Hybrids Lead New EPA Mileage Ratings

At one end of the spectrum you’ve got the Bugatti Veyron, which, beside going from zero to sixty in 2.5 seconds, possessing a top speed around 250 miles per hour and costing $1.7 million, checks in with a fuel economy rating of 8 miles to the gallon (MPG) city and 15 mpg highway. At the other end of the spectrum are a bunch of hybrids, led by the Toyota Prius, at 51 mpg city and 48 highway.

In between, the newly released 2011 Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings dish the gas-guzzling scoop on hundreds of vehicles, including, for the first time, medium-duty passenger vehicles, those big SUVs and passenger vans previously not subject to measurement and labeling requirements.

Toyota Prius hybrid

image via Toyota

You can see the top-ten fuel-efficient cars — all hybrids — here, or find any tested vehicle’s data using the government’s search tool.

Two vehicles you won’t find ratings for: The much-talked-about, soon-to-arrive Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. The EPA said those vehicles hadn’t completed testing and would be added to the list when they do. It’s not exactly clear on how they’ll be scored, but under a labeling system the EPA wants to usher in for 2012, electric vehicles would be rated on their “mpg equivalent” based on a conversion factor of 33.7 kilowatt-hours per gallon.

The Volt could present a particularly challenging mileage-rating dilemma, however, because of its uncertain status. GM raised a stink last year when it announced the vehicle got 230 miles per gallon. When Motor Trend gave the car a careful workout recently, it found the mileage hugely variable depending on how the car is driven. And yet, in the end, the magazine stood behind the number they got in real-world usage: 127 mpg.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.