Fuel-Sipper Smackdown 4: Which Car Gets the Best Fuel Economy?

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,237
edited September 2014 in General

imageFuel-Sipper Smackdown 4: Which Car Gets the Best Fuel Economy?

Edmunds.com tests the Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Optima Hybrid, Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Jetta TDI to see which gets the best fuel economy in the city and on the highway.

Read the full story here



  • drinnovationdrinnovation Member Posts: 0
    I cannot help but comment on the statement "Two of our editors picked it as their favorite car, even though they admitted that buying one didn't make financial sense." This was applied to one car, but realistically, buying any new car does not make financial sense.. a good used car is always more cost efficient. And as soon as its balancing economy and quality/comfort, its a personal choice.

    Maybe someday you should do a fuel-sipper based on something normal, like daily comutes. Telling us about trips through death valley to Vegas, is about day tripping performance. I'd think the fuel sipper test would be a week of commuting, maybe measured over 2-3 different commutes (downtown, suburbs, freeway). Even here your "city loop", was 180miles in a day. What is that supposed to represent, a taxi driver?
  • jeffurjeffur Member Posts: 0
    As a Volt owner I can see why your people like driving the Volt. If you buy cars in the Volts price range, BMWs and the like, you will love the Volt. Any new car at any price doesn't make much financial sense. We buy what we like to drive for no other reason really. The Volt allows you to have fun driving and avoid using gas. I drive 98% of the time on the battery only. After 9200 miles I've used less than 20 gallons of gas in 7 months. I love not buying and burning gas and polluting our air.

    The Volt is an electric car with a gas back-up auxiliary power generator.

    Drive electric. Live free!
  • drmp1drmp1 Member Posts: 1
    Your title "fuel sipper smack down" is not a balanced report if you don't include the standard bearer of fuel economy which is the Prius.

    The previous smack down has the Prius average at 47 something mpg.

    Also, where is the 2012 Camry hybrid, Prius V, and the new Insight.

    I pressume that the Volt is fully charged before the start of the day, therefore, there should be a separate number of actual mpg which is the total distance traveled of each day minus 40 miles to represent the real fuel consumption of the Volt without the help of the grid electricity.

    With or with out grid electrity the Volt is annihilated by the Prius on this kind of test.
  • se_riouslyse_riously Member Posts: 94
    Looking at fuel sipper smackdown #2, the Prius get's close to 50 mpg in all conditions.

    While I understand the point of this smackdown is to test newer cars with a claimed 40 mpg, the fact of the matter is that there isn't anything new that seriously challenges the tried and true champ.
  • peraltaperalta Member Posts: 94
    Here is the 2 MPG numbers of the Volt in the test given the fact that the battery has a 4o mile range..

    Day 1 country road 425.5 miles
    Edmunds = 36.1 mpg
    Gas only mode = 32.7 mpg

    Day 2 city driving 179,1 miles
    Edmunds = 44.8 mpg
    Gas only mode = 34.8 mpg

    Day 3 Highway driving 230 miles
    Edmunds = 45.2 mpg
    Gas only mode = 37.3 mpg

    Overall 834.6 miles
    Edmunds = 41 mpg
    Gas only mode = 35.1

    Below is my take on the the Volt in gas only mode.

    As you can see, the Volt on the country roads (gas only mode) is as good as any other fuel efficient mid size sedans at 32.7 mpg.

    On city driving (gas only mode), at 34.8 mpg the volt is roughly as good as any other mid size hybrid cars (hybrid fusion, camry, sonata, altima).

    On highway driving (gas only mode) at 35.1 mpg is again about the same as most mid sized hybrid cars mentioned above.

    Overall gas only mode of 35.1 mpg is also the same as most mid size hybrid if you double check with actual drivers' input at fueleconomy.gov website.

    I believe that the weight of the volt being in the midsize category due to the heavy battery produced gas-only-mpg results that is consistent with that of mid size hybrid sedans.

    Wait a minute! What about the prius? Well, the prius beats the Volt (in gas-only-mode) the same way it beats the other mid size hybrid sedans in fuel consumption.
  • peraltaperalta Member Posts: 94
    I believe the way to sell the Volt is by telling the truth.

    The Volt has 40 miles electric range. After that, the mileage is better than all mid size sedans and as good as any mid size hybid sedans (hybrid versions of Camry, fusion, Sonata, Altima, Optima). However, after 40 miles, the gas only mileage is not as good as the Prius. But the Prius does not have the comfort and performance of a mid size sedan either.
  • mrh1965mrh1965 Member Posts: 6
    I'm impressed with the Jetta's city MPG, which is the only figure that matters in the real world. How about a hybrid smackdown, especially when one of GM's eAssist models is available? I'm curious to see what the Malibu will be able to do. I'd like a 30mpg city sedan.
  • dat2dat2 Member Posts: 251
    Would love to have seen the Honda Fit and Mazda 2 included in this test!!
  • tangoavengertangoavenger Member Posts: 1
    This is a great review except for two very important facts.
    1. Most people will primarily be concerned with mileage and driveability while commuting, in rush hour traffic, on a combination of freeway and surface streets, something they didn't even give lip service to. Do we spend most of our time driving to Vegas, through Death Valley, or going to/from work?
    2. Rarely in the article is the purchase price of the vehicle even mentioned! This is a HUGE factor in chosing a car, especially when comparing a $40,000 car to $16,000 cars. One would assume that the consumer is especially concerned with these factors, if they are reading this article.
  • gclaridgegclaridge Member Posts: 1
    Im glad to see the tdi did so well. as the proud owner of an 03 with over 250,000 miles, i can attest to its frugal fuel usage and longevity. i am shocked though that the new tdi engineers at vw, with all the latest diesel add-on technical devices, have somehow managed to discourage my thought of purchasing the new model as a replacement. with test results of barely 40 and as low as 29 mpg i guess ill be heading back to the gassers when (or rather if) my little jetta dies on me. i travel this same route semi-annually on business and almost always average 50 mpg. even in city use, i average 50 mpg. nothing changes. so what has happened to ruin the tdi?

    the only downside i have experienced in 8 years of ownership is the maintenance. whereas i can get my wife's honda, and my chevrolet truck serviced for under 35 dollars, my tdi's 5000 mile intervals cost me nearly 100 (as high as 130 if i use the dealer network). synthetic oil and fuel filter servicing the main culprits.

    the addage, a good thing never lasts, apparently applies here.
  • dissapointed10dissapointed10 Member Posts: 0
    recently bought a 2012 elantra. your test results were exactly the same as mine. hyundai found a way to cheat the new mpg ratings. if you are buying this car for the mileage dont do it. this has been the first car i have not been able to achieve at least the mpg ratings and this is supposed to be more accurate method. buy a honda or toyota i still own both and they get better then they claim on mpg.
  • speculawyerspeculawyer Member Posts: 1
    How is this a 'real world' test? Besides people who test cars, who drives 385 miles one day, 180 miles the next day, and then 210 the next day? Pretty much no one but traveling salesmen.

    In the real 'real world' most people drive ~40 miles back and forth to work. And in such circumstances, you will hardly burn any gas at all in the GM Volt.
  • darkwagonerdarkwagoner Member Posts: 1
    As an owner of a FIAT 500 glad to see that it was included in the test.. I get an average of 32.5 mpg in the city with REG GAS and I drive fast! LOve this car!
  • printerman1printerman1 Member Posts: 68
    fuel economy depends a lot if the driver has a heavy foot, style of driving (got to get to the next stop light fast),
  • dicharrydicharry Member Posts: 1
    Pardon me, but this test appears to show a bias toward the Volt or perhaps American vehicles.
    When you consider the Volt's initial cost and the fact that it requires premium grade fuel, cost of ownership over three to five years destroys any advantage it may have over it's competitors.
    The real cost of driving a Volt excluding any tax incentives from Government Motors is prohibitive for the average family.
    Just my opinion,
  • snow_driversnow_driver Member Posts: 5
    > When we did the first Fuel-Sipper Smackdown four years ago, there were
    > no diesel-powered cars on sale

    Do you not even check your own links? That test included a Jetta TDI. Which is a diesel....

    More *quality* reporting from one of the biggest hacks at Edmunds.
  • snow_driversnow_driver Member Posts: 5
    > When we did the first Fuel-Sipper Smackdown four years ago, there were
    > no diesel-powered cars on sale

    Do you not even check your own links? That test included a Jetta TDI. Which is a diesel....

    More *quality* reporting from one of the biggest hacks at Edmunds.
  • snow_driversnow_driver Member Posts: 5
    Gah! Why does this site always butcher my formatting?
  • snow_driversnow_driver Member Posts: 5
    Gah! Why does this site always butcher my formatting?
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