Cars and trucks are becoming more fuel-efficient thanks to new technology, a trend that is showing in the numbers.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average fuel economy for cars and light trucks hit a record 24.1 miles per gallon in 2013, although notes that the pace of growth has slowed. The increase is just 0.5 mpg over 2012, while it was up 1.2 mpg from 2011 to 2012.
The EPA says that the average fuel economy has increased in eight of the last nine years, and the EPA foresees a slight increase next year to 24.2 mpg.
What's driving the increase? New technology--specifically, the use of gasoline engines with direct-injection, better transmissions and an increase in turbocharging.
Japanese automakers like Mazda, Honda, and Nissan fared well, with Mazda boasting the best average at 28.1 mpg, although Nissan scored the best for a full-line automaker at 26.2 mpg (Mazda currently doesn't sell pickup trucks).
The Big Three and Daimler scored the worst, with Chrysler checking in at just 20.9 mpg. That low number for Chrysler isn't a surprise, since the brand has trailed others in fuel-saving tech while it has worked to update its lineup. That product makeover effort is in the beginning stages, so Chrysler should improve as time goes on.
It's a bit more surprising that Ford and GM are near the bottom with 22.2 and 22 mpg, respectively, especially since Ford has worked hard to increase fuel efficiency with its turbocharged line of EcoBoost engines.
It's likely that the presence of fuel-gulping full-size trucks has something to do with that, even though Ford and GM have both taken steps to improve fuel economy in trucks. Ford has just introduced the 2015 F-150 with an aluminum body meant to save weight, and the automaker has offered EcoBoost engines in its larger trucks as well.
Hyundai and Kia were left out of the EPA report due to an investigation into inflated fuel-economy claims.