US new cars in January averaged 25.4 miles per gallon, says the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). That marks a 0.3 mpg increase from December, but it's still a decline from August 2014's apex of 25.8 mpg. Looking at the bigger picture, average fuel economy is up a solid 20 percent since UMTRI started tracking such figures in their current form about seven years ago, so things are obviously moving in the right direction.
How sales of advanced-powertrain vehicles played into all of this remains to be seen, but gas prices seemed to have played a part in getting Americans to step back from the gas guzzlers a tad. Average gas prices are at about $2.11 a gallon, up about seven cents a gallon from a week ago, though still down almost a dime a gallon from a month ago, according to AAA.