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20 Years Of Gas Mileage: All Cars Improving, But Hybrids Best Page 2


2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco

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For 2012, Chevy also offers the Cruze model--which meets mid-size standards--and its Cruze Eco version recorded an impressive 30 mpg overall.  That's almost a 43-percent improvement over that 1992 Lumina.

There's also the pricier and more advanced Volt range-extended electric car. After covering more than 12,000 miles since January 2011, our family Volt is getting 112 mpg!

Ford Taurus v Fusion

Back in 1992, Ford‘s standard bearer in the mid-size family sedan category was the Taurus, tested with a 21 mpg average that hadn't changed by 2002.

In 2007 the family sedan from Ford became the Fusion, which the EPA rated at 23 mpg overall.

Now, in 2012, the newest Fusion gets another small improvement at 24 mpg. Ford introduced the Fusion Hybrid in 2010, which delivered an overall 39 mpg average--or more than a 60-percent improvement in gas mileage.

2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid

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The all-new 2013 Ford Fusion--shown at January's Detroit Auto Show--will likely deliver far better mileage, as it dispenses altogether with a V-6 option and instead offers three four-cylinder engines: 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter EcoBoost direct-injected and turbocharged options, along with a standard base-level 2.5-liter four.

The new model will include not only a Fusion Hybrid, but Ford's first-ever plug-in hybrid sedan, the 2013 Fusion Energi--using the same technology that will also appear in the five-seat hatchback C-Max Fusion and C-Max Energi.

Ford has said the 2013 Fusion Energi will beat the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid in its overall MPGe fuel-efficiency equivalent rating.

Volkswagen Passat

Among German mid-size family sedans, the Volkswagen Passat has followed the same path. In 1992, it produced 22 mpg overall--and that number stayed constant 10 years later, in 2002. Five years later, in 2007, it had improved slightly to 24 mpg, and for 2012, the base Passat delivers 26 mpg overall.

For 2012, there's also the diesel-engined Passat TDI, which is EPA-rated at 35 mpg overall. And owners of the smaller Jetta TDI say their real-world mileage is higher than the EPA ratings, so the Passat TDI may be even better than its 35-mpg rating.

Hyundai

The best improvement in general fuel mileage by a now major player comes from Hyundai. In 1992 the standard bearer for the Hyundai mid-size segment was its Sonata, at 20 mpg overall--actually one of the worst ratings in that competitive category. 

2012 Hyundai Sonata

2012 Hyundai Sonata

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By 2002, the Sonata was EPA certified at 23 mpg overall and in 2007 incremented again to 25 mpg. 

The newest Sonata for 2012 produces 28 mpg overall, a 40 percent improvement compared to that 1992 version. 

In addition for 2012 Hyundai offers a hybrid version of its Sonata, which the EPA rates at 37 mpg overall--or an 85-percent improvement over the fuel use for the Sonata 20 years ago.

Gas gets better, alternatives more so

Clearly, the message in this overview is that with conventional gas engines, incremental improvements of 20 percent are possible over a 20-year span, and we will see further advances in the future from smaller engines that use less fuel to develop the same power.

For really large gains, alternative technology seems to be necessary. Diesel as a fuel option has given VW a huge forward step in reducing fuel use, but the major increment appears to be from hybrid applications.

Hybrid powered vehicles should regularly produce 40-plus mpg in the near future, and plug-in hybrids and full electrics have the promise to reduce our weekly fuel bills and free us from dependence on the international oil market.

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Comments (12)
  1. Those gas miles improvement are pathetic compared to the huge increase in the car's price. 2 and 3 MPG improvement is pathetic when 30 or 40 years ago GM had an 89 MPG car for under $5 thousand. People will be paying $5,000 yr. for gas and if they buy a hybrid they will be making $6,000 yr, or more, payment and still paying $4,000 yr for gas and oil. That is beyond the means of the working class person with a family. So where is the savings in buying a hybrid? Their price puts them out of the range of 70% of the working class who holds minimum wage jogs. Nothing like living off the backs of the poor.
     
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  2. @James,
    Wow, I thought I had kept the pulse of the car market, and I have religiously followed the introduction of cars for over 50 years at least ( being an older contributors here), so please enlighten me on that "89 MPG car for under $5 thousand" available back in 1972?

    I remind you, that our salaries have had inflationary adjustments over the years, and in my career back in 1972 starting salary was about $11,500 and today starting salary is closer to $60,000. This is about a 5.2 times higher income to cover the living costs today. A 3year old Prius can be bought for $14K in my area, and annual fuel costs would be about $1200 at $4/gallon. You are absolutely right that min. wage job persons are hurt in this setting for sure
     
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  3. I was recently comparing (for a colleague) a Honda Fit (non-hybrid) to a Prius C (hybrid) at 7,000 miles/year and $4/gallon, payback was 8 years. Driving a little more per year would make the payoff quicker. But starting at $19,000 make the Prius C hybrid more affordable than ever, but right, at minimum wage, it is not going to happen.

    My colleague makes a decent salary, is interested in hybrids, but as soon as I mentioned 8 years, he was no longer interested. Not sure what is holding him back.
     
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  4. Hey George - I know you've paid little for energy and gas but you've spent over 80K on those two cars and, god knows how much, on your solar panels. You can stick it to the $4K/year families but theoretically and financially most of them are still ahead even though they're not as loaded... I have the LEAF and I can make the case for our side all day long but c'mon, let's be real.
     
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  5. Here's another twist to the story... That 1992 Accord is actually smaller than 2012 Civic (or identical when you combine passenger and cargo space.) The Civic has many more safety features and the fuel economy is roughly 50% higher. Comparing just model names is not fair since most current compacts are just bigger and heavier than midsize cars 20 years ago (put two Tauruses side by side :-) )... If you compare apples to apples, the fuel economy improvement (along with safety and emissions) has been quite dramatic.
     
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  6. @Red Baron,
    Good point on the size escalation of many car models. The article tried to stay with what are classed over the years as "mid-size vehicles," and traced specific models over that 20 year period. Yes, the current Civic and Corolla for that matter are bigger than tos models 20 years ago, and they do get better mileage now than their previous "big brothers."

    The Passat TDI seems like a most solid practical "buy" for economy and room without the extreme extra cost of hybrid tech.

    For anybody living in a reasonably sunny area, going solar does "pencil out." For Western US PG&E customers solar PV pays for itself in about 6.5 years! After that...all gravy. We are saving about $6000/year with our EVs and ZERO home electric cost.
     
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  7. @Red Baron,
    But continuing...

    the big mileage gains, looking at today's hybrids vs conventional ICE models is from the newer hybrid and other drivetrain MAJOR changes, like diesel.

    Yes, as I noted, conventional engine technology has shown 20+% fuel reduction over the last 20 years, but to reach the further goals of massively reduced Middle East oil dependence, ICE technology by itself improving appears to absolutely NOT offer that promise.

    Only by moving strongly to more hybrid technology and/or other new motive power systems will we see the national goal of 50+mpg be met...and at a national average of 50 mpg....we would be reducing our fuel use in this country by well OVER 50% compared to our current pattern of use !
     
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  8. 50% cut would make this country self-sufficient but the "true patriots" down here will never give up their F-150s or install some sissy solar panels. Blowing up mountains in VA and sending cash to our friends in Saudi Arabia (it was Iraq who brought the towers down after all) is still very much patriotic and true American way.
    As long as CA doesn't let TX and GA take over the electoral voting power, we should be moving (albeit slowly) in the right direction...
     
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  9. With the current system of incentives in Massachusetts, along with the low cost of solar panels, people will put solar panels on your house for free. You just pay them a little each month just like your electric bill (only slightly less).
     
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  10. Not sure about the Passat TDI avoiding the "extreme extra cost of hybrid tech. Passat TDI is $26K versus the Prius at $24K.
     
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  11. John,
    Based on my extended ownership of a 2000 and 2002 Passat a 2004 Prius and a 2007 Camry Hybrid, I would put the Passat as a much more upscale car than the Prius and more directly comparable to the fully outfitted Camry. We paid right at $30k for our Camry Hybrid and even a stripper in that line would have been north of $26k....5 years ago. So I still hold the TDI system seems like a more simple and less costly was to get to 50% gains in fuel conservation.
     
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  12. Two points.
    1) If you are doing city driving (which I do) the 30 mpg city of the Passat TDI is terrible compared to the 51 mpg of the Prius.

    2) Not sure how common this is but my sister-in-law had a 2000 Jetta that was nothing but trouble from the first six month. The transmission shifting was terrible from R to D, check engine lights constantly on, and the vehicle was dead at 60,000 miles for excessive oil consumption. She will never buy a VW again. Now has a Honda Fit for three years with no problems.

    However, the interior of the Jetta was very nice and ride quality was good.

    Also worth pointing out that a Prius C is coming at a price of $19K, which will far undercut diesels on price and city MPG.
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