The final numbers for the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) came in for model-year 2014 vehicles, and they were good. Despite a late-2014 tapering off in new-car fuel economy (likely courtesy of those falling fuel prices), 2014 vehicles averaged 25.3 miles per gallon, a healthy 22 percent more than 2008 figures.
And those improvements are really shown in the fringes. For instance, last year, about one in 30 new cars were of the gas-guzzling variety (here meaning, one with a fuel-economy rating of less than 16 mpg), compared to 22 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, one in six new cars last year got at least 32 mpg, compared to just over one percent six years prior.
Whether fuel economy gets better this year remains to be seen, but one thing in its favor (unfortunately) is that gas prices are back on the rise. Average US fuel prices are at about $2.27 a gallon, up 21 cents from a month ago, according to AAA.