Real-World Gas Mileage Varies By Brand; Honda Does Well, Ford Not So Much

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2013 Honda Insight

2013 Honda Insight

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Just how close do cars get to their official EPA gas mileage figures?

We expect it's a question many of our readers are familiar with--either in keeping an eye on their own car's gas mileage, or from friends asking about their next car.

It's become all the more important in recent months, with high-profile criticism for makers like Ford, whose recent hybrid models struggle to attain the figures returned in EPA testing. And while some cars routinely struggle to reach their official numbers, other cars are often much better in the real world--as Volkswagen diesel owners are often all too eager to point out!

We decided to browse some of the more well-known gas-sipping models using's roster of driver-inputted numbers, to see which models fare best, and which aren't so good in the real world. It's looking good for Honda and Volkswagen, but not so much for Ford...




Honda CR-Z
EPA: 34/37 mpg combined (manual/CVT)
Real world: 37-40 mpg

The economy of Honda's sporty compact hybrid might have disappointed some critics at launch, but in the real world the hybrid hatchback actually does a lot better--averaging as high as 40 mpg for many drivers. Dive further into the figures, and there's no clear distinction between manual or auto either--suggesting driving style, rather than transmission, matters most for the CR-Z.

Honda Insight
EPA: 42 mpg combined
Real world: 43-46 mpg

Another much maligned Honda, the Insight seems able to beat its official 42 mpg figure by as much as 10 percent. 2012's sample of 48 cars is faring best, with up to 46.4 mpg on average. Figures well into the 50s aren't uncommon for individual users, and only a handful are doing less than 38 mpg--the Insight really does punch above its weight. It's also one of the cheapest hybrids on sale, so represents a good way of getting high mileage for less money.

Volkswagen Jetta TDI
EPA: 34 mpg combined
Real world: 38-39 mpg

All those VW drivers are right--the Jetta TDI really does attain better numbers than the EPA credits it. While officially rated at 34 mpg combined, drivers in the real world are averaging closer to 38 or 39 mpg--14 percent better than quoted. Dozens of drivers are even getting numbers in the high 40s, but after then it tails off. For any driver doing mostly highway miles, the appeal of VW's TDI models is clear to see.


Head to page 2 for those matching the EPA numbers, and page 3 for those falling short...

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