Cars.com $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown: Mileage Results

Altimagas

We took six of the top-selling, most fuel-efficient cars in the U.S. and pitted them against each other. How’d they do in our mileage drive?

While Nissan's redesigned 2013 Altima may have the highest EPA-estimated mileage rating among family sedans, its trip computer had the largest discrepancy with our calculations at the pump. After a 185-mile loop, the Altima's trip computer read 4.38 mpg above our calculations — far higher than the variances we observed for the 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Honda Accord, 2013 Hyundai Sonata, 2013 Kia Optima and 2012 Toyota Camry. The Altima won the day's trip-computer mileage with an observed 35.9 mpg, but its calculated pump mileage — 31.52 mpg — landed it a third-place finish behind the Camry and Accord.

Cars.com/USA Today/MotorWeek $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown

We took six contenders on a daylong mileage loop in mixed city/highway conditions. Per our usual mileage-challenge procedures, we began and ended at the same gas pump, swapped drivers over roughly equal chunks of seat time, kept windows and sunroofs closed and avoided cruise control. With cool temperatures and low humidity, we kept air conditioning off this time.

At day's end, our calculated pump mileage amounted to less than 1 mpg difference from what the trip computers read for five of the six cars, but the Altima's was off by 4.38 mpg. Why the discrepancy?

By Kelsey Mays | December 27, 2012 | Comments (24)

Extreme Commuting in the 2011 Audi TT, 2011 Chevy Equinox, 2012 Dodge Charger R/T

Traffic
More often than not, buyers of all-wheel-drive cars and SUVs must deal with worse gas mileage compared with their two-wheel-drive counterparts. The 2011 Audi TT now only comes with all-wheel drive — a front-wheel-drive option was eliminated for 2010 — but its gas mileage is still respectable at 22/31 mpg city/highway. Along with the TT, we put all-wheel-drive versions of the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox with its four-cylinder base engine and 2011 Dodge Charger R/T with a healthy V-8 through our heavy Chicago commute.
 
The TT makes an interesting case as a commuter car.

By Joe Bruzek | September 8, 2011 | Comments (6)

Mileage Challenge 7.3: Our Favorite

Mileagetrio
Our latest mileage challenge revealed the Volkswagen Golf TDI as the most efficient of our high-mileage hatchbacks. However, mileage alone doesn’t make up a buyer’s mind when car shopping, especially considering that between our mileage challenge’s winner and loser the gas savings would total about $1,000 over the course of five years. So, after a day behind the wheels of these three, which one would we put in our own driveway? Editors Mike Hanley and Kelsey Mays weigh in below.

By Kelsey Mays | October 20, 2010 | Comments (4)

Mileage Challenge 7.2: The Results

Mileagelights
Gas, diesel or hybrid? That’s the question we set out to answer in our latest mileage challenge of small, sporty cars.

There’s the hybrid Honda CR-Z, the diesel Volkswagen Golf TDI and the conventionally powered Mini Cooper. Combined EPA fuel-economy ratings for all three cars fall within 2 mpg of each other, but each car takes unique fuel. The Cooper sips premium gas, and the CR-Z takes the cheap stuff; the Golf TDI needs diesel.

Each car’s trip computer offered a gas-mileage readout, which we reset to begin each of the three legs on our 330-mile daylong route. The winner came down to the car that had the lowest fuel costs over a 15,000-mile year of driving, given our observed mileage.

The scrutiny, it turned out, made little difference. Each hatchback handily beat its combined city/highway EPA fuel-economy rating, but the Golf TDI ran away with the gas mileage and remained victorious even after we accounted for the high cost of diesel.

Check out the results below.

By Kelsey Mays | October 19, 2010 | Comments (32)

Mileage Challenge 7.1: Efficient, Small and Fun

Mileage1
Expensive electric-powered cars are getting all the attention lately, but there are still plenty of small, efficient cars with small price tags being introduced on the market. For our latest mileage challenge we decided to take out three cars with three approaches to efficiency:  the redesigned diesel 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI, the new 2011 Honda CR-Z hybrid and the just plain gas-powered 2010 Mini Cooper.
 
We compared the cars in our latest three-car faceoff, but because of these differing powertrains it seemed natural to put them through our Mileage Challenge, as well. We’ve put diesel and hybrid vehicles on a mileage drive before but never two that were direct competitors with a fuel-efficient gasoline car in the mix to boot.

An overview of our test route and the contestants are below.

By Kelsey Mays | October 18, 2010 | Comments (25)

Mileage Challenge 6.3: Final Thoughts

Mileage_challenge_rear
Tooling around in four subcompacts all day to rack up miles for our latest Mileage Challenge left us with many comparisons between the 2011 Ford Fiesta SES, 2010 Honda Fit Sport, 2010 Nissan Cube Krom and 2010 Scion xD. Some impressed us and some did not. Below, we share which cars stood out and our picks if we have to spend another day behind the wheel of one of these subcompacts.
By Joe Bruzek | July 1, 2010 | Comments (5)

Mileage Challenge 6.2: The Results

Mileage_challenge_driving
For our most recent mileage challenge we tested four subcompacts to see how they stacked up when the wheels hit the real world. This challenge’s players include the all-new 2011 Ford Fiesta SES with an impressive 38 mpg rating to back up, 2010 Honda Fit Sport, 2010 Nissan Cube Krom and 2010 Scion xD — all equipped with automatic transmissions.

As rated by the EPA, the Ford Fiesta gets the best fuel economy of the bunch at 29/38 mpg city/highway. But could it get those numbers in the real world?

By Joe Bruzek | June 30, 2010 | Comments (8)

Mileage Challenge 6.1: Subcompacts

Mileage_challenge_group
For those who want to downsize into a smaller car, there are now significantly more options to do so and not be left in a bean-sized and shaped econo-box. Enter our most recent mileage challenge where we picked four examples of such cars, including the 2011 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback, 2010 Honda Fit Sport, 2010 Nissan Cube Krom and 2010 Scion xD.

This group of subcompact cars demonstrates that you don’t have to sacrifice many features when downsizing or looking for a budget buy; our Mileage Challenge contenders come with power windows and locks, air conditioning, antilock brakes, side curtain airbags and more. As we discovered while driving these cars in the city and on the highway during disaster-movie-like weather, some don’t drive like a small car, either.

All eyes were on the Fiesta because it’s a new contender in the segment and has a lot to prove, including backing up its highest-of-the-group 38 mpg highway rating. A 40-mpg version is available but not tested here. Of our Mileage Challenger contenders, the Scion xD and Honda Fit Sport have the second-best highway rating of 33 mpg; the base Fit is rated at 35 mpg on the highway. The Cube rounds out our group with an EPA-estimated 31 mpg highway. You can see a breakdown of each car we had in the fleet and how they measure up below.

As we’ve reported in previous mileage drives, the disclaimer with every mileage rating is, “Your mileage may vary,” and it’s no joke. We’ve tested some cars that easily surpass their rating, and others that don’t come close. You’ll just have to stay tuned until tomorrow to find out if these subcompacts delivered on their promise.

By Joe Bruzek | June 29, 2010 | Comments (5)

2010 Toyota Prius vs. 2010 Honda Insight: The Commute

Priusinsight
Last week, we ran our latest Mileage Challenge featuring four ultra-fuel-efficient cars, and before that we rounded up six fuel-sippers to see which one was the best daily driver. But none of these reports put a brutal, real-life morning and evening commute to the test.

That’s exactly what I did in the new 2010 Honda Insight and 2010 Toyota Prius, the two most affordable hybrids on the road. We hear a lot of car shoppers say they buy hybrids to help save on their gas costs and cut down on emissions during their commute. But how did the two do in terms of fuel efficiency, comfort and entertainment for my often 90-minute morning commute and 45-minute afternoon commute? Let’s find out.
By David Thomas | October 27, 2009 | Comments (18)

Cars.com Podcast: Porsche Panamera

Panamerapodcast
This week’s podcast is a bit like the classic Pink Floyd album “The Wall,” especially considering the line, “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding.” In the case of this week’s podcast, you’ll have to listen to our editors discuss last week’s mileage challenge and how it came together before you’ll hear about Mike Hanley’s seat time in the full line-up of the new Porsche Panamera.

You can check it out in iTunes here or just hit the play button below.

Cars.com Podcast

By David Thomas | October 26, 2009 | Comments (1)

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