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Why has fuel economy of new cars dropped?

I have a 2004 2door manual transmission Honda Civic that I drive mostly highway and some city, and in the summer (it likes the heat) I routinely get 40-45 mpg. In the not too distant future, we need to replace our older car (a 2001 4 door manual Civic (that still gets a respectable 35mpg). I was shocked to find out that none of the non-hybrid new cars can match my current vehicle–best are in the high 30s, even the Honda Fit which would fit in the trunk of our older car. What happened? How could the best fuel economy drop in 8 years??

There are several new cars (regular gas) that have 40 mpg highway scores. I expect that number to increase with the rise in CAFE requirements. Also, todays EPA estimates are lower than they were several years ago because the prior ones were judged to be optimistic. So the identical car would now have lower EPA ratings.

But it’s true that the added weight from crash protection and the added hp that people like has resulted in lower mpgs, compared to 10+ years ago.

AND…
’‘truth in advertizing’’ corrections( to show more real world numbers ) have been adjusted for the complainers who just can’t seem to squeeze out the mpg to the aforementioned stats.

The EPA estimate is just that: an estimate. Useful only for comparing one model to another.
From fueleconomy.gov the estimate for the 2004 manual Civic is 31mpg city, 39 mpg highway.
So you are beating the estimate. Good for you!

As has been said, you really can’t compare your actual mileage to EPA rated mileage.

In addition, cars have most likely gotten safer and quieter in the 8 years since you purchased your current Civic.

Sound deadening, airbags and all the electronic toys that everyone loves create weight; and weight costs gas mileage.

Most car models have grown heavier and are equipped with ever larger engines…The reason? “That’s what Americans want”…But as the upcoming CAFE standards start to bite, cars will once again become lighter in weight and come with smaller engines…Unless of course the Republicans gut those standards “to allow the free market to work”…

As I understand it the emission controls are the biggest factor in reduced mileage, seems bass akwords somehow.

No longer are the emissions controls a problem, the computers do a very good job of optimizing combustion. Years ago emissions controls resulted in lower compression ratios, which cut mpgs. Now, compression ratios are MUCH higher than that, all thanks to careful combustion chamber design and computer engine management. Engines today are more efficient than they were before pollution controls.

I hear you @texases but new cars today seem to struggle to get 30mpg, and many older cars did better! I have an 03 blazer 6 cyl that got 26 mpg to MN and back last week, This 2012 accord does the same. No 4wd room for the pets, 5500lb towing capacity etc.

http://fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/31683.shtml

Low weight and low power does wonders! Many cars today have more horsepower than early '80s Corvettes, and weigh more, too.

Yes but tell me why a 2003 trailblazer, 4wd option 5500 lb towing capacity, room for 5 passengers 2 dogs and 2 cats and luggage should get the same mileage as an accord, less room less size, no towing package installed, and probably limited towing capacity. And plenty of power on demand, I am missing something.

EPA lists the Trailblazer at 13/19 city highway, a 2012 Accord 4 cyl at 24/34. Reported average is 15 for the Trailblazer, 25 for the Accord. What do you get?

You did not click on the link for the accord from the epa,so here ya go
http://fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/31683.shtml

Normally 16 city 23 highway for the trailblazer, I attribute the extra 3mpg to no ethanol fuels. It was listed on the factory tag as 16 city and 23 hwy.

2003 4dr SUV 275-horsepower 4.2L I6
4-speed automatic 4WD w/low range flat light none 0 5 35 60 60 20.6
flat light none 10 20 10 60 65 22.0
flat light none 5 20 40 35 60 16.0
flat med none 5 70 5 20 60 13.0
flat light none 0 0 10 90 65 22.5

Yeah, that Accord Coupe/6cyl/6 speed manual is low. The 4 door 6 cyl with the auto is 20/30, with 23 average reported. Wonder why so low for the coupe?

And I bet, given the good mpgs you get with your Trailblazer, you’d beat 20/30 with the Accord sedan.

The methodology the EPA uses to calculate fuel economy estimates was heavily revised in 2008. This results in lower, but more realistic fuel economy estimates. The cars aren’t actually less efficient than they used to be. With the pre-08 estimates, it was difficult, but not impossible to duplicate the MPG numbers, with the new estimates, the estimates are much closer to what the average person can realistically expect.

@Barkydog
Your vehicles is rated for 19 MPG on the highway as you can see here
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=19147
Are you sure you got 26 MPG? That’s even better than the pre 2008 estimate of 21 MPG. How did you arrive at the 26 MPG figure?

Your previous generation Honda Civics are much lighter and smaller than today’s Civics. Try something more like a manual transmission Honda Fit and I think your EPA ratings will be more comparable.

The Skyactiv Mazda 3 is estimated for 40mpg highway. Have a go in one of them.

Lets also not forget than a larger motor has to work less pulling the same weight as a smaller motor; which is why some large trucks get similar, or even better MPG with a V8 vs a V6

@fodaddy I averaged the gallons of gas needed by miles driven, 531miles all together, need receipts and routes as I took the back roads? Getting there to drive vs driving to get there.

Your Blazer got 26mpg on a interstate trip…A new Accord is rated at 34mpg highway…If you own a 2012 Accord and it’s only getting 26mpg on the road, then something is wrong with it or you are going 90 mph or driving into a 30 mph headwind…

We usually get 33mpg on our Lexus Es-350 on interstate trips. Wife usually averages about 25 for daily use. I suspect the Accord is about the same…maybe even a little better since it weighs less.