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AutomotiveMap answers 5 common fuel economy questions

Knowing how your car achieves its fuel economy can help you save money at the pump.

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How fuel efficient is your car? The numbers you saw on the car's window sticker while you were shopping the dealer lot are likely not playing out in real life. Why?

In this guide to fuel economy, AutomotiveMap will help you better understand what a fuel economy rating is, how your driving and the environment impact real world fuel efficiency, and how hybrid powertrains impact fuel economy.

What is fuel economy?

Fuel economy numbers are measurements of the efficiency at which a vehicle uses its fuel, whether that's gasoline or diesel. A vehicle that has high fuel economy number is considered fuel efficient while vehicles that burn through their fuel at a faster rate are labeled as fuel inefficient.

Who determines if a car is fuel efficient?

Ultimately, a car's fuel efficiency comes down to the driver. However, the U.S. Department of Energy produces an estimated fuel economy rating based on laboratory tests that are conducted by manufacturers using a regulated process.

How does my driving impact fuel economy?

Car are least fuel efficient when moving from a stop. The acceleration needed to propel a vehicle forward causes the car's efficiency to plummet. However, other aspects of the drive experience are more fuel efficient, balancing out the car's overall fuel economy numbers.

When you accelerate quickly off the line, not only does the vehicle need to use its usual fuel inefficient propelling process, the hard acceleration tells the vehicle to do it faster, a process that uses more fuel. This process holds true when it comes accelerating to pass folks on the highway.

Abruptly stopping uses more fuel than coasting to a stop because you are maintaining a speed up until the last possible moment.

2016 Toyota Prius Many hybrid cars come with displays like this that help drivers understand the impact of their driving by illustrating best practices.Photo courtesy of Toyota

How does the environment impact fuel economy?

When it's hot or cold, running your climate control system requires energy and that impacts your vehicle's efficiency. However, modern systems can be as efficient, or more efficient, than driving with the window's down so don't think that is the more efficient solution.

When it is cold outside, your vehicle needs to warm itself (and you) up to reach peak efficiency. The colder it is, the longer it takes and the more energy it requires.

In an EV, using the radio, climate system, windshield wipers, and lights can all impact a vehicle's range. There's only so much electricity to go around!

Vehicle maintenance also impacts a car's efficiency. Things such as changing your oil regularly and making sure that your tires are inflated to the correct level can have a large impact on your vehicle's efficiency.

Weight also impacts how fuel efficient a car is. If a vehicle is loaded up with people and gear, it has extra weight to lug around. That weight requires additional energy to get going and keep going.

How does a hybrid help fuel efficiency?

Most hybrid cars use an electric power boost to help them get off the line faster. The battery's boost of electricity takes the place of traditional fuel methods being used. Because there isn't as much gasoline or diesel being used, the car is more efficient.

While driving down the road, many hybrid systems (consisting of a battery and an electric motor) use a motor (or two, or three, or four) to move the wheels of the car. Many systems are designed to recapture unspent energy and return that to the battery.

The fuel efficiency of cars has been steadily rising over the last four decades. Nowadays, the Toyota Prius, an impactful model in the hybrid vehicle marketplace for the last 15 years, is basically as fuel efficient as the Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

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The Kia Sorento has undergone a bold redo for 2021

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

We already knew what the redesigned 2021 Kia Sorento would look like thanks to its global reveal in March. Now we now what the U.S.-spec will be getting.

The Sorento will be available to U.S. customers in a new X-Line trim. It features a one-inch lift resulting in improved approach and departure angles. The grade also includes all-wheel drive with Snow mode, and a more robust roof rack.

201 Kia Sorento SX The Sorento has a new, sturdier roof rack.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia will offer the Sorento with four engine options in the U.S. The base power plant is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine achieves 191 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. It achieves 27 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive is standard with this engine and all-wheel drive is available.

Buyers will be able to upgrade the base model Sorento to get a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood that delivers 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed wet-clutch dual-clutch transmission - the same as what is offered in the Hyundai Veloster N - and is expected to achieve 25 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive is standard with this engine and all-wheel drive is available.

The front-wheel drive Sonata Hybrid will feature a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, 44.2 kWh electric motor, and six-speed automatic transmission.. That powertrain produces approximately 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's more powerful than the standard four-cylinder in the 2020 Sorento but less horsepower than buyers would get with the 2020 Sorento with a V6. Kia says the model gets 37 mpg combined.

201 Kia Sorento X-Line The new Sorento X-Line model features black design accents and wheels.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

That same engine powers an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid variant of the model that will be available in 2021 and feature 261 horsepower and 30 miles of all-electric range.

U.S. drivers will be able to configure the model with either 4+2 or 5+2 seating. The three-row SUV offers best-in-class front and rear legroom and overall interior passenger volume.

The fully upgraded interior includes a standard 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen that gets bumped up to a 10.25-inch screen in higher trim levels. An available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster is available. There are eight USB charging ports (six in the LX model) and the larger screen allows for dual-phone Bluetooth Capability.

2021 Kia Sorento The interior of the Sorento features a new design for the automaker.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Opting for a system with UVO telematics adds cloud-based connected routing that allows navigation to be adjusted in real time according to evolving traffic and road conditions. There’s also weather information for up to 25,000 cities, voice assistant functionality, keyless entry user profiles, smart speaker integration, and advanced notifications for things like extended idle times and rear occupancy alerts. The system will automatically contact 911 should it sense that an airbag has deployed.

For the first time, Kia offers the model with on-demand Find My Car functionality with surround view technology that captures images of the vehicle’s surroundings then pushes them to the Kia Access Uvo app to aid in location. Additionally, last mile navigation provides walking directions to a final destination if the vehicle is parked between 0.1 and 1.2 miles away from the destination as entered in the navigation system.

A 12-speaker Bose sound system and wireless charging capability is available.

2021 Kia Sorento A 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen is available, Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia has given the Sorento a host of standard safety features including forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and rear occupant alert. Blind spot collision avoidance assist, passenger safe exit, and blind view monitor technologies are available.

The 2021 Sorento is assembled in West Point, Georgia alongside the Telluride and the K5.

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Audi vehicles equipped with the MIB 3 infotainment system can take advantage of the technology.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi has partnered with iHeartRadio to deliver Hybrid Radio to owners of select 2021 model year Audi vehicles. The result is an industry-first experience.

Models that are equipped with Audi's MIB 3 suite of infotainment technology will be able to take advantage of Hybrid Radio, which allows listeners with an Audi Connect Prime or Plus subscription not switch between broadcast and digital radio signals when they have entered or exited radio signal territories for uninterrupted listening.

iHeartRadio Audi The new technology allows you to take your local radio station with you when you leave its broadcast zone.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

When the vehicle is cycled off and on again, it is able to retain the radio station, picking up the digital radio channel via internet connection.

"The ability to bring Hybrid Radio® to Audi customers would not be possible without pioneers like iHeartRadio embracing this technology," said Pom Malhotra, director, Connected Services, Audi of America. "Audi advances progress through technology, and we are thankful to be able to collaborate with iHeartRadio to continue bringing new conveniences to our customers."

"Radio has always been the consumer's No. 1 choice for companionship in the car," said Michele Laven, president of Strategic Partnerships Group for iHeartMedia. "The innovative functionality Audi is introducing via their Hybrid Radio® experience allows yet another way for that companionship to be seamlessly extended beyond the range of the broadcast signal keeping the consumer connected to their favorite station, no matter where the road takes them."

Hybrid Radio is available to Audi customers at no additional cost as part of their subscription.

It uses the integrated 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot. Verizon is Audi's wireless connectivity provider.

Models equipped with the MIB 3 system are arriving at U.S. dealerships this month.

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