Model year 2012 vehicles achieved an all-time high fuel economy of 23.6 miles per gallon, according to an EPA report. This represents a 1.2 mpg increase over the previous year, making it the second largest annual increase in the last 30 years.
Fuel economy has now increased in seven of the last eight years.
Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2013 says fuel economy improvement in model year 2012 is consistent with longer-term trends. Fuel economy has increased by 2.6 mpg, or 12 percent, since 2008, and by 4.3 mpg, or 22 percent, since 2004.
The average carbon dioxide emissions of 376 grams per mile in model year 2012 also represented a record low. While the EPA does not yet have final data for model year 2013, preliminary projections are that fuel economy will rise by 0.4 mpg, and CO2 emissions will decrease by 6 grams per mile in 2013.
The annual report attributes much of the recent improvement to the rapid adoption of more efficient technologies such as gasoline direct injection engines, turbochargers, and advanced transmissions. Consumers have many more high fuel economy choices due to these and other technologies, such as hybrid, diesel, electric, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Consumers can choose from five times more car models with a combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or more, and from twice as many SUVs that achieve 25 mpg or more, compared to just five years ago.
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark electric vehicle is the most fuel-efficient vehicle, according to the 2014 Fuel Economy Guide released by the EPA and Energy Department earlier this month.
The subcompact car achieves miles per gallon equivalent of 119 combined, 128 city and 109 highway. Also earning high marks in the subcompact class, the 2014 Ford Fiesta, which runs on regular gasoline, gets 37 miles per gallon, the combined average for city (32 mpg) and highway (45 mpg).