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Cars.com Takes on CAFE Standards With True Mileage Index

It's easy to compare the gas mileage of different vehicles by looking at the EPA information on new-car window stickers. Determining how manufacturers stack up against each other in terms of mileage is much more difficult. While the federal government's corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) program attempts to reveal this information, its calculations might be misleading to the typical car shopper.

"CAFE rankings end up being modified based on a number of different factors that make each automaker's average mpg different from what consumers see on car stickers at a dealership," Cars.com senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder said. "In 2020, new CAFE standards will force automakers to achieve an average of 35 mpg, but this might not affect the numbers they see on vehicle stickers as much as consumers might think."

The underreported truth about CAFE is that even though its figures are regulated by the EPA, those numbers have little correlation with the ones posted on new-car window stickers. CAFE rankings are subject to a number of adjustments, such as whether a car can use E85 or other alternative fuels, specific vehicle usage, weight ratings and more, most of which are regulated by the Secretary of Transportation.

For example, in 2007 CAFE rated Honda's domestic cars at 33.5 mpg; Honda's imported cars averaged 39.6 mpg, and its light trucks averaged 25.0 mpg. Given those numbers, most consumers would assume they could walk into a Honda dealership and find several cars with combined city/highway gas mileage in the mid-30s. In reality, the Civic Hybrid is the only Honda that has combined mileage of better than 31 mpg.

To clear up confusion, Cars.com editors have compiled a True Mileage Index. The True Mileage Index analyzes a number of factors, including combined city/highway EPA gas mileage ratings, vehicle sales, an automaker's lineup of vehicles and more to determine major automakers' average gas mileage across their lineups. As a result of not giving allowances for alternative fuels or other factors, this number will more accurately reflect the mileage consumers can expect from their vehicles. Click here for more information on how Cars.com's True Mileage Index is calculated and for a more complete list detailing each automaker's brands.

True Mileage Index*

AutomakerMPG
American Honda Motor Company24.4
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.24.3
Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group24.1
Nissan North America23.2
Volkswagen Group of America22.2
American Suzuki Motor Corp.21.8
Industry Average21.7
Daimler AG21.5
Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru)21.3
Mitsubishi Motors North America 20.7
BMW Group20.6
Ford Motor Co. 20.5
General Motors19.9
Chrysler LLC19.0
Porsche Cars North America18.3
Tata Motors15.4

* Due to low sales volumes and non-affiliation with any of the above brands, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Isuzu, Lotus and Maserati were excluded.

About Cars.com

Cars.com is the leading destination for online car shoppers, offering credible, easy-to-understand information from consumers and experts to help buyers formulate opinions on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. With comprehensive pricing information, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and a large selection of new- and used-car inventory, Cars.com puts millions of car buyers in control of their shopping process with the information they need to make confident buying decisions.

Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, which is owned by leading media companies, including Belo (NYSE: BLC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).

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