What you need to know about fuel economy

What you need to know about fuel economy

When it comes to fuel economy, trust nobody. Even us.

Everyone drives differently. So, it’s ultimately up to you to cut through all the marketing, wishful thinking, official testing and lead-footed car reviewers to figure out how much a given car will cost you at the pump.

Here’s what you need to know about fuel economy when researching a fresh car online.

Real vs Official

Most automaker websites make bold claims about fuel economy. Take Toyota for example. At the time of writing, on their website they advertise the Corolla with a super low price of $15,995* and fuel economy of just 6.8 L/100 km* combined. Take note of the asterisks. The Corolla does commence at that price, but for a model that comes back 6.8 L/100 you’ll actually have to spend $20,475. The base $15,995 model actually comebacks 7.Four L/100 km.

And where does Toyota, and every other automaker selling cars in Canada, get those fuel economy figures? They’re all based on Natural Resources Canada’s testing method, which is going through big switches for 2015. We’ll get to that in a minute, but for now be aware of the difference inbetween the official figures and the real world figures you’ll actually get.

Natural Resources Canada ( NRC ) puts it best on their website, “Keep in mind that even the fresh ratings that better reflect everyday driving are based on standardized tests and may not accurately predict the fuel consumption you will get on the road. Your fuel consumption will vary depending on how, where and when you drive.”

Fuel economy reported by car critics in a review, may not indeed be indicative of what you’ll get either. Some critics have a bit of lead foot (guilty) while others pride themselves on being as frugal as possible. Most of my reviews for example are based primarily on gridlocked city driving, which means worst-case-scenario fuel economy.

2015 vs 2014

For two thousand fifteen model-year cars and beyond, the NRC is switching the test. According to the NRC , “these fresh test methods (5-cycle testing) result in higher fuel consumption ratings that are more representative of a vehicle’s on-road fuel consumption compared to the current (2-cycle testing) methodology.”

Don’t be astonished to see two thousand fifteen model cars with significantly worse listed fuel economy than identical two thousand fourteen models. Rest assured, the car is not less efficient than before. It’s just that now the rating is a better approximation of real-world fuel economy.

Want to compare a fresh two thousand fifteen car’s rating to an old one? NRC has you covered with this handy instrument that will estimate what older cars would have received on the two thousand fifteen test cycle.

Canada vs US

In Canada, the most common unit for measuring fuel economy is litres per one hundred kilometres, often written L/100 km. For example, 7.8 L/100 km means that a car will use 7.8-litres of gasoline for every one hundred kilometres driven.

In the US, fuel economy is voiced in miles per gallon, MPG . (Of course, because we’re talking about America, reminisce those are US gallons, not imperial gallons.) If a car is rated at thirty MPG , it’ll travel thirty miles for every one gallon of gasoline burned.

Converting from MPG to L/100 km is effortless. You don’t need a formula. All you need is Google. In the search box, type “7.8 L/100 km in MPG” and the search engine will do the math for you, returning an response of thirty MPG . And yes, those are US gallons. To convert the other way, yup, you guessed it, type “30 MPG in L/100 km” into Google.

Canada vs EU

Europe is leading the charge for tougher fuel economy standards. Their concentrate is on carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions, so you’ll often see cars on European sites or reviews with fuel economy voiced as grams of CO2 per kilometre, or g/km.

It’s fine to see some countries pushing the auto industry hard to innovate and improve efficiency. But, these g/km ratings aren’t that useful if you’re attempting to figure out how much a car will cost in fuel over a given year.

For comparison’s sake, the current EU target is for a fleet average of one hundred thirty g/km in 2015. According to the European Commission, that is harshly equivalent to Four.9 L/100 km for a diesel car, or Five.6 L/100 km with gasoline. The EU target for two thousand twenty one is ninety five g/km, which equals Three.6 L/100 km diesel, or Four.1 L/100 km gasoline.

For more info and to compare Canadian vehicles by fuel efficiency, visit this NRC website.

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