Where do Fuel Economy Estimates Come From?

January 1st, 2013 by

gas pumpWhen drivers come to us looking for their next vehicle, many of them ask about the fuel economy of the vehicle or vehicles they are looking at, as it can be a great way to compare the Honda in question to the competition as well as give an idea of just how much regularly driving it will impact your budget. But where do those numbers come from anyway?

How can we Trust the Numbers?

To begin with, they are EPA estimates, so that sounds like they should come from the Environmental Protection Agency, right? Well, that’s only partially true. The EPA is a busy enough organization as it is, and while their standards do regulate the way in which the efficiency of modern motor vehicles are determined, there is no way they have the time to test every new model year, engine variation, trim level, etc.

So they rely on the automakers to do it for them. I can already tell that you’re getting a bit suspicious. Fuel economy is a statistic that can help sell cars, so how can we trust automakers to be honest?

By randomly sampling vehicles and testing them themselves, the EPA ensures that the automakers following their rules, for the benefit of everyone. And of course, if an unscrupulous manufacturer were to lie about their numbers, the punishment is generally severe.

Where do the Numbers Come From?

While you can estimate your own fuel economy by simply setting your trip odometer to zero at a full tank and then doing some math the next time you fill up, that would be a pretty arduous task for the engineers at Honda. It’s particularly slow going for an automaker renowned for their efficiency.

Instead, there are special apparatuses used to simulate both city and highway terrain, acting sort of like a treadmill, with the vehicle moving at a constant speed for a fixed amount of time. Now repeat the process until you’ve got a statistically significant amount of data, and you get a fuel economy estimate fit for the EPA.

Experience a Fuel-Efficient Honda Firsthand

Honda vehicles have a reputation as some of the most fuel efficient on the road, but they have so much more going for them than a great fuel economy. Visit our dealership and take one for a test drive and see for yourself here at Middletown Honda; you’ll be glad you did.