Consumer Reports Finds EPA Economy Labels More Accurate Than Previously Thought

Over the past decade, it’s been thought that EPA fuel-economy labels on window stickers weren’t all that accurate.

A new analysis may prove that wrong.

Consumers Union and Consumer Reports performed an analysis that updated their own report from 2005. In 2005, their analysis found that the EPA labels were off base on an average of 3.3 mpg, or more than 10 percent. Now, 11 years later, Consumer Reports has found the difference to be just 0.8 percent, or 3 percent.

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“Consumers should be able to trust that the estimate they see on the label accurately reflects their gas mileage,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “We’re glad that today, consumers will be getting more accurate information than they did in the past.”

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The 2005 report found that the EPA’s testing methods were outdated and failed to better reflect real-world driving situations. The EPA updated its testing procedures in 2008, including faster driving speeds, faster acceleration, colder temperatures and air-conditioning use.

Consumer Reports tested almost 400 vehicles from 2009 to 2016 to compare to the EPA’s labels.

It’s important for consumers to have accurate labeling from the EPA when comparison shopping vehicles on fuel-economy, and several high-profile lawsuits against automakers have resulted from EPA labels that promised fuel-economy numbers that were inflated when compared to consumers’ real-world experiences.

This also comes at a time when consumers are placing a high value on fuel-economy when it comes time to make vehicle purchases – Consumers Union said that 84 percent of all adults surveyed agree that automakers should work to increase fuel economy on all vehicle types. According to the EPA, fuel economy across the board is at a record height – 24.8 mpg. That’s a 28 percent increase over 2004.

“The latest trends show that the government’s fuel economy program is working,” said Baker-Branstetter. “Fuel economy is improving across the board, and consumers today have greater choices for fuel efficient vehicles of all types.”

Consumers Union