Top fuel economy of 2005 EPA-classed midsize cars

brianl703May 3, 2005

Of those that are NOT manual, NOT hybrid, NOT diesel..the 2005 Chevrolet Malibu and 2005 Chevrolet Classic with the 2.2L Ecotec are up there at the top (24 city, 34 highway).

Notably, all of the others at the top, save for the Kia Spectra (2.0L), have 5-speed automatics with larger engines (2.4L or bigger).

The Chevrolet and the Kia models have 4-speed automatics.

Now if someone could explain to me how GM can get 24/34 out of a midsize car but only gets 24/32 out of a subcompact car (the Chevrolet Cobalt) with the same engine/transmission I'd sure love to know.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just at a glance, though one is slightly larger in size they both weigh about the same. That being the case, it makes sense that they'd take the same amount of energy to push down the road.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 8:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The Cobalt might also have a shorter final drive for better acceleration.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 10:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My Dodge Stratus with 2.4L, 4cy, and 4 valves per cylinder gets 22 to 25 MPG communting and 27 to 31 MPG highway.

My best mileage ever was with a '89 Dodge Dynasty and 3.0 L V6 Mitsubishi built engine. That one did turn in 33 MPG for the best driving condition. It's trip mileage averaged between 27 to 32 MPG. The downside: no torque at lower rpms equates to no acceleration. Had to keep the engine revs up to accelerate. Commuting mileage was 19 to 22 MPG. I didn't like the calibration of the shift points on the transmission. Was lousy for city traffic. The shift points on this transmission were calibrated to maximize mileage for the EPA test cycle of that time, not necessarily the best for actual driving conditions. These early "new design" Chrysler transmissions were troublesome.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 7:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Times haven't changes much. TWENTY THREE YEARS AGO I bought a Volkswagen Rabbit. It cost $7,000.00 brand new. I commuted on The Infamous Rte 80 in NJ. I got 50 MPG with it. Yeah, it was a piece of garbage that only lasted 100,000 miles but it got great mileage. But I've grown up now. And I love my Expedition that gets 20 MPG.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 7:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

20 MPG ??
Makes no sense
Why not drive a Ford 500(for example), a large car , that with a Diesel engine could easily do 25 to 35 mpg.
Of course, we will never see such practicality and economy of operation in our country.

I guess it is better to continue the flow of money to the Islamics, and appease the environ-nazis..

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 10:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love my Ford Mustang 5.0 that gets 25MPG. The current Hyundia Tiburon doesn't do much better if you look at the EPA fuel economy numbers.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 12:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brian :
Now if someone could explain to me how GM can get 24/34 out of a midsize car but only gets 24/32 out of a subcompact car (the Chevrolet Cobalt) with the same engine/transmission I'd sure love to know.

There are no longer any "sub-compact" cars as such. This is an obsolete and condescending term as it is.
The Cobalt is a regular 4 passenger compact car, maybe a bit smaller, maybe a bit lighter than the Malibu, explaining the tiny difference in fuel economy - not that I believe these silly and misleading EPA figures..

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 12:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It's been my experience that it is fairly easy to beat the EPA figures--if you drive the right way.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 1:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think actually the EPA beats them, too. Don't they use some type of formula to reduce the actual fuel economy obtained in testing to come up with the "official" numbers? I think they do. I think it's done to make the numbers more realistic for the "average driver," so fewer people will complain about getting worse mileage than the estimates.

If you check out the Canadian fuel economy numbers, they are always higher for the very same vehicles with the same drivetrains. (That's after converting liters/100 km to MPG, not using "Imperial" gallons, which obviously would be higher numbers since Imperial gallons are bigger than U.S. gallons.)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 1:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, they reduce the numbers by 25% or so.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a solution-less problem - men are known to exaggerate about numbers so much.. The truth can be scary at times.
I have seen the recorded gas economy of a 50 hp air-cooled VW - 24 MPG !!
Even a big, heavy Lincoln was able to hit over 20 during the Mobil Gas economy run( of 50 years ago), this probably created problems as the city drivers wondered why they were not doing 20 mpg !!
I was able to average 50 mpg in my old Diesel Golf , via slow and careful driving in a fairly light vehicle...The DIN standard for this car was, I think, 42 mpg..

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 12:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Fuel economy is very driver-dependent. Something as simple as taking your foot off of the gas pedal as soon as you see a red light ahead can make a big difference.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 10:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a 02 Cavalier with a 2.2 and the Estimated MPG on the sticker saids.32-28 I have gotten 34 on the highway and as low as 26 city in the cold winter.Average is 28

I also have a 05 Buick Century with a 3.1 I got 29 on the highway and 26 city.But its to early for a average with less then 3000 miles so far.

I would think a 2.2 in a Malibu would be to small.It would be working constantly to pull the weight around.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 12:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The new Ecotec 4-cylinder in the Malibu is a DOHC engine that has a pretty high output for its size. But the proof is in the pudding: The 3.5 V6 gives practically the same mileage for a lot more power and a lot more low-end torque, too. Even Consumer Reports recommends getting the V6 in the Malibu because in their tests they found that the real world mileage between the V6 and Ecotec was essentially no different, and the V6 performs a lot better.

Also, as a follow-up to the earlier posts about the EPA mileage estimates, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day about how they're thinking of reducing the EPA estimates still further to make them more "realistic." Apparently a lot of people still complain that the EPA numbers are too high, and they can't achieve them in normal driving. Some new tests being considered include running the cars in 95 degrees F with the a/c on full blast, and a highway test with speeds up to 80 mph. Some car companies are angry because that will negate the effects of some of the technologies they have come up with to exploit the peculiarities of the current testing system, such as hybrids.

It's all pretty ridiculous. The EPA numbers are to facilitate comparison between cars. No more and no less. I have never had a car which didn't average quite a bit better mileage than its EPA numbers, so I know the numbers aren't all that far out of whack. Maybe instead of changing the way they test cars, the EPA should consider offering driving classes to teach people more economical driving habits.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 2:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Maybe instead of changing the way they test cars, the EPA should consider offering driving classes to teach people more economical driving habits."

People don't like to be told that they're doing something wrong. Politically, that's a big loser.

There's a 2MPG difference city/highway between the 3.5L and the 2.2L. It would appear that the 3.5L is a lot more fuel efficient than the 3.1L it replaced.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 11:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, on the EPA estimates, but some road tests have found that in the real world the mileage of the 2.2 was the same or even less than the 3.5.

I was kidding about the driving classes. As you say, people don't like being told that what they are doing is wrong. And as a practical matter, the worst drivers are usually convinced that they're the best, so no one who really needed the class would sign up.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 3:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It'd be interesting to see what a device like the Scanguage will say about the mileage of the 2.2 vs the 3.5

Some things about fuel economy are old wives tales: For instance, that little bit that they always say about driving like there's an egg between your foot and the gas pedal? That's WRONG for fuel economy. What you want to do is accelerate at about 1/2-3/4 throttle (but not at full-throttle since that'll make the computer go into wide-open-throttle enrichment mode), in the highest gear possible, to minimize pumping losses as well as the amount of time that the engine spends in acceleration-enrichment mode. If the vehicle is an automatic you want to push the gas pedal to just before the point where it downshifts. You don't want it to downshift.

Here is a link that might be useful: The ScanGuage

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 5:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's true. "Granny" style acceleration holds the car in the acceleration mode longer and delays reaching cruising speed, causing lower overall economy. You can test that very easily on any car with a fuel economy readout on its trip computer (such as the Malibu).

But if you observe the driving habits of a lot of people, they do something even worse than either slowly or quickly reaching cruising speed -- they never reach one. On suburban roads where you drive a mile or two, then have a light, then a mile or two more to the next light, what a lot of people do in this situation is just constantly accelerate. Faster, faster, faster, until they have to slam on the brakes at the next light. The car's accelerating literally all the time. Easy to see why some complain about not attaining the EPA estimates.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 12:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cowboy : I was kidding about the driving classes. As you say, people don't like being told that what they are doing is wrong. And as a practical matter, the worst drivers are usually convinced that they're the best, so no one who really needed the class would sign up.

Very, very true - and to the man who can influence these people - kudos...But I believe it is impossible - unless gasoline attains the European price level..
One trouble with the Aisin-Warner automatic - it is so smooth and quiet that the shift points are nearly undetectable.
And, I am a practitioner of "granny" driving - and I have never broken the egg.
The car averages about 27 on the highway and in the low 20s around town .. We have hundreds of red-lights and stops to contend with.

I am sure I can hit 30 if I stay under 70 on the road.

The manual 5 speed Diesel was a ton more economical.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 10:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

An update on the MPG figures, much more accurate is an average of 26 for the past 8 months and at least 30 on the interstates;

I finally bought my MPG book up to date..This mileage is a tad better than the old Honda Accord; This car is too heavy to beat JohnDeere's figures..
I still have 27.3 showing on the digital display panel..Also, I note that the odometer seems about 3 to 4 % slow- according to the interstate mileage markers.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 10:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The economy of today's vehicles is a major disappointment to me. I drive a 1989 turbocharged AWD Audi. It's been expensive to maintain, mostly because the trinkets and luxury toys break, but the engine/trans/drivline has never had any repairs, and it's about 165,000 miles now. The car was the fastest sedan made in 1989, doing 0-60 in 7.9 seconds stock, and the engine's modified to do now about 7 seconds 0-60. It's a heavy car by 1989 standards, mid-sized by interior volume, and with FAR too many toys on it. I would not purchase a car with this level of doodads again, but then I have different priorities today than when I bought this car seven years ago.

If I drive "normally", keeping up with traffic, accelerating about the same as everybody else, I get 24 miles per gallon "mixed". If I simply go into "coast" mode long before a light, coasting down to 20 or so miles per hour, before I have to use the brakes, I can exceed 30 miles per gallon. That's a big difference. If the fastest sedan made in 1989 can achieve 30, (EPA ratings were 17 city and 25 highway, and this was before the EPA "downward adjusted" their measurements by 25%), then it's really quite disappointing that very ordinary low-performance sedans that have the benefit of 16 years of "better" engineering are not routinely achieving 50, or at least 40.

The "eggshell" recommendation is supposed to keep your automatic transmission from downshifting. Brianl703's right - for a car with a manual, close to wide open throttle is best for accelarating coupled with getting the transission into high gear quickly. On turbocharged cars, it's a bit different, you want to drive by the manifold pressure gauge, preventing the manifold from actually achieving positive relative pressure.

Buying a car with an automatic transmission, you give up a whole world of options for your driving style.

Try one of today's manuals. GM, Ford and Chrysler are generally making dreadful clutchs - notchy, hard to use, and so forth, but sometimes they're using foreign-made clutches and transmissions which are silky smooth and easy. Don't be so quick to insist on an automatic, unless maybe you have a handicap and can't use both feet.

I have no problem with clutches, and I have badly damaged knees.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 3:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If the EPA is downward-adjusting new cars, which I do recall reading about somewhere, then wouldn't that result in a lower fuel economy figure compared to the old non-downward adjusted figure?

So today's car, with an EPA fuel economy rating of 30MPG, would actually have gotten a higher number in times past.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 4:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Adjusting Estimates

In the 1980s, an EPA study found that drivers were typically achieving lower fuel economy than predicted by EPA laboratory tests. As a result, EPA required the laboratory-derived city and highway MPG estimates posted on the labels of new vehicles to be adjusted downward by 10 percent for city estimates and by 22 percent for highway estimates to better reflect the MPG real-world drivers can expect.

(Thanks for not telling us exactly when you started doing this, EPA. After all, "In the 1980s" can mean any time during a 10-year span..close enough for government work, I suppose!)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 4:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To put this into perspective, a vehicle made before a certain year in the 1980s which got 43MPG highway MPG would today have it's rating downrated by 22 percent for a resulting highway MPG figure of 33.54MPG (probably rounded up to 34MPG).

That means that today's vehicle, which posts a rating of 34 highway MPG, would have gotten a rating of 43 highway MPG before a certain year in the 1980s.

The certain year in the 1980s would be the year that the EPA started downward-rating fuel economy figures. I've not yet found that specific year.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 4:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

my elantras trip computer shows about 35 on the highway and any wheres from 19 to 26 around town. dont know if its accurate never checked it myself. checked my toyota truck 4cyl. auto its nothing extra 15 to 17 around town and 21 to 22 highway.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 5:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you are concerned about MPG, you must measure it. Onboard computers only give estimates. In days past, EVERYBODY kept a little book in the glovebox, where you wrote down all your gas purchases, noted the odo reading and calculated MPG. That's how you knew it was time for a tune-up.

The EPA figures are estimates and vary greatly with your driving style, among other things. With my driving style, for instance, I always beat the EPA numbers on a stick shift, but never meet them on an automatic. I know others who never meet them with a stick shift. I also notice that on my German cars, Im more likely to do better than the EPA, but with domestics, I do worse.

Onboard computers are a step better than the EPA figures, but they must be taken with a grain of salt.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 8:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I rented a new Malibu with the 3600 engine, got 36 miles per gallon on the highway, I drove it 900 miles in Nashville, (was warm and I averaged 75 miles per hour, with the cruise on). I couldn't believe it, at first I thought it was a faulty gas gauge, so I filled it up, thought it was stuck. I popped the hood to check the engine, couldn't believe it was a six cylinder. Not a big Chevy fan, but would definately consider one now.

When I checked out from National Car Rental I was chatting with the guy and he told me he only drives the Malibu, because of the great mileage and he can take anything he likes on the lot. He confirmed they get great mileage. That's better mileage than a Focus, Cobalt etc. How's that possible?

Now I have to stop at a Chevy dealer and see what the EPA estimates are. Wondering if I had a fluke or it's normal mileage for highway driving.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 11:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

WestCoastBroke, difficult to agree with you more..But I think I was one of the few who kept MPG records for year after year.
This is why I know the '85 Diesel Golf averaged 50 mpg for 100,000 miles - the summertime 20 mile communing average was an average of 55 , these Diesels do not like the excesses in heat and cold, particularly the cold !

The Auto-trans Honda Accords, the '96 Saab 900GM, Mercedes 300D all averaged between 25 to 28.

The Chevy Cobalt and Malibu MPG figures are fantastic,IMO, but I would like to see what they do in real life..
But , NOTHING ,but nuclear, beats a Diesel for mileage/efficiency..

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 12:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The Malibu really does get great mileage. The 3.5 liter V6 is, as others have said, nearly as efficient as the 4-cylinder, and it has lots of power, too.

This is proof that "high-tech" engines are not necessarily better. This 3.5 in the Malibu is a fairly old tech engine, it's an OHV design, doesn't have 4-valves per cylinder. But it performs very well and gets excellent mileage.

Compare the mileage of the Malibu with this engine that the car magazines say is "old fashioned" to some of the newer design engines with overhead camshafts and more valves per cylinder. What do you see? The "high tech" engines produce comparable power out of small displacements than the Malibu's V6, so they have more horsepower per liter. Okay, but then look at performance and fuel economy, and you see that the bigger engine is no less efficient than the high-revving little one. Plus the bigger one will probably last longer because it doesn't have to be run so hard to produce its power, and as a side bonus there's no timing belt to break and strand you in the middle of nowhere.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 12:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I brought this topic up at work when I got back and I was told that the 3600 engine is one of there best. Lots of co-workers said they knew lots of friends and relatives with this engine and love it. It has plenty of power also, which is important to me because I drive a little fast occasionally.

I've been looking at economy cars at the dealers and really didn't want a sub-compact car. This Malibu had nice styling, quiet at highway speeds, plenty of acceleration, comfortable for taller drivers etc. I really couldn't find any faults in the car.

I think renting a car you are considering to buy for a one week test drive makes sense. When I took a test drive of a new Focus the salesman went with me and told me I could only take it for a short hop around the block. Said to me we don't want to put to many miles on the new cars. I can see his point, but that's way to short of a drive to decide if I really like the car.

When I buy a car now I drive it for a long time and then give them to my kids. So I want to make sure I buy something I can live with for say 10 years.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 7:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's a good idea to rent a car you plan on buying.

The great gas mileage of the Malibu is definitely one thing that makes it an excellent value, and one other is the price you can get it for. I see them advertised in the local paper for under $16,000 nicely equipped and with the V6.

I can't think of any other car that gives you that much space, has mileage that good, and sells for a price that low.

The main criticism I see on automotive websites of the Malibu is that it has poor resale value. However, that's not accurate because people are not paying sticker price for these cars. If the car stickers at $21,000 and it's worth $14,000 the next year, some website will say it went down $7,000 in value. No, it didn't. You paid $16,000, so it went down $2,000.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 1:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Resale value is only important if your going to sell. I would rather run it untill it's junk and give it away.

I bought a new Ford Ranger two years ago. Nice looking truck, havn't had any problems with it, gas mileage very poor. I wanted a Toyota truck and they were about 10 grand more. I bought my Ranger for for about 15k, 4 wheel drive, air, 5 speed automatic, mags, trailer package, etc. A great value and I will keep it until it rusts off the frame.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 12:03PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
dump my buick rendezvous?
Do you know the Buick Rendezvous? Mine has been outstanding...
Honda Odyssey 2005 EX-L Fire
Hi All, My Honda Odyssey 2005 EX-L recently totaled...
Consumer reports
I can't find a Consumer Reports Used car buying guide....
1992 Chevy Truck 1500 running BAD!
About 2 1/2 years ago my truck was running bad, had...
pump keeps stopping when trying to fill gas tank
Hi! Can someone give me a clue what might be suddenly...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™