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Understanding fuel consumption ratings

Fuel consumption ratings give consumers reliable information about the relative fuel efficiency of vehicles. You can use this information to compare the fuel consumption of different models and then choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your everyday needs.

Use the fuel consumption ratings search tool to compare the fuel consumption information of different models. The vehicle with the best fuel consumption ratings and lowest estimated annual fuel cost can save you fuel and money for years.

You can also use the annual Fuel Consumption Guide, which is put together by Natural Resources Canada with the help of Environment and Climate Change Canada. The guide gives model-specific fuel consumption information about light-duty vehicles.

Remember, the lower the litres per 100 kilometres (L/100 km) rating, the better the fuel consumption. And the higher the miles per gallon (mpg) rating, the better the fuel use.

Your fuel consumption will vary

Fuel consumption ratings show the fuel consumption that may be achieved if you drive in fuel-efficient ways and properly maintain your vehicle. The ratings help you compare the fuel consumption of different vehicles. However, it is impossible for a laboratory test to simulate all conditions that drivers may experience. Your vehicle’s fuel consumption will vary from its published fuel consumption ratings, depending on how, where and when you drive.

The following factors will affect the fuel consumption of your vehicle:

  • How you accelerate
  • How fast you drive
  • The age and condition of your vehicle
  • Temperature and weather
  • Traffic and road conditions
  • Using air conditioning and other powered accessories
  • Using all-wheel and four-wheel drive

Also, there may be fuel consumption differences in the same make and model because of small variations in vehicle manufacturing. And some vehicles do not get their best fuel consumption until they have been driven for about 6,000 to 10,000 km.

Published ratings are a useful tool for comparing vehicles before you buy. But keep in mind that they’re based on standard tests and may not accurately predict the fuel consumption you will get on the road.

Use fuel-efficient driving techniques to reduce your vehicle’s fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 25%.

Factors that affect fuel efficiency – Video

Learn about the many ways in which the weather, your driving habits and the routes you plan can affect your fuel consumption.



Let’s take a minute or two to talk about fuel efficiency.

The ratings you see – on the windows of new vehicles, and on the web, reflect the results of specific tests done by manufacturers in laboratories, on dynamometers which simulate different conditions.

While the ratings are achievable if you drive with fuel efficiency in mind, it’s important to remember that five factors can have a dramatic effect on your fuel consumption: 

  • Driving behaviour: Rapid acceleration, speeding, driving at inconsistent speeds and even extended idling can increase your fuel consumption. The smoother you drive, the better your results will be. Drive smarter – and reduce your fuel consumption by up to 25%!
  • Weather: The colder it is, the worse your fuel consumption will be. Poorer driving conditions, more friction, different types of fuel – it all adds up. A drop in temperature from 24 to 7 degrees can increase fuel consumption in urban commutes from 12 to 28%.  In the summer, air conditioning robs engine power, and open windows at highway speeds can make your car much less aerodynamic, and that increases fuel consumption too.
  • Weight: It’s a fact that lighter cars use less fuel. For every 25 kilograms of weight you add to a mid-sized car, you’ll worsen your fuel economy by one percentage point. So… lighten up!
  • Aerodynamics: Today’s vehicles are designed to slip easily through the air. Bike or ski racks or cargo boxes can increase your fuel consumption by 20% so don’t keep them on the vehicle unless you’re actually using them.
  • Route planning and congestion: It just makes sense to think about where you’re going… BEFORE you leave. Check conditions and traffic or construction reports, and you’ll save time AND fuel.

Here’s the bottom line: while choosing an efficient vehicle is very important, how, where, and when you drive has a big effect on your fuel consumption, and how much you contribute to harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Think about it.

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