We don’t trust the trip computers in our test cars. It is for that reason that Consumer Guide has always purchased our own fuel for test cars. There’s simply no better way to gauge the mileage of a vehicle than to actually measure the fuel being used.
In very general terms, the mileage readouts in most vehicles we test tend to be a little optimistic; some have been extremely optimistic. Our numbers, however, represent real-world driving by real commuters.
We fully admit that we are unable to replicate identical test conditions for each and every vehicle that comes our way. The fact is, our driving needs, the weather, and even traffic conditions vary to such a degree that precise measurement is impossible. Still, we believe our numbers better reflect what real consumers will see as owners of these vehicles than the estimates provided by the EPA.
Presented here are five vehicles we’ve tested in the past six months or so. These are the cars and trucks that went the farthest on a gallon of fuel while in our care. These aren’t necessarily the stingiest vehicles you can buy, just the stingiest we’ve recently seen. We’ll post another six at the end of the year.
Cadillac ELR: 90.1 mpg
EPA Rating (MPGe/gas-only combined) 82/33
Measuring energy consumption for vehicle that combines a gas engine with plug-in capability is a messy business. So many variables can affect the observed mileage. Had we been a little more careful, we might have used no gas at all. Still, during the week the ELR was in our care, we drove it like any other vehicle in our fleet and saw almost 100 mpg.
Honda Accord Hybrid: 38.3 mpg*
EPA Rating (city/Highway): 50/45
We asterisk this number because our test of the Accord Hybrid came during an epic Chicago cold snap. Temperatures during our evaluation never exceeded 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, nearly 40 mpg from a roomy, classy, functional sedan is nothing to sneeze at.
BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon: 34.0 mpg
EPA Rating (city/Highway): 31/43
An enthusiast’s dream, our test 3-Series diesel came in all-wheel-drive wagon form, though sadly with an automatic transmission. Still, we saw a thrifty 34-mpg. This from a practical car that has plenty of power and is all sorts of fun to drive.
Mitsubishi Mirage: 33.3 mpg*
EPA Rating (city/Highway): 37/44
Like the Honda Accord Hybrid, our test Mirage arrived during an oppressive cold snap. Still, our test car returned better than 33 mpg with the available CVT automatic transmission.
Mazda 6: 32.1 mpg
EPA Rating (city/Highway): 28/40
No tiny engine, plugging in, diesel fuel, or even manual transmission here, just straight-up good fuel economy. Our long-term Mazda 6 has traveled almost 9600 miles so far, on just under 300 gallons of gas–this from a car that is roomy, sporty, and perfect for long trips.
Not seeing the fuel economy you expected from your vehicle? Rick explains why: