US Car Buyers Get Record High Mileage in 2018

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U.S. car buyers got the best mileage in history in 2018, according to an annual study. That was due both to the more efficient engines manufacturers put in their cars and to moderate gasoline prices.

Wards, a major industry research group that was founded in 1924, reported that the mileage for light vehicles, which includes cars, pickups, crossovers and sport utility vehicles, hit 27.5 miles per gallon in 2018. When adjusted for gas prices, the figure was 26.9 miles per gallon. This was a 2.9% improvement compared to 2017, much larger than the 0.8% improvement from 2016 to 2017.

Among mainstream car manufacturers, Mitsubishi posted the best gas mileage across its entire fleet. This is not surprising because its three models — Outlander, Eclipse and Mirage — all have small gas engines and also come in hybrid and electric versions. Mitsubishi’s base model, the Mirage, gets highway readings averages 43 miles per gallon.

Among manufacturers that do not make gas-powered or hybrid cars, Tesla posted the best gas mileage average across its fleet at an equivalent of 29.4 mpg for 2018.

The trend that had the most substantial effect on the overall industry average was the sharp improvement in mileage among luxury cars. The number of “electrified” cars as a portion of all models sold within the sector rose by 37.8%. The share of hybrid and electric vehicles in the luxury segment rose from 9.1% in 2017 to 22.1%. This trend was not exclusive to luxury cars. Wards analysts indicated that the share of electrified vehicles across the industry rose from 3.3% in 2017 to 3.9% last year.