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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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Vehicle sales numbers

Toyota has sold over 50 million Corollas

Toyota has sold tens of millions of Corollas over the last 55 years.

Toyota

The Toyota Corolla entered its 12th generation in 2019, after more than 50 years on sale. Now, in 2021, the automaker says the car has reached another benchmark, this time with an almost unbelievable number attached to it. In Today, Toyota says that in July 2021, it sold the 50-millionth Corolla. That's almost one Corolla sold for every six Americans alive today, though the sales total includes international vehicles as well.


1969 Toyota Corolla The Corolla's frugal powertrain helped it grow quickly in the United States.Toyota


The Corolla debuted in 1966 but didn't make its way to our shores until spring 1968. Sold as a 1969 model, the car had a starting price of around $1,700 at a time when the median household income was $7,700. The first cars had a short-stroke 1,077-cc four-cylinder engine, 12-inch wheels, and a four-speed manual transmission. That powertrain produced only 60 horsepower, which was good for the car to (eventually) reach 60 mph in about 17 seconds.

Though the car's quality and design helped, it was the oil crisis in the early 1970s that really pushed it to the top of buyers' lists. Big American cars powered by V8 engines fell out of favor as fuel rationing and higher prices took hold. The early Corolla's fuel economy of over 35 mpg helped it earn a place in many Americans' driveways as a result.


2021 Toyota Corolla Cross 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation


Toyota notes that it was building Corollas in the United States by the mid-1980s and says that the current generation car is built at its manufacturing facility in Mississippi. The automaker's new joint plant with Mazda, which is located in Huntsville, Alabama, will start building the new Corolla Cross this summer.

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Electric vehicles

Three new EVs we can't wait to see

The F-150 Lightning is just one of several new EVs we'll see soon.

Ford

With all the crazy news coming out of the auto industry this year, it'd be easy to believe that the rollout of new models is slowing to a snail's pace. The pandemic and ongoing microchip shortage have slowed vehicle production, to be sure, but they haven't put the brakes on automakers' push to roll out exciting new electric vehicles. In the next few months alone, we'll see several new electric trucks, cars, and SUVs hit the market, some of which will break new ground and help define their segments. We're on board with this trend 100 percent, and to help you get excited, we've rounded up a few of our favorites.

Here are the three upcoming electric vehicles we're most excited to see.

Ford F-150 Lightning

One of the world's best-selling and most popular vehicles is going electric. The Ford F-150 Lightning is set to arrive in 2022 with a fully electric powertrain, forward-looking technology, and a familiar style that will make any truck lover feel at home. We don't have full details on the truck, but Ford has shared some awe-inspiring performance numbers. The Lightning will offer around 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque, which should push the truck to 60 mph from a standstill in just four seconds. Payload capacity comes in at up to 2,000 pounds, and towing will reach 10,000 pounds for specific configurations.


Ford F-150 Lightning The Lightning will offer impressive capability in a familiar package.Ford


The Lightning's starting price will come in under $40,000, but don't get your hopes up about actually buying one for that amount. Ford says the entry-level Lightning is a commercial truck that will be a stripped-down work-ready vehicle, which likely means features like vinyl seats and far fewer of the desirable tech goodies that you'll want. To get the truck you and your family will want to drive, you'll need to spring for the XLT model, which starts just shy of $53,000. That's quite a bit more, but it is still a somewhat reasonable price to pay for what will surely be a capable electric pickup.

Mercedes-Benz EQS

The S-Class is a unique model in Mercedes-Benz's lineup. The car typically showcases the automaker's latest technologies and design techniques and offers a glimpse of the features that eventually trickle down to the rest of Mercedes' vehicles. Soon, we'll see the EQS, a fully electric flagship sedan that paves the way for the brand's other electrified offerings. The car will have a range of well over 400 miles on a charge, up to 516 horsepower, rear-axle steering, and breathtaking technology.


Mercedes-Benz EQS The EQS will usher in a new electric era at Mercedes.Mercedes-Benz


The EQS is expected to land sometime late in 2021 and will carry a price tag that matches its premium brand name and top-notch feature set. Pricing for the "entry-level" EQS 450+ will come in at around $100,000, while the top EQS 580 4MATIC will land well north of that number. Remember, though, that Mercedes offers a long list of ultra-desirable options for its cars, so you'll likely shell out more than the base price to get the features you want.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

The Hyundai Ioniq name is nothing new, but the way it will be seen in the automaker's lineup will change significantly going forward. Rather than being a model name within the Hyundai catalog, Ioniq will split off and become its own sub-brand, covering a line of electric vehicles of all types. The Ioniq 5 is the first such vehicle and will be offered in single- or dual-motor configurations that generate 225 or 320 horsepower. The car's futuristic design is attractive and features a pixelated look for the front-end, lighting features, and rear. Inside, the vehicle is clean but comforting and offers the features buyers expect in a family crossover.


Hyundai Ioniq 5 The Ioniq 5 is the first in what will be an entire line of new EVs from Hyundai.Hyundai


The Ioniq 5 should go on sale in late 2021 and is expected to cost between $40,000 and $50,000.

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