EPA Vs CAFE: The Two Sides of Fuel Economy Numbers

Fuel economy numbers are more important now than ever before, as gas prices continue to rise in North America.

Recently Dodge came under criticism for announcing its upcoming Dart compact will get 40 mpg combined.

An impressively high number, even a class-leading car like the Hyundai Elantra, which gets 40 mpg highway, only achieves an average of 33 mpg. While the exact fuel economy figures have yet to be released and a 40 mpg highway rating is still in sight, when the Dart (above) goes on sale later this year it most certainly will not get 40 mpg average; not in real world driving and not even on the window sticker.

Dodge wasn’t wrong. They’re not even entirely to blame. If fact, they were just using a different testing method to get their fuel economy numbers. Or to put it more accurately, they weren’t even doing the testing. So why would a different testing method be used? It’s a long and complex story, but the gist of it is that according to a government mandate, in order for Fiat to take control of Chrysler it needed achieve three goals, the final one being building a 40 mpg car on American soil. Being government related, that number is a CAFE number, not an EPA number. What’s the difference? Read on.

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