In February 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a change in its evaluation methods for testing the MPG ratings for automobiles. The update is meant to target the newest fuel-saving technology, such as hybrids, turbocharged vehicles, and cars with engine stop-start systems.
Identical models between 2016 and 2017 will see a slight decrease in highway and combined MPG as a result of these new testing standards. For example, Forbes reports that a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze that was rated at 30/42-mpg city/highway for 2016 will be refigured at 30/40 mpg. While this downgrade is small, it will make it more difficult for manufacturers to meet rising fleet standards.
In an interview with Cars.com, Byron Bunker, director of the compliance division at the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, stated that most of the changes are a difference of rounding rather than a reflection of actual differences in the overall MPG. The reason for the change is due to an increase in data available to the EPA. Consumers should be aware of both the 2016 and 2017 model differences and inquire if any changes in MPG are due to updates in the model of the car or the change in how the EPA rates vehicles.
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