Mazda retains lead in EPA mpg study, without help from hybrids or EVs

The Japanese automaker achieved a fleet-wide adjusted fuel economy of 29.6 miles per gallon.

Mazda is set to retain its leading position in the Environmental Protection Agency's annual Light Duty Fuel Economy Trends report.

The achievement represents Mazda's fourth consecutive year at the top of the charts, with an adjusted fleet-wide fuel economy of 29.6 miles per gallon for the 2015 model year and a preliminary 30.7 mpg for 2016 vehicles. Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Hyundai were not far behind, tightly grouped between 28.9 mpg and 27.8 mpg for 2015.

Mazda proudly points out that its lead has carried forward without any help from hybrids or electric vehicles. The company did not mention that it also benefits from a smaller car- and crossover-focused lineup, unencumbered pickups and other low-mpg models. The gap has provided room for Nissan to stake its own claim as the most efficient "full-line manufacturer."

At the other end of the spectrum, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles received the industry's lowest adjusted fuel consumption at 21.8 mpg, slightly worse than GM's 22.3 mpg and Ford's 23.0 mpg. GM was among three automakers to experience a drop in their fleet-wide averages from MY2014 to MY2015, alongside Toyota and BMW.

Interestingly, the EPA suggests overall fuel economy for trucks peaked in the early '80s despite ongoing improvements to cars.

"The most fuel efficient gasoline/diesel truck in the historical Trends database is a small Volkswagen diesel pickup truck sold in the early 1980s with an unadjusted, laboratory fuel economy of 45 mpg," the agency notes in the report (PDF).

Combining all data from various manufacturers, the EPA expects the average car and truck to grow slightly from 24.8 to 25.6 mpg from the 2015 to 2016 model years.

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