Conspiracy theorists have long insisted that automakers could push their vehicles to achieve better fuel economy, and as it turns out, they were right. Of course, it isn't as easy as flipping a magic MPG switch, but automakers are making incremental gains on vehicles even between redesigns. Techniques like changing gear ratios, lowering revs at highway speed and using lower rolling resistance tires are helping drive up efficiency a few percentage points at a time.

For example, the 2009 Cobalt XFE (above) achieves 37 mpg on the highway compared to 36 mpg for the 2008 model with minimal aero and mechanical changes. Ford made similar changes to the 2009 Escape, enabling the Blue Oval's smallest crossover to hit 28 mpg in 2WD four-banger guise. Honda achieved similar incremental improvements when it introduced cylinder deactivation on the 2008 Odyssey. Chrysler will show 1 mpg improvement on the 2009 Avenger and Sebring four-cylinder model, which will bring the Pentastar's midsize sedans to 31 mpg.

While everyone seems to be sitting on the car buying sidelines until some unbelievably fuel efficient vehicle comes along with great looks and a low price tag, the reality is that these baby steps are what we should expect. There are some some bigger jumps on the horizon, like the Chevy Cruze that promises 45 mpg on the highway and diesel offerings like the Jetta TDI and oil-burning Accord. For the next few years, however, expect automakers to pick the low hanging fruit of high gas mileage first.

[Source: Detroit News]

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
  • 2015 Toyota Highlander
    MSRP: $29,765 - $44,140
    2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee
    MSRP: $29,995 - $64,895
    2015 Honda Accord
    MSRP: $22,105 - $33,630
    2015 Honda Civic
    MSRP: $18,290 - $26,740
    2015 Mazda Mazda3
    MSRP: $16,945 - $25,545
    Share This Photo X