWH number too.

So stop this whining.

A Tesla does not get 102 miles per gallon electric

Speculawyer said:

“It is NOT meaningless. It provides a great way to emphasize how much more efficient EVs are than gas cars.”

It might if it were applied consistently. Since it’s not, since it’s applied in an inconsistent manner, often using arbitrary choices, it’s pretty far from being a level-playing-field comparison between different cars.

“So stop this whining.”

Perhaps you should take your own advice.

It is NOT arbitrary.

It is an EPA standard.

EPA converts miles/kWh or Wh/100 miles into MPGe by using 33.7kWh/gallon as the energy conversion factor.

So, it is direct conversion to demostrate how much more efficient EVs are over its ICE counterpart or how wasteful ICE are with 1 gallon of gas in terms of energy.

More bogus CR-shit for the CR-sheep. CR has outlived its usefulness. With the internet and all sorts of better information available, why does this organization exist any more?

But, but. . . What the heck is going on here?

My Leaf routinely gets well over 4Mi/kWh in mild conditions (no A/C, no heat, no real hills) with ≈75% freeway, and averages ≈4 (give or take a little) over a full 4 seasons with climate control on.
It also does slightly better round town than on the freeway.

This suggests to me an MPGe of 36.4(kWh/gal) x4, or around 145 MPGe.
I don’t see anything remotely as bad as CR’s 86/118 MPGe!
Am I missing something? And how does a Ford Focus E do so much better than a largely similar Leaf?

Am I just another casualty in the “What the heck is MPGe all about?” game?
Anyone shed any light?
I guess if I drove around like a full-on demented teenager I could approach CR’s numbers.
I used to think the utility of MPGe was limited to EV-EV comparisons. Now I’m not even sure about that!

MPGe annoys me. Why are we using archaic petroleum-derived liquid measurements to demonstrate the efficiency of a vehicle that doesn’t use said liquids to operate? They don’t even supply a meaningful comparison between electric and gas vehicles. And why are we even bothering to try to formulate the MPGe of plug in hybrids, when these values are entirely dependent on the drivers trip and charge.

Yes, MPGe is a little clunky but it does provide a very valuable comparison to gasoline engines. It shows how much more efficient EVs are. (And yes, it is a good comparison on a pure miles/unit energy basis.)

And the EPA sticker also provides some type of miles/KWH figure too.

kubel asked:

“And why are we even bothering to try to formulate the MPGe of plug in hybrids, when these values are entirely dependent on the drivers trip and charge.”

Yes, it’s downright stupid to give any sort of rating for PHEVs that mixes electric-powered miles with gas-powered miles.

Data and ratings for electric-powered miles should always be kept entirely separate from data and ratings for gas-powered miles. Mixing them together renders the data and the ratings meaningless. Too bad the EPA hasn’t figured that out yet.

EPA uses MPGe for direct comparison of “energy” used. Gallon is just there to compare with legacy vehicles that more people understands

33.7kWh = energy content of 1 gallon of gasoline.

“After extensive testing, Consumer Reports release this Top 20 list”
Extensive testing sounds like people driving them for several months and this was the result.
Using a flow meter on gas sounds like they’re taking steps to remove any false information the cars computers might tell the driver.
After the lies from the auto manufacturers (1 after the next), I’m more inclined to believe this information than any other.

Um, do I need new glasses, or did they just report that all the EVs get worse mileage in town than on the freeway?

Because that’s completely contrary to the experience I have in my own Nissan Leaf. Nevermind the fact that we get some 7.5 km/kwh over the lifetime of the car. My wife doesn’t drive it particularly gently on the freeway during her normal commute either.

I’m curious about this as well.

Not everyone seems to do better in city.
Wiht my MY 2012 Leaf, I do notice that I get better range cruising on highway at moderate speed than what I can get in city at lower speed.
The generative braking ain’t 100% efficient, far from it, and acceleration take it’s toll on range too.
So those number do fit with my experience in a quick browsing manner.

Consumer Reports has had this metric wrong for the last three years (at least for the Leaf and i-MiEV), and has still not corrected it. Specifically, low-speed driving, even if stop-and-go with regen, is still far more efficient for electric vehicles than the aerodynamic drag penalty experienced at higher speeds. My i-MiEVs can readily exceed 80 miles in city driving, whereas the EPA rating of 62 miles is probably barely doable at 65mph. Unfortunately, CR does not publish their exact testing procedure. Mileage is so dependent on an individual driver’s skills that the EPA’s is probably the most objective test we can hope for.

So I assume they ignored the Fiat 500e and Spark EV because they are not available nationwide.

“Top 20 list of the U.S.’ most fuel efficient vehicles”

Only issue is EVs don’t use oxygen burning FUEL … instead relying on energy storage. ie: charging an EV does not add/remove matter, it just changes state. (ions created to store charge)


Why isn’t my Kia Soul EV on this list????

E-golf also beats i3 I am sure – not on list ?

I’d really doubt an e-golf would best out the carbon fiber lightweight i3.

Interesting….the Focus Electric gets 1 better overall better MPGe than the Leaf SL, and 22 better mpg in the city. While the Leaf gets 11 better mpg on the highway. If one had 50/50 city.hwy driving the Focus Electric would come out with 11 more mpg.

Seeing the Mitsubishi I-MiEV at number two it does make me wonder what the Outlander PHEV will achieve.
Maybe the number one spot, if only it was available in the USA.

There’s something wrong with this list. There are only five battery electric vehicles on this list. I know of several battery electric vehicles that are more fuel efficient than the Volkswagen Jetta hybrid.

I would like to see a $ cost per mile driven, as well as a cost to own for 5 years, 10 years….
This is what it actually boils down to…… The comparison done here by CR is extremely misleading and confusing in my opinion.